Wednesday, September 28, 2005


O.K., I will be honest. I didn't watch much of the Leafs-Sabres game last night. As per usual, the Meatman provides a better review than I could anyway.

Instead I will use this inaugural post to complain about my least favourite hockey statistic. With the increase in penalties this year, this stat could bug me even more. The statistic in question? Power Play Percentage. I can't think of a more useless statistic. It begins to tell a story that needs to be told but it could be told so much simpler. What is more important to a team, what percentage of time they score a power play goal or the absolute number of power play goals that they have?

Currently the NHL ranks power play proficiency based on the percentage. But if you are time that draws more penalties but scores on the PP less frequently, you can score more PP goals but be ranked lower. This is nonsense. The currency of an NHL game is goals. Statistics should be measured in this currency, not in a percentage.

It is said that if you add up a teams PP and PK percentages and you get to 100 you have good special teams. Again, nonsense. You have good special teams if you subtract the number of goals given up on the penalty kill from goals scored on the power play and you have a positive number. The teams with the best differential has the best special teams. Period.

End of rant.


  1. As a service to the new kids on the block, I just checked it out, and the average difference between rank by PP% and rank by PP goals is 4 (2003/2004).

    Some interesting ones:

    ATL was ranked 23rd by % but would have been 10th by PP goals. Let's all pray they don't increase their %.

    CBJ was ranked 24th by % but would have been 12th by goals. Again, let's hope they didn't get some coaching over the off-season

    Other "positive" movers:
    Nashville from 11th to 4th!
    Buffalo from 18th to 11th
    Vancouver from 22nd to 13th

    The big losers would be:
    Boston 17th by % but 26th on goals.
    Florida from 13 to 21
    Jersey from 15 to 23rd

    Sadly, the Oilers wer 29th on % and 29th on goals. Sigh

  2. I don't see a issue with the way they do it. You can't lump all the special teams into one category. Not to many teams have the same guy's killing penalties as on the Power Play. Teams like Pittsburgh have historically had bad Penalty Kills becuse they use a "Score More than scored against" phillosiphy which makes for exciting hockey. Doesn't make for a good sound defensive strategy.

    For the offense if you're scoring on 50% of your power plays regardless of how many penalties, you're doing better than a team that scores 40% of the time.

  3. It's obviously a useful concept, if not the greatest statistic. The other thing that buggers things up, and would appear to be even worse this season, is overlapping penalties.

    It always bugs me to hear after a game that a team was (say) 1 for 8 on the PP, when I know at least three of those PPs were less than two minutes.

  4. That is true Matt, a lot of the PP's and PK's are shortened by an opposing teams penalties.

    But in the end it's wins and losses that make the biggest impact!

  5. I forget to add shorthand goals allowed and scored into the equation. You need to include those to get a true sense of special teams.