This morning, I took a look at a special teams rank called the Bowman Index, by where a team's leaguewide rank in both the power play and penalty kill are added together to make a unified score. According to legendary head coach Scotty Bowman, a team should ideally have a combined rank which adds to 10 or less. In that post, I looked at that index compared to 5-on-5 play during the regular season to see how well that matched up to a team's playoff expectations.
Now I want to take a slightly different look at special teams again. This time I don't have all the figures for teams going back to the playoffs, but I want to get a little deeper into this season's rate stats and what exactly that means for special teams. We all know that a team can have a meaningless two-second power play to end a blowout win which hurts their overall percentage rank, but that doesn't mean we can't look at it another way.
Looking just at power play effectiveness, you can get a decent sense of how a team is doing at special teams, but there's also something of an underlying assumption that all things are created equal in a statistical world ruled by a single percentage figure. Unfortunately, that's not how the real world works. We all know that 10% of 1,000 is bigger than 50% of 100, after all. With that in mind, there are plenty of good sites out there which have advanced statistical data which help shine the light of context on these stats. Behind the Net is a great source for advanced statistics, as is HockeyCSSI.com.
Below the jump, I've put together a ranking of the NHL teams based on end-of-season expected special teams production.
These numbers are taken from all teams as of the end of February. What I've done is taken the per-game rate of power plays for and against each team and taken that out to an 82-game size. I then took the expected amount of PPs and PK for each team and multiplied them by their current effectiveness to get an expected end-of-season number of power play goals scored and power play goals given up. Then, I took the rate of short-handed goals for and against and added those in. The final figure is the expected special teams score differential for each team.
|Columbus Blue Jackets
|Detroit Red Wings
|Los Angeles Kings
|New Jersey Devils
|New York Islanders
|New York Rangers
|San Jose Sharks
|St. Louis Blues
|Tampa Bay Lightning
|Toronto Maple Leafs
Sorted by rank, you'll see that Detroit is in the middle of the pack here. If things continue to go as they have, we can expect that Detroit will lose the special teams battle for the season with a negative differential.This will make their jobs that much more difficult in the playoffs.
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh continues to maintain a very good team thanks to having their PP and PK specialists carrying a large portion of their burden. Boston and Vancouver are two teams which have a very good special teams differential and a very good even strength differential. They are going to be top contenders.
Here is the expected special teams goals for/against in ratio format ranked from 1-30 as well as each team's current Bowman Index and Bowman Index Ranking
|Team||Special Teams GF/GA Ratio||Bowman Index
||Bowman Index Rank
|New York Rangers||1.23||34||20|
|New York Islanders||1.04||25||8|
You'll notice a lot of ties in the ranking because the Bowman Index allows for teams to do that easily. They're not broken, but they are the reason for missing numbers. If two teams are tied for #1, that doesn't mean the next-best team after them is #2. They are the third-best team in the league at it.