Kukla's Korner

A special look at special teams

Power Play and Penalty Killing percentages are the standard measuring stick for NHL special teams performance, but mathematically they miss an important aspect of the game.  When a team is successful (the PP scores or the PK doesn’t get scored on) they get a “1”, and when unsuccessful (the PP fails to score, or the PK gives one up) they get a “0”.  Sum those values up, divide by the number of opportunities, and you get the appropriate percentage.  But what about the situations that truly deserve a “-1”, like when your slow-footed power play quarterback gets caught by a speedy opponent and gives up a breakaway the other way, resulting in a goal?  Under traditional measurements, those scenarios are ignored.

Over at Pension Plan Puppets, a Toronto Maple Leafs blog, Chemmy digs into this issue and derives Adjusted PP and PK rates, by penalizing power play units that give up goals (the New York Rangers have 13 goals against on the PP!), and rewarding penalty killers who score shorthanded (Philadelphia leads in that category, also with 13).

It provides a more thorough picture of special teams performance, and taking the Rangers as an example, if you thought their 27th-ranked 14% power play was bad, wait until you see how those goals against impact that figure!

Filed in: NHL Statistical Analysis, | On the Forecheck | Permalink


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