Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Matt Niskanen

Who had the best special teams overall in 2013-14?

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Earlier today, PHT took a look at who draws and avoids penalties better than anyone else. Now let’s ponder which teams are the best once the whistles are blown.

While there’s nothing wrong with judging power plays and penalty kill units based on percentages, it leaves certain factors like shorthanded goals out of the picture. Perhaps there are other ways to think about special teams, then?

It’s been a while since we rolled out “special teams plus/minus,” so why not do so on a sleepy offseason Sunday?

An explanation if you need it (scroll if you do not)

In case you need a refresher, this stat is as simple as it gets: you simply factor power play goals for and against along with shorthanded goals for and against to get a “net” of special teams.

For instance: The Washington Capitals might seem like they had the best PP in the NHL during the 2013-14 season because they scored the most goals at 68. Unfortunately, they also allowed 10 shorthanded goals, so their power play “net” would be 58. They allowed 51 power play goals while scoring five shorties of their own, leaving them -46 (so to speak) on the penalty kill. To get special teams plus/minus (or net), you simply combine the two.

The Washington Capitals end up +12, so they created 12 more goals on special teams than they allowed. That’s very good, but not the best.

Make sense? Good.

2013-14 special teams net

With the explanation out of the way, here’s how the 30 NHL teams fared last season:

Team ST net PP net PK net
PIT 25 59 -34
SJS 19 44 -25
NYR 17 41 -24
NJD 16 43 -27
STL 14 50 -36
WSH 12 58 -46
BOS 10 44 -34
CHI 7 44 -37
PHI 7 47 -40
CBJ 5 46 -41
COL 4 49 -45
MTL 3 40 -37
CGY 1 32 -31
NSH 1 46 -45
CAR 0 33 -33
DAL 0 41 -41
TBL 0 42 -42
ANA -2 36 -38
DET -2 45 -47
PHX -3 51 -54
VAN -5 35 -40
LAK -8 37 -45
NYI -8 42 -50
WPG -10 34 -44
MIN -12 37 -49
EDM -13 33 -46
TOR -13 38 -51
BUF -15 31 -46
OTT -16 40 -56
FLA -34 21 -55

A few takeaways:

  • The Pittsburgh Penguins came out on top in large part because of how productive their power play was (that net was +59).
  • The then-Phoenix Coyotes enjoyed a very productive power play, yet they weren’t very successful on the PK last season. This was an odd year for the now-Arizona ‘Yotes.
  • The San Jose Sharks get a huge advantage in power-play opportunities over shorthanded work, yet they didn’t quite enjoy the best special teams by this metric. They’re close enough for it to be a big asset, though.

Since the lockout

Want a slightly bigger sample size? Let’s check out how every team did since the lockout, adding 48 regular season games to the mix:

Team LOCKOUT NET 13-14 ST NET 12-13 ST NET 12-13 PP NET 12-13 PK NET
PIT 32 25 7 39 -32
SJS 30 19 11 30 -19
WSH 19 12 7 40 -33
STL 18 14 4 24 -20
NJD 17 16 1 22 -21
PHI 17 7 10 34 -24
CHI 14 7 7 20 -13
NYR 14 17 -3 20 -23
BOS 10 10 0 16 -16
CGY 8 1 7 29 -22
MTL 8 3 5 40 -35
CBJ 3 5 -2 20 -22
DET 0 -2 2 29 -27
LAK -1 -8 7 32 -25
ANA -3 -2 -1 24 -25
NYI -3 -8 5 31 -26
TBL -3 0 -3 27 -30
TOR -4 -13 9 27 -18
EDM -5 -13 8 33 -25
DAL -6 0 -6 26 -32
VAN -7 -5 -2 23 -25
MIN -10 -12 2 27 -25
OTT -10 -16 6 24 -18
COL -11 4 -15 18 -33
NSH -12 1 -13 20 -33
PHX -12 -3 -9 23 -32
CAR -13 0 -13 20 -33
WPG -20 -10 -10 17 -27
BUF -29 -15 -14 16 -30
FLA -41 -34 -7 28 -35

Not a whole lot of change at the top, which isn’t too shocking.

2013-14 playoffs

And, just for the sake of fun (keep in mind sample sizes are small and vary wildly here), here are the playoff numbers:

Team PLAYOFF ST NET PP net PP% PK net PK%
ANA 4 11 24 -7 84.9
CHI 3 12 21 -9 84.6
PHI 3 6 28.6 -3 89.7
CBJ 2 5 25.9 -3 79.3
MTL 2 10 19.7 -8 80.4
NYR 2 11 12.6 -9 85.4
COL 1 2 12 -1 85.7
LAK 0 17 23.5 -17 83.3
TBL 0 1 28.6 -1 84.6
BOS -1 9 26.5 -10 77.8
STL -1 2 6.9 -3 85
MIN -2 3 13.2 -5 84.2
SJS -2 4 12.5 -6 75
PIT -3 4 14.3 -7 81.1
DAL -4 2 10.3 -6 73.1
DET -4 2 10 -6 62.5

Doesn’t tell you a ton, but it’s interesting that the two “worst” teams were bounced in the first round …

Ilya Bryzgalov’s Canada – Russia take is the best take

VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 24:  Ilya Bryzgalov #30 of Russia comes into the game against Canada during the ice hockey men's quarter final game between Russia and Canada on day 13 of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics at Canada Hockey Place on February 24, 2010 in Vancouver, Canada.  (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
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Admit it: you miss Ilya Bryzgalov.

Saturday presented the latest reminder that hockey’s just a little less fun thanks to the absence of Mr. Universe, as Bryzgalov regaled ESPN’s Craig Custance with his impeccable analysis of the drubbing Russia received from Canada during the 2010 Olympics.

You see, Breezy initially described Canada’s start “like gorillas out of a cage,” but upon further reflection …

… Well:

“Not gorillas,” Bryzgalov said. “More like Orcs from ‘The Hobbit.’ You watch that movie, right? Big. Mean. Scary.”

Fantastic.

Now, it’s possible that Bryzgalov meant “Lord of the Rings” rather than “The Hobbit,” but both series featured “Big. Mean. Scary” orcs, so who knows:

Really though, it paints quite the picture. Imagine, for a moment, Shea Weber or Brent Burns decked out like that one especially big, mean and scary orc. One can only imagine the Photoshop masterpieces that may sprout up thanks to the vivid story Bryzgalov told.

***

Now, there are some great bits leading up to Saturday’s Canada – Russia semifinal. PHT should have more to come tonight.

Sportsnet looked back at a moment in which a seemingly sure-thing Canadian team hit a brick wall in a Russian opponent. NHL.com provided a fascinating look at Mike Babcock and his quest for control. TSN captures a moment of sorts for Steven Stamkos.

There’s a lot of great stuff out there, but Bryzgalov’s takes are truly one of a kind, and they’ve been truly missed.

Bruins’ Vatrano to miss three months with foot injury

BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 17:  Frank Vatrano #72 of the Boston Bruins looks on during the third period against the San Jose Sharks at TD Garden on November 17, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Sharks defeat the Bruins 5-4.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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Frank Vatrano is supposed to be one of the young players the Boston Bruins will be counting on this season to help replace some of the offense they lost when Loui Eriksson signed a free agent contract with the Vancouver Canucks.

Unfortunately for the Bruins they will have to wait a few months before he gets an opportunity to make an impact.

The team announced on Saturday that Vatrano is going to require surgery to repair torn ligaments in his foot and is expected to miss at least three months.

General manager Don Sweeney said that Vatrano was injured in his training in preparation for the team’s training camp.

Vatrano appeared in 39 games for the Bruins in 2015-16 season and scored eight goals, including a hat trick in an early season win against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He spent the rest of his season playing for Providence of the American Hockey League where he scored a league leading 36 goals in only 36 games. Just for some perspective on that goal total, only one other player in the league scored 30 goals for the entire season, and that was Chris Bourque who scored 30 in 72 games.

Star-crossed: Cody Eakin to miss about six weeks

NEWARK, NJ - JANUARY 02: Cody Eakin #20 of the Dallas Stars waits for the face off against the New Jersey Devils on January 2,2016 at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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The Dallas Stars’ run of injuries hasn’t ended even with the World Cup of Hockey winding down.

Training camps are starting up, so that’s a new way that the team can encounter bad luck, and it didn’t take much time for the hits to keep coming. Cody Eakin suffered a lower-body injury that’s apparently bad enough to sideline him for six weeks, according to the team.

That same announcement revealed that Devin Shore will miss “some time.”

Before that bad Eakin news leaked through, head coach Lindy Ruff tried to spin the injuries as positively as possible, as the Dallas Morning News noted.

“We’ve got a little bit of the injury bug hitting us, but you’ve got to get through it,” Ruff said. “I’d rather have it now than three or four weeks from now.”

In case you’re wondering, Ruff didn’t pass around bubble wrap to everyone in the Stars’ locker room after making that statement.

Eakin has only missed four games over the last four seasons, so this injury bug is becoming quite the epidemic for the Stars.

Related: Stars might be the biggest losers of the World Cup

Maple Leafs seem giddy about Auston Matthews

BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 24:  Auston Matthews celebrates onstage with Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Lou Lamoriello after being selected first overall during round one of the 2016 NHL Draft on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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TORONTO (AP) Brooks Laich has seen top draft picks blossom in the NHL.

With the Washington Capitals, he watched Alex Ovechkin burst onto the scene in 2005. Now with the Toronto Maple Leafs some 11 years later, he has a ringside seat for Auston Matthews‘ debut.

The 19-year-old forward, the No. 1 overall pick this summer, turned heads at the World Cup of Hockey on a Team North American line with Edmonton’s Connor McDavid and Winnipeg’s Mark Scheifele.

“It puts a big smile on your face,” Laich, a 12-year veteran, said about watching Matthews. “I see a lot of little things in his game, habits that you don’t generally see in young players.”

Those include his positioning, the way he competes for the puck and his shot release. From Scottsdale, Arizona, Matthews played last season in Switzerland.

Leafs center Nazem Kadri has also seen Matthews play from the Air Canada Centre stands.

“(He’s) obviously high-level skill,” he said. “(He) can skate, he’s big. So he’s only going to get better. Obviously, with that 82-game season, it’s going to be a little difficult but I think he’s going to be more than ready for it.”

Leafs management already likes what it sees.

“There’s no question he has a bright future,” GM Lou Lamoriello said. “It’s just exciting to see him play. But I think the most exciting thing is to know he’s ours.”

Laich reminded reporters asking about Matthews that the team comes first.

“This isn’t an individual sport,” he said. “This isn’t a tennis or a golf where everything comes down to one person. Auston’s a great player from what I’ve seen. But there’s also going to be 22 other great players in this room.

“So as a young guy, he’s got enough pressure on himself. He puts, I’m sure, enough pressure on himself. You don’t get to be where he is already without having an internal drive like that. So we don’t need to put anything else on him. We want to make him a member of the team, we want to treat him like the other 22 guys.”

“The logo comes first. I’m sure Auston will tell you that.”

The Leafs begin on-ice activities at training camp Friday in Halifax, Nova Scotia.