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NHL’s best and worst in special teams plus/minus

At my old blog, I introduced (or at least I think that I introduced) some other ways to look at hockey teams. Much of that focus was on the way the league focuses on percentages to judge a team’s powerplay and penalty kill. Personally, I think totals matter more than percentages. For one thing, those numbers do not take shorthanded goals into consideration. So, a team that rolls the dice with five forwards on the PP (like Carolina often did in the past) looks better than they should since only the happy goals count. Also, let me ask you: would you rather your team score 2 goals out of 10 opportunities or 1 goal out of four opportunities?

In the next two posts, I’ll throw some of my concoctions at you. The first is my favorite stat of the three: Special Teams Plus/Minus. The formula is so simple I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s been used before (so tell me if you’ve seen it); all I do is take the good special teams goals (PP goals for, SH goals for) and subtract them by the bad special teams goals (PP goals against, SH goals against).

Click on the spreadsheet below to see how all 30 teams shape up. I’ll provide some simple analysis after the jump.

(Note: these stats are from before tonight’s games and

Image (1) special teams plus minus nbc-thumb-250x187-7653.png for post 453

So, the top six teams are the only ones to be in the double digits in ST plus/minus (in order): Detroit, Chicago, San Jose, Buffalo and Vancouver.

You can see a clear Nicklas Lidstrom effect on the Wings’ powerplay: they’ve scored 51 goals with the man advantage and only allowed one shorthanded goal so far this season. Conversely, the Blackhawks are dangerous to another team’s PP with an impressive 10 shorthanded goals.

Want one number to explain why the Toronto Maple Leafs remain in the NHL outhouse? Their league-low minus-30 ST p/m is lower than than the other worst teams (Edmonton and Florida) combined. The Predators are the best team in the ST p/m’s lower ranks, as they need to be great on 5-on-5 to make up the 12 goals they’ve lost in uneven situations.

So what do you think? Does this stat have some legs? I’ll focus on each team’s PP and PK unit as a whole in the next post.