Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin

Who has the best and worst special teams in the NHL?


The Pittsburgh Penguins may be on a two-game losing streak, but at least they can still say they have the best special teams in the NHL.

The following shows the combined power-play and penalty-kill rates for all 30 teams. The Pens have the top-ranked PP and the third-ranked PK.

Team  PP%  PK%  Combined
1 PITTSBURGH 24.3 86.1 110.4
2 NEW JERSEY 20.7 87.0 107.7
3 ST LOUIS 20.7 86.3 107.0
4 WASHINGTON 23.7 80.8 104.5
5 PHILADELPHIA 20.1 84.2 104.3
6 BOSTON 20.5 83.8 104.3
7 NY RANGERS 19.3 84.6 103.9
8 MONTREAL 18.2 85.1 103.3
9 COLORADO 20.8 81.1 101.9
10 DETROIT 17.4 84.1 101.5
11 CHICAGO 20.8 80.6 101.4
12 SAN JOSE 15.9 84.7 100.6
13 NASHVILLE 20.1 80.4 100.5
14 COLUMBUS 18.3 82.0 100.3
15 WINNIPEG 14.5 85.0 99.5
16 PHOENIX 20.2 79.2 99.4
17 TORONTO 20.7 78.4 99.1
18 MINNESOTA 18.3 80.6 98.9
19 EDMONTON 16.2 82.3 98.5
20 ANAHEIM 16.4 81.9 98.3
21 OTTAWA 18.4 79.9 98.3
22 LOS ANGELES 14.9 83.1 98.0
23 CALGARY 15.4 82.1 97.5
24 VANCOUVER 14.2 83.0 97.2
25 DALLAS 16.0 81.1 97.1
26 TAMPA BAY 16.6 80.4 97.0
27 BUFFALO 14.2 82.0 96.2
28 NY ISLANDERS 16.9 77.3 94.2
29 CAROLINA 12.6 81.3 93.9
30 FLORIDA 10.7 75.1 85.8

As you can see, the poor Panthers are dead last in the combined category, and by a wide margin. Florida ranks 30th in both the PP and the PK. Which makes it tough to win many games, because they’re not the greatest even-strength team either.

The largest disparity between good penalty killing and a poor power play? That would be Winnipeg, with the fifth-ranked PK and 26th-ranked PP. (Honorable mentions: San Jose, Vancouver, and Carolina.)

The largest disparity between a good power play and poor penalty killing? That would be Washington, with the second-ranked PP and 21-st ranked PK. (Honorable mentions: Toronto, Phoenix and Chicago.)

Goalie nods: Niemi expected for Stars against Penguins

Antti Niemi, Jonathan Toews
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Talk about getting thrown into the fire.

Antti Niemi is expected to be the starting goalie tonight in Dallas when his Stars host Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Niemi has, not surprisingly, been given the assignment over Kari Lehtonen, the latter of whom struggled badly during the preseason, allowing 15 goals on 84 shots.

Not that Niemi was razor sharp himself. He allowed eight goals on 65 shots, for a save percentage of .877.

Considering the Stars have a combined $10.4 million in cap space tied up in those two veteran netminders, it’s no wonder the number-one question facing the club is whether the goaltending has indeed been fixed.

We’ll start to find out tonight.

Marc-Andre Fleury will undoubtedly be in goal for Pittsburgh, though that hasn’t been confirmed.


Craig Anderson, the goalie the Senators decided to keep, versus Robin Lehner, the one they traded to the Sabres.

Cam Ward will start for Carolina when the Hurricanes visit the Predators, who will obviously go with Pekka Rinne. The consensus is that Eddie Lack will eventually supplant Ward as Carolina’s starter, but that apparently hasn’t happened yet.

Brian Elliott goes for the Blues versus Cam Talbot for the Oilers. Elliott was excellent in the preseason, stopping all but two of the 57 shots he faced, while Jake Allen allowed six goals on 60 shots.

Steve Mason for the Flyers versus Ben Bishop for the Lightning.

Ondrej Pavelec for Winnipeg versus Tuukka Rask for Boston.

Devan Dubnyk likely for the Wild versus Semyon Varlamov for the Avs.

Flyers want to prove doubters wrong

Jakub Voracek, Claude Giroux
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Jakub Voracek totally understands why nobody’s expecting much from the Philadelphia Flyers. When a team finishes 14 points out of the playoffs the year before, that’s typically going to be the case.

“We weren’t good enough last year, let’s face it,” Voracek told CSN Philly. 

So, no, it doesn’t upset him that the Flyers aren’t considered among the Stanley Cup favorites.

That being said, “it makes you feel you want to prove them wrong.”

The Flyers get going tonight with a tough game against the Lightning in Tampa Bay. They also play Saturday in Florida against the Panthers, before a rematch with the Panthers Monday in Philadelphia.

“My biggest concern would be getting off to a good start,” GM Ron Hextall said. “That’s one thing that we need to do.”

That’s something they didn’t do last year. In fact, they won just once in their first six games. By the end of November, they were 8-12-3 and in a big hole — one that proved too deep to climb out of.

Related: Flyers to start season with seven defensemen