Boston Bruins v Toronto Maple Leafs

Which teams’ penalty kill units were the best and worst last season? (Penalty kill +/- in 2010-11)

Earlier tonight, I rolled out the 2010-11 Power Play Plus/Minus numbers as an alternative to the traditional power play percentage stat. Here’s a Cliff Notes explanation of the logic: PP% is misleading because it doesn’t reward teams who score the most goals (just the teams who are most efficient) and there is no penalty for allowing shorthanded goals.

For those reasons, I think “PP +/-” paints a far more accurate picture of which NHL teams had the best and worst power plays. Teams like the Carolina Hurricanes, Pittsburgh Penguins and Edmonton Oilers had better units than many might have realized in 2010-11 while the Buffalo Sabres, Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche’s PP groups were actually more like double-edged swords.

Re-introducing Penalty Kill Plus/Minus

The league’s measurement of penalty kill units is similarly faulty, which prompts the sister stat Penalty Kill Plus/Minus. Naturally, it might not seem as “elegant” when the best team still has a high “minus” number, but this stat rewards teams who don’t recklessly take penalty after penalty and also gives PK units credit for scoring shorthanded goals, which can provide pivotal moments in games. (Just look at how Jordan Staal’s shorthanded goal seemed to shift momentum during the Penguins’ Stanley Cup finals series against the Detroit Red Wings in 2009.)

Before I reveal the 2010-11 PK Plus/Minus results, here are the rankings for the NHL’s 30 teams according to standard PK percentage. Stat categories include: times shorthanded, power-play goals allowed, penalty kill percentage and shorthanded goals scored.  Note: stats are from the 2010-11 regular season, not the playoffs.

Team TS PPGA PK% SHG
PIT 324 45 86.1 13
WSH 299 43 85.6 7
VAN 312 45 85.6 6
LAK 276 40 85.5 4
NSH 272 41 84.9 5
FLA 267 41 84.6 4
MTL 327 51 84.4 5
TBL 302 49 83.8 1
OTT 294 48 83.7 6
NYR 257 42 83.7 11
NJD 241 40 83.4 3
NYI 310 52 83.2 15
BUF 300 51 83 2
MIN 308 53 82.8 7
PHI 313 54 82.8 13
BOS 265 46 82.6 11
DET 300 53 82.3 5
STL 279 51 81.7 7
ANA 305 57 81.3 7
CAR 272 51 81.2 7
CGY 282 53 81.2 7
CBJ 314 62 80.2 6
DAL 277 55 80.1 10
SJS 274 56 79.6 6
CHI 255 53 79.2 6
PHX 296 64 78.4 5
ATL 285 64 77.5 6
TOR 275 62 77.4 5
EDM 321 74 77 8
COL 314 75 76.1 8

***

Now let’s look at how teams looked according to Penalty Kill Plus/Minus. Stat categories include: times shorthanded, power-play goals allowed and penalty kill plus/minus.

Team TS PPGA SHG PK +/-
NYR 257 42 11 -31
PIT 324 45 13 -32
BOS 265 46 11 -35
WSH 299 43 7 -36
LAK 276 40 4 -36
NSH 272 41 5 -36
FLA 267 41 4 -37
NJD 241 40 3 -37
NYI 310 52 15 -37
VAN 312 45 6 -39
PHI 313 54 13 -41
OTT 294 48 6 -42
STL 279 51 7 -44
CAR 272 51 7 -44
DAL 277 55 10 -45
MTL 327 51 5 -46
MIN 308 53 7 -46
CGY 282 53 7 -46
CHI 255 53 6 -47
TBL 302 49 1 -48
DET 300 53 5 -48
BUF 300 51 2 -49
ANA 305 57 7 -50
SJS 274 56 6 -50
CBJ 314 62 6 -56
TOR 275 62 5 -57
ATL 285 64 6 -58
PHX 296 64 5 -59
EDM 321 74 8 -66
COL 314 75 8 -67

***

Unlike the PP +/- results, the top teams saw some shuffles when you factored in total PP goals allowed and shorthanded goals scored. Here are the most interesting findings.

  • The Rangers went from 10th place to first because they didn’t take many penalties, only allowed 42 PP goals and scored 11 shorthanded. The Bruins climbed from 16th to third place for similar reasons.
  • The Penguins were the only team in the top five to take at least 300 penalties (324), yet they didn’t allow many PP goals and were dangerous shorthanded. Maybe Jack Adams award winner Dan Bylsma might want to put that on his resume …
  • The Canadiens dropped from seventh to being tied for 16th because they took 327 penalties, allowing 51 goals in the process. They also didn’t create a lot of scoring opportunities going the other way, totaling just 5 shorthanded goals.
  • The Lightning dropped from eighth to tied for 20th because they allowed 49 PP goals (302 penalties taken) and only scored one shortie. They definitely didn’t enjoy it when a PK goal was scored either way last season, allowing 16 SHG and scoring just one of their own.
  • Want a snapshot of Colorado’s awful 2010-11 season? They had the league’s worst PP and PK plus/minus totals.

***

Now that we have power play and penalty kill units covered, the last post will put it all together.

Video: So, Joe Thornton is pretty stoked about playing in the Stanley Cup Final

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‘Jumbo’ Joe Thornton is off to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in his career. The San Jose Sharks are off to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history.

And yeah, the 36-year-old Thornton, a veteran of 1,367 regular season games with 1,341 career regular season points, is pretty excited for both himself and his team when it comes to this feat.

It hasn’t been easy in San Jose. It hasn’t been easy for the franchise, for the fans, for the players, for Thornton or for Patrick Marleau, who is also 36 years old and has played his entire career (1,411 regular season games) in San Jose.

There have been playoff failures and a regular season disappointment last year. There has been a coaching change and harsh words exchanged between Thornton and management — more specifically, GM Doug Wilson — and an organizational decision to remove the captaincy from Thornton.

After all that, however, the Sharks are four wins away from hoisting the Stanley Cup.

Did we mention Joe Thornton is excited about the final?

Franchise history: The Sharks are off to the Stanley Cup Final

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For the first time in franchise history, the San Jose Sharks are off to the Stanley Cup Final.

This, after a monumental and historical collapse in the first round to the L.A. Kings two years ago. This, after they failed to make the playoffs a year ago, resulting in a coaching change. There have been other post-season disappointments along the way before that, too.

Those difficult times may never be forgotten. But the Sharks have rebounded, and it culminated with a 5-2 victory over the visiting St. Louis Blues in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final on Wednesday. Fans at SAP Center could feel it, too, especially after Joel Ward scored his second goal of the night, giving San Jose a three-goal lead early in the third period.

The Blues attempted a furious comeback but couldn’t quite complete it.

The Sharks this year have eliminated the Kings, Nashville Predators and now the Blues in that order. They await the winner of the Eastern Conference Final between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins.

 

The Sharks got off to the perfect start in the series clincher versus St. Louis. Joe Pavelski recorded his 13th goal, which leads all players in this post-season, and the Sharks continued to roll from there.

Ward increased the lead in the second period and again in the third. His second of the night proved to be the winner. Joonas Donskoi‘s goal, making it 4-0 San Jose before the midway point of the third period, proved critical as the Blues tried to spark a desperation comeback.

The Blues’ leading scorer Vladimir Tarasenko (40 goals, 74 points in the regular season) was held off the score sheet through the first five games of this series, before finally striking for both St. Louis goals in Game 6.

Penguins, Lightning prepare for the ‘roller coaster’ of Game 7

TAMPA, FL - MAY 24:  Ryan Callahan #24 of the Tampa Bay Lightning checks Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 24, 2016 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
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PITTSBURGH (AP) Sidney Crosby is in no mood to get caught up in his own personal narrative, the one eager to attach whatever happens to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals on Thursday against Tampa Bay to the superstar’s legacy.

Forget that Crosby has the game-winning goal in each of Pittsburgh’s victories in its entertaining back-and-forth with the resilient Lightning. Forget that he hasn’t been on the winning side of a post-series handshake line this deep into the playoffs since his glorious night in Detroit seven years ago, which ended with him hoisting the Penguins’ third Stanley Cup.

Yes, he’s playing well. Yes, his dazzling, imminently GIF-able sprint through the Tampa Bay zone late in the second period of Game 6 added another signature moment to a career full of them. Yet lifting Pittsburgh back to the Cup final for the first time since 2009 does not rely solely on him so much as the collective effort of all 20 guys in his team’s retro black and Vegas gold uniforms.

Related: Vasilevskiy ‘is the big reason we’re in Game 7,’ says Bolts coach Cooper

Depth has carried the Penguins this far. Crosby insists Game 7 will be about the team, not him.

“You give yourself the best chance of winning by keeping it simple and not putting too much emphasis on kind of the story line around it,” Crosby said.

Even if it’s easy to get lost in those story lines. The Lightning are on the verge of a second straight berth in the final despite playing the entire postseason without captain Steven Stamkos and losing Vezina Trophy finalist Ben Bishop in the first period of the conference finals when he twisted his left leg awkwardly while scrambling to get into position.

Yet Tampa Bay has stuck around, ceding the ice to the Penguins for significant stretches but using their speed to counterattack brilliantly while relying on 21-year-old goaltender Andrei Vasilevski. The Lightning are hardly intimidated by having to go on the road in a series decider. They did it a year ago in the Eastern final against New York, beating the Rangers 2-0 in Madison Square Garden.

“You’ve got to go back to a tough environment, just like the Garden was last year,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. “And you’ve got to have your A-game.”

The Lightning hoped to avoid revisiting this spot. They could have closed out Pittsburgh at home but fell behind by three goals and didn’t recover, fitting for a series that appears to be a coin flip as a whole but not so much night to night. The team that’s scored first is 5-1 and there’s only been a single lead change in 18-plus periods spread out over nearly two weeks: Tyler Johnson‘s deflection in overtime that gave Tampa Bay Game 5.

“You always want to play with the lead, and always the first goal is big,” said Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman, who is 7-0 in Game 7s. “But, again, we were down 2-0 in Game 5 and came back from that. So it’s not cut in stone, the outcome of the game, no matter if you’re down a goal or two.”

Maybe, but it’d be cutting it pretty close. Tampa Bay’s rally in Game 5 was Pittsburgh’s first loss when leading after two periods all year. The Penguins responded by going back to rookie goaltender Matt Murray – who turned 22 on Wednesday – and putting together perhaps their finest hockey of the postseason. Their stars played like stars while Murray performed like a guy a decade older with his name already etched on the Cup a few times.

The Penguins will need to rely on Murray’s precocious maturity if it wants to buck a curious trend that started well before Murray was born. Pittsburgh hasn’t won a Game 7 on home ice since Mario Lemieux and company beat New Jersey in the opening round of the 1991 playoffs to escape from a 3-2 series deficit and propel the Penguins to their first championship. The Penguins have dropped five straight winner-take-all matchups since then, including a loss to Tampa Bay in the first round in 2011, a series Pittsburgh played without either Crosby or Evgeni Malkin, who sat out with injuries.

They’re healthy now and showing extended flashes of the form that seemed to have the Penguins on the brink of a dynasty when they toppled Detroit. And the Lightning, who are 5-1 in Game 7s, are hardly comfortable but hardly intimidated as they play on the road.

“I think it’s a roller coaster,” Cooper said. “But Game 7 is Game 7. There’s no two better words than that.”

Video: Pavelski gives Sharks the lead as they look to clinch berth in Stanley Cup Final

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Perseverance paid off for the San Jose Sharks.

Joe Pavelski gave the Sharks the lead in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final, pushing home a loose puck on Brian Elliott after Joe Thornton was unable to convert on the breakaway seconds before.

For Pavelski, that’s his league-leading 13th goal of these playoffs.

The Sharks can clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history with a win tonight.

San Jose increased its lead to two goals, as Joel Ward capitalized early in the second period.