Thursday, October 15, 2009

Special Teams Plus Minus, Net Goals in 2008-09


Yesterday I posted some simple yet interesting stats for the early part of this season. It's uncertain if I'll be able to make that a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly special but I'll be tracking these things all season long.

But just to make sure I'm not crazy, I thought it would be smart to study the stats from last year to see how indicative they are of team success. It also is an interesting way to look at which teams were really deficient (or really strong) in special teams yet still managed to make (or miss) the playoffs.

First, here's the Standings for 2008-09 without sorting for the stats that tickle my fancy:

Now that you have a frame of reference, here's that list sorted by the simplest stat that we'll be tracking this season: Net Goals.

There aren't a ton of surprises there.

That being said, it's really interesting that the league's best team in Net Goals (Boston) scored 78 more goals than they allowed while the league's worst team in Net Goals (Islanders) allowed 78 more goals than they scored. Funny how things work out sometimes.

It's also interesting that only two playoff teams allowed more goals than they scored: Columbus (-4) and the Rangers (-8). This also shows that the Blue Jackets must have been one hell of an even strength team.

Perhaps the most intriguing set of stats comes in the form of the Special Teams plus-minus.

The number that sticks out the most to me here is the Columbus Blue Jackets being -29 special teams goals. 78 Special Teams Goals Allowed isn't astronomically bad ... what makes the Blue Jackets totals so bad is their anemic power play. Any CBJ pundits who are still sore that the BJ's lack a great PP point player could point to this stat and say, "How do you expect this team to make the playoffs (again) with numbers like that?"

Looking at special teams play, it must be especially heartbreaking for Minnesota Wild fans that their team narrowly missed the playoffs last season. They were second in Special Teams +/- with a +33 (12 more than the tied for 3rd place Bruins and Red Wings).

It also makes me think that maybe injuries and Sean Avery weren't the top reasons why the Dallas Stars missed the playoffs last season.

Just for your fun and to strengthen a point I made yesterday, here's some extended special teams stats:

This leads to a bit of discussion on a point I (sloppily) made yesterday: quantity of PP goals (and PP goals allowed) means a lot more to me than percentages, even though it's not a huge difference and it's easier for networks to use a %-based graphic.

There are, however, a few examples that illustrate my point. The Buffalo Sabres managed to be in the top 5 in PPG scored despite having a PP that scored about 2% less than the other top powerplays. Over 82 games, a couple percentage points can make a big difference (kind of like how a 2% save percentage difference can make a pretty huge difference in how a goalie will be perceived). Anaheim and Boston scored at 2.5% higher rate but the Sabres drew at least 40 more power plays (or about one more every other game) and therefore were able to generate more PPGs. (OK, it was only one more PPG ... but still.)

Conversely, the New Jersey Devils scored at at least a 2% higher rate on the PP than other bottom PPG scoring teams but they were only able to go on the PP 307 times (compared to Buffalo's 358) and therefore scored 17 less last season.

Does it make an enormous difference? Absolutely not. But even if it's only a slightly more accurate way of tracking the good PPs, that's good enough for me.

1 comment:

joseph burrell said...

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