Earlier on Friday, PHT looked at the 13 teams who scored more goals than they allowed on special teams when you combine 2017-18 and 2018-19 season totals. If you’re a math whiz like me, you realize that leaves us with 18 teams on the negative side of the “special teams plus/minus” ledger.
[Part 1: Teams on the positive side.]
As a refresher, the very simple formula for special teams plus/minus is:
(Power play goals [PPG] for + shorthanded goals [SHG] for) – (PPG against + SHG against) = special teams plus minus.
Let’s run down the list of minuses (when you combine 2017-18 and 2018-19 results), with some commentary.
Teams at -16 or worse during the past two seasons combined.
- Edmonton Oilers: -12 last season, -32 combined. Not surprising, even with Connor McDavid being capable of concealing some blemishes.
- Detroit Red Wings: -17 last season, -32 combined. Also not a surprise.
- Montreal Canadiens: -14 season, -29 combined. The Canadiens were a sneaky-strong team at even strength last season, so improved special teams play could mean playoffs.
- Anaheim Ducks: -24 last season, -26 combined. One of two California teams who were a special teams disaster in 2018-19.
- Philadelphia Flyers: -18 last season, -25 combined. Will Chuck Fletcher’s many changes lead to competence in this area?
- Chicago Blackhawks: -16 last season, -24 combined. Much like the overall picture, a few dynamic scorers couldn’t fix all problems.
- Ottawa Senators: -3 last season, -20 combined. Honestly, -3 seems like a small miracle considering the Senators’ skill squalor.
- New York Islanders: -6 last season, -17 combined. The Trotz effect: improved PK, meh power play.
- Los Angeles Kings: -28 last season, -17 combined. The other California disaster. When your power play only creates 22 more goals than it allows, you’re not going to have a good time.
- Vancouver Canucks: -6 last season, -16 combined. Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser may just keep Vancouver respectable here.
Teams with negative special teams, but less than double digits. Closer to mediocre than outright bad, generally speaking.
- Columbus Blue Jackets: +6 last season, but -9 overall. The Blue Jackets failed to hit 40 PPG in either season, and now they lost Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky for the PK. Gulp.
- St. Louis Blues: +5 last season, -8 overall. Back in the day, I complained about Alex Ovechkin being on the Capitals’ power play point far too often; now I’m chiding the Blues for not putting Vladimir Tarasenko in the right “office.”
- Washington Capitals: -6 last season, -8 overall. Well, this is puzzling. During the past two seasons, Washington’s 104 power-play goals ranks eighth in the NHL, while they’re tied with Vancouver for the fifth-most allowed at 108.
- New York Rangers: -11 last season, -6 overall. All of that incoming talent, plus Mika Zibanejad? Yow.
- Buffalo Sabres: -1 last season, -5 overall. Pro tip: More Rasmus Dahlin, less Rasmus Ristolainen.
- Dallas Stars: +6 last season, -4 overall. Joe Pavelski could make their top quintet absolutely terrifying.
- Nashville Predators: -12 last season, -3 overall. If the Predators still rely on too many point shots, then what are we even doing?
- Carolina Hurricanes: even last season, -2 overall. For all that’s holy, put Dougie Hamilton on the first unit instead of Justin Faulk. C’mon.
Here is the full list of 31 teams group from highest special teams plus/minus to lowest from 2018-19; you can also check the plus teams here. Some teams were positive one season and negative the other, so this chart adds some context.
|TEAM||special teams +/-||2017-18 +/-||two years +/-||PPG||SHGA||PPGA||SHGF|
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James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.