Who had the best special teams overall in 2013-14?
Earlier today, PHT took a look at who draws and avoids penalties better than anyone else. Now let’s ponder which teams are the best once the whistles are blown.
While there’s nothing wrong with judging power plays and penalty kill units based on percentages, it leaves certain factors like shorthanded goals out of the picture. Perhaps there are other ways to think about special teams, then?
An explanation if you need it (scroll if you do not)
In case you need a refresher, this stat is as simple as it gets: you simply factor power play goals for and against along with shorthanded goals for and against to get a “net” of special teams.
For instance: The Washington Capitals might seem like they had the best PP in the NHL during the 2013-14 season because they scored the most goals at 68. Unfortunately, they also allowed 10 shorthanded goals, so their power play “net” would be 58. They allowed 51 power play goals while scoring five shorties of their own, leaving them -46 (so to speak) on the penalty kill. To get special teams plus/minus (or net), you simply combine the two.
The Washington Capitals end up +12, so they created 12 more goals on special teams than they allowed. That’s very good, but not the best.
Make sense? Good.
2013-14 special teams net
With the explanation out of the way, here’s how the 30 NHL teams fared last season:
|Team||ST net||PP net||PK net|
A few takeaways:
- The Pittsburgh Penguins came out on top in large part because of how productive their power play was (that net was +59).
- The then-Phoenix Coyotes enjoyed a very productive power play, yet they weren’t very successful on the PK last season. This was an odd year for the now-Arizona ‘Yotes.
- The San Jose Sharks get a huge advantage in power-play opportunities over shorthanded work, yet they didn’t quite enjoy the best special teams by this metric. They’re close enough for it to be a big asset, though.
Since the lockout
Want a slightly bigger sample size? Let’s check out how every team did since the lockout, adding 48 regular season games to the mix:
|Team||LOCKOUT NET||13-14 ST NET||12-13 ST NET||12-13 PP NET||12-13 PK NET|
Not a whole lot of change at the top, which isn’t too shocking.
And, just for the sake of fun (keep in mind sample sizes are small and vary wildly here), here are the playoff numbers:
|Team||PLAYOFF ST NET||PP net||PP%||PK net||PK%|
Doesn’t tell you a ton, but it’s interesting that the two “worst” teams were bounced in the first round ...