The Numbers of November

In Hockey on December 5, 2009 at 12:11 am

As we waved goodbye to November, we at The Campbell and The Wales have another opportunity to look at – and maybe dissect a little bit – the special teams numbers throughout the league.

Once more, we are looking at the efficiency of each team in terms of both scoring when on the power play and preventing the opposition from the same achievement. Good power plays would be those that are able to score with relatively little time with the extra skater. Jumping from 13th to 1st overall over the last month is the Columbus Blue Jackets, with a rate improving from 1 PPG every 451.818 seconds all the way up to 1 goal every 375.320 seconds. This improvement is not simply a matter of having a great game, as they topped out with 3 power play goals on the 19th in Dallas, but rather consistent and quick power play efficiency throughout the month, potting 14 man advantage markers in 4413 seconds (just over 73 minutes).

Last month’s top power play finisher, the Vancouver Canucks, stayed relatively steady, currently sitting 4th, requiring 60 extra seconds per power play goal. It seems reasonable to chalk that up to simple regression to the mean. The same can also be said of the trailing end of the list. Last month, the power play efficiency trailer, the Nashville Predators, required a full 817.5 seconds to score with the man advantage. Not only have they improved their scoring to 1 PPG per 622.706 (26th), but the bottom score now, belonging to the St. Louis Blues, is the somewhat more palatable 797.75 seconds between PPG. One other surprising team on the power play is the Pittsburgh Penguins. Even with the return of superstar Evgeni Malkin, their efficiency rate dropped from a mid-pack 552.364 down to 27th place at 699.882 – more than a full minor penalty extra between power play goals. I would have to almost assume that as more of their wounded return to action, that number will rise moving forward.

On a league level, the overall power play efficiency has remained remarkably stable, moving only a fraction of a second, from 521.606 through October only, to 521.165 between power play goals through all games played by the end of November.

Looking at the opposite end of the calculation, San Jose has the leagues most efficient penalty killers, going 757.5 seconds between power play goals against, nearly a full minute better than the runner-up….wait for it…Atlanta Thrashers! Not only were the Thrasher extremely tight-fisted on the penalty kill throughout November, allowing only 7 power play goals against in over 5795 seconds, but they also managed to score twice while killing time. Buffalo and Chicago round out the top four, after which the numbers begin to coalesce. Still holding the bottom on the defensive ledger are the Toronto Maple Leafs, allowing an opponents power play goal once every 372.308 seconds. Perhaps Leafs fans can take solace in the knowledge that, as pathetic as that number is, it is still a damn sight better than the 284.059 efficiency total they put up through October. Considering the heavier goaltending burden placed on the shoulders of the Monster in November, that is probably more than just regression. They may yet escape the basement. Another notable improvement was put forth by the Bruins, from a lowly kill efficiency score of 405.9 all up to 637.867 and 5th overall.

Heading in the opposite direction is the penalty kill of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Mid-pack through October at 525.222, they have slumped to 28th at 417.320, having surrendered multiple power play goals on four occasions last month, including 3 twice (in Anaheim and in Dallas). It could be that playing 9 out of 14 games on the road have had an adverse effect on their penalty kill, while somehow not effecting their bottom line as much, as they still managed to take 7 games to overtime last month, accumulating a total of 16 points altogether.

And to tie this all together, let’s combine the numbers, subtracting the power play score from the penalty kill score for our aggregate special teams scores through November. Ideally, teams would want numbers below zero, indicating that they are scoring power play goals faster than they surrender them when penalty killing.

Here goes:

1)  SJ    -363.981
2)  Atl    -258.124
3)  Chi    -237.929
4)  Buf    -192.004
5)  NYR    -188.387
6)  NJ    -111.188
7)  Phi    -85.066
8)  Clm    -79.960
9)  Pho    -64.248
10) Ana    -43.596
11) Van    -39.661
12) Bos    -32.067
13) Cal    -25.874
14) Ott    -7.133
15) Col    4.153
16) Was    4.652
17) Dal    22.585
18) Edm    28.727
19) Min    34.508
20) Det    49.803
21) LA    50.583
22) Pit    76.529
23) NYI    87.662
24) Tor    92.010
25) TB    125.013
26) Mon    127.866
27) Nas    132.412
28) StL    167.809
29) Car    326.577
30) Fla    328.027

  1. […] current playoff aspirants (although I haven’t yet thought up a suitable angle for the Sens), my most recent article truly brought to the forefront the heightened level of play by one of the league’s Southern […]

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