Published on April 16th, 2012 | by James Conley1
New Stat: Special Teams Opportunities Converted. LOL
Before the series began, we touched on the importance of special teams in deciding the outcome of this Pens-Flyers series.
Here we are.
There are plenty of standard metrics you can use to show just how historically awful Pittsburgh’s special teams units have been against the Flyers.
The most glaring is a straight-up comparison of special teams goals scored.
Let’s start there.
9 ST Goals
3 ST Goals
Head-to-head, that’s a minus-six in terms of special teams goals. I have another way of looking at it. More on that later.
Power Play Percentage
The Flyers have six power play goals and three shorthanded while the Pens have tallied three power play markers.
In almost any context, a 25 percent power play would be spectacular. It’s a 24.07 percent improvement on their power play group of last season, yet still trails Philadelphia’s power play effectiveness by 35 percent—the Flyers are converting on 60 percent of their man-advantage chances (6-10).
This is an abortion.
Penalty Kill Percentage
If all things remain fairly constant, this Penguins group will finish with the best penalty kill in franchise history in the regular season (87.6 percent), yet the worst in franchise postseason history (40.0 percent through three games).
The Flyers scored at least one power play goal in each game of the series so far.
Philadelphia’s penalty kill should be considered one of the worst at 75.0 percent effectiveness. Truthfully, everything about their defense has to at least be considered subpar. Are they going to get away with a 75.0 percent penalty kill and 4 goals allowed per game against the Bruins and Rangers?
They won’t, but those numbers won’t cost them a first round win against the Penguins, whose defensive strategy seems to have been conceived on a Lite Brite board under a fort made of desk chairs and all the blankets in the house.
Now the stat.
Special Teams Opportunies Converted, or STOC Plus-Minus
STOC Plus-Minus is a new stat that probably sucks and is definitely made up, but here we go.
STOC takes into account every special teams opportunity a club faces in a given game, or power play and penalty kill chances combined. A power play counts one opportunity, a 5-on-3 counts two, a 3-on-5 counts two, and so on.
So far, the Penguins have had 22 special teams opportunities—12 power plays and 10 penalty kills. There are no exceptions for PPs which have been cut short by minors leading to four-on-four play. The chances are nice round numbers taken from box scores.
Power Play STOC
I know the acronym is redundant, bear with me.
Of those 12 power plays, the Penguins have converted three times. That would be a minus-6 STOC.
The STOC number I made up is a balancing equation, so keep in mind that three wins and nine losses is actually only a minus-6: three on the plus-side, dragged to even by three failed attempts and arriving at a minus-6 with the six other failed power plays.
This is a loaded figure. A power play at 25.0 percent is pretty good. But the Flyers have scored three shorthanded goals in as many games.
So, no mercy. Minus-9.
Traditionally, a 25.0 percent power play is fantastic and leads to wins, until you consider that the Philadelphia power play has a plus-2 STOC—they are six for ten on the man-advantage.
This is not a skewed way of viewing the disparity in special teams success. That Philly has a power play clicking on better than half its chances is horrifying.
Penalty Kill STOC
So what of the Pens’ penalty kill? They’ve killed 40 percent of their chances. Four up, six down and the penalty kill is a minus-2 STOC.
Forgive for a moment my made-up stat and consider this—in order for a penalty kill to have a STOC that is even or negative requires a kill that is effective on no more than half its chances. Even the league’s worst kills finish above 70 percent in the regular season, on average.
And this: a 40 percent penalty kill is 47.7 percent worse than the unit that finished the regular season third-best in the NHL.
Philadelphia, 9-for-12 on the penalty-killing STOC scale, is a plus-six. Seventy-five percent sounds bad, but in this series the number is the stuff of virtuosos.
Shorthanded goals count on both sides of the ledger. Throw in the unspeakable man-down goals and the Flyers have a plus-nine PK STOC.
While the teams are only separated by six special teams goals, looking at each special teams instance as a chance for a win or loss puts into perspective how the Pens have managed to drop three straight game by a combined score of 20-12.
Philadelphia has scored only two more even-strength goals than Pittsburgh.
That’s why we said this.
And then this.
And now this.
Penguins’ STOC Game Log
0-3 PP = Minus-3
0-1 PK = Minus-1
G1 Total = Minus-4
2-4 PP = Even
1-2 PK = Even
2 SHG agst = Minus-2
G2 Total = Minus-2
1-6 PP = Minus-4
3-6 PK = Even
1 SHG agst = Minus-1
G3 Total = Minus-5