Some surprises among NHL’s worst special teams units
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|