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 …

Depth scoring helps Penguins get by Canadiens

MONTREAL, QC - JANUARY 18:  Olli Maatta #3 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates his third period goal with teammates during the NHL game against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre on January 18, 2017 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Montreal Canadiens 4-1.  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
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MONTREAL (AP) Eric Fehr and Jake Guentzel scored in the second period to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins past the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 on Wednesday night.

Defensemen Ian Cole and Olli Maatta also scored for Pittsburgh, which won its second game in a row after a three-game skid.

Sven Andrighetto scored for Montreal, which lost its second straight and has only two wins in its last six games. The Canadiens’ offense remained in a rut coming off a 1-0 loss Monday in Detroit.

Penguins goalie Matt Murray was back in form after Monday’s wild 8-7 win over Washington, making 19 saves. But Carey Price‘s woes continued as Pittsburgh outshot Montreal 26-20. Price allowed three or more goals for the eighth time in 10 games.

A tight-checking first period saw Pittsburgh strike first as Cole took a feed from Evgeni Malkin on a counterattack and scored on a high shot inside the near post with Patric Horqvist screening Carey Price. Malkin picked up his seventh point in five games.

Fehr, who got into the lineup with Matt Cullen out 3-to-4 weeks with a foot injury, was left alone in front to take a pass from Chris Kunitz and score 5:19 into the second. Guentzel made it 3-0 at 17:38 when he tipped a point shot from Cameron Gaunce, who was making his Penguins debut.

Andrighetto got one back at 18:11 when he banked one in off Murray from the side of the net.

Conor Sheary got away with tripping defenseman Jeff Petry behind the Montreal net and fed the puck to Maatta at the point for a low shot that went through Price’s pads 15:36 into the third frame.

A scoreboard tribute was paid to former Montreal Expos star Tim Raines for his induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame earlier Wednesday.

UP NEXT

Penguins: at Carolina on Friday night.

Canadiens: at New Jersey on Friday night.

PHT Morning Skate: Tortorella says ‘not a chance’ LeBron James could play hockey

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Auston Matthews is putting together one of the best rookie seasons we’ve seen in a long time, but if it wasn’t for Ukrainian skating coach Boris Dorozhenko’s unique teaching methods, he might not be the player he is today. (ESPN)

–Not many people expected the Minnesota Wild to contend for the Central Division crown this season, but their play is making some in the national media believe they have a chance to do some damage in the near future. “I give them a ton of credit,” NBC hockey analyst Pierre McGuire said. “They’ve put themselves in a great position to win a Cup. This is the best team they’ve had in Minnesota ever. Like, ever!” (Minneapolis StarTribune)

–If he wasn’t a basketball player, I could see LeBron James playing in the NFL. But a hockey player? I don’t think so. It sounds like Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella agrees with me. “He can’t skate,” Tortorella said during a radio interview. “He’s too damn big, he can’t skate. And you can tell him I said that, I challenge him.” (BarDown)

–The Boston Bruins were up 3-0, 4-1 and 5-4 in last night’s game against the Red Wings, but they still found a way to lose the game. Watch the highlights of that tilt by clicking the video at the top of the page.

–Every hockey fan is aware of the incredible season Sidney Crosby has put together, but for some reason, Evgeni Malkin‘s stellar play seems to be flying under the radar. After all, Malkin isn’t too far behind Connor McDavid for the scoring title. “He doesn’t get as much attention as he deserves,” said Penguins assistant coach Sergei Gonchar. “Not only this season or that season. I think overall if you look at his career, I don’t think he has been covered as much as some other guys. I think he deserves more credit for what he has done in his career.” (NHL.com)

–The 2003 NHL Entry Draft is regarded as one of the best drafts in league history. That year, the Penguins took Marc-Andre Fleury first overall, but if it had to be done over again, who would the top pick be? According to a pair of Sportsnet hockey analysts, Patrice Bergeron or Ryan Getzlaf would go number one if that draft could be done over again. (Sportsnet)

–In his final year of eligibility, former Expos outfielder Tim Raines was finally voted into the hall-of-fame yesterday, and the Montreal Canadiens made sure to congratulate him during last night’s game:

Sharks grind out win, make life difficult for Kings

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If the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings meet again, it will be in the playoffs. If they do so, the Sharks will hold quite a bit of a recent edge.

They defeated them in the first round of the 2016 playoffs and won the 2016-17 season series with the Kings after beating L.A. in a tight 3-2 affair on Wednesday.

During a week where leads have been flimsy and goals came in flurries, this one started off pretty hot. The Sharks generated a 2-1 lead in the first period, and then the two teams exchanged goals in the second, with Joe Pavelski‘s goal ultimately standing as the game-winner.

The Sharks won after a scoreless third period, keeping them in a position to take back first place in the Pacific Division:

1. Ducks – 59 points in 47 games
2. Oilers – 57 in 47
3. Sharks – 56 in 45

San Jose has an opportunity to make up that ground with its games in hand. The Kings, on the other hand, see their margin of error for a wild card spot dwindling:

Second wild card spot: Kings, 48 points in 45 games

Canucks – 48 in 46
Predators – 47 in 44
Stars – 46 in 46
Jets – 46 in 48

The Sharks made life easier for themselves while making it tougher for the Kings. If that’s the end of their interactions for 2016-17, Sharks fans should be quite happy.

Red Wings rally by Bruins in another game that evokes the Eighties

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Things looked pretty grim for the Detroit Red Wings after the Boston Bruins chased Jared Coreau from the net with a quick 3-0 lead. Maybe the Red Wings took note that this has been a weird, high-scoring week in the NHL, because they rallied back and eventually won 6-5 via a shootout.

To recap the zaniest games of each day from this odd few days of hockey:

Monday: The Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Washington Capitals 8-7 in an overtime thriller.

Tuesday: The Dallas Stars managed to hold off the New York Rangers in a 7-6 victory. Plenty of weird things happened beyond all of those goals.

Wednesday: Red Wings storm back from that 3-0 deficit to eventually win.

Games like these can be a nightmare for coaches and goalies on both sides, yet Claude Julien was probably especially steamed by this one.

The Bruins were up 3-0, 4-1 and 5-4 but the Red Wings kept fighting back. As a defensive-minded coach, Julien couldn’t have been happy with his team’s play.

(That’s the coach’s answer to slamming a video game controller in a frustrating loss.)

Fitting in with this week’s other wilder contests, there were flurries of goals even beyond the trio that quickly gave Coreau the boot. The Red Wings warped a 4-1 Bruins lead to a 4-4 tie with three goals in a little more than 10 minutes of time.

Adam McQuaid then regained Boston’s lead 21 seconds after it was tied, but the Red Wings didn’t give up. Instead, they applied a ton of pressure in the third period until Gustav Nyquist tied it up with about three minutes left.

Detroit still has a long way to go to protect its remarkable playoff streak, especially when teams like the Bruins can at least salvage “charity points” with losses. If the Red Wings want to make an unlikely push, they’ll need to show the kind of resolve that was on display on yet another wild night in the NHL.