February 05 2013 05:25PM
by Michael Miller via Wikimedia Commons
I developed Special Teams Efficiency (STE) as a way of comparing the gains and losses in special teams efficiency between teams. It's a measure of efficiency (% of power plays converted + % of penalties killed) and nothing else. Penalties drawn or taken don't figure into it directly. I explained then:
If we had a simple metric to apply to special teams, we could get a sense of just how much of an impact special teams can have on a season. Since the league average for power play success percentage plus penalty kill success percentage is 100, why not add the two and use it as a baseline for measuring special teams efficiency? Though the tendency to regress toward the mean may be somewhat less strong (but then again, maybe not!), it may still be useful as an evaluation tool. In this case, we'll call the combined number Special Teams Efficiency, or STE. Since the post-lockout orgy of power plays (2005-2007) the per team yearly average of special teams situations is 643. If all teams were to draw the same amount of penalties, a team with a 100 STE would net zero special teams goals. It follows, then, that a team with a 105 STE would net 32 special teams goals more than average, and a team with a 95 STE would net 32 special teams goals less than average.
STE correlates with season-to-season performance much more strongly than I'd initially anticipated. Below is a table containing the R^2 Correlation between team STE and total points:
Though the season is still too young to gain anything from goals gained/lost, there are some interesting numbers at play.
The highest post-lockout (2004) STE has been the Canucks' 109.9 in 2010-11. After that, four teams, Detroit 05-06, Anaheim 06-07, San Jose 08-09, and Pittsburgh 11-12 have bested 107.5. So let's call 110 the upper bound of possibility in an 82 game season, but 107.5 likely to lead the league. That means the top seven teams by this metric would typically watch their STE erode through the season. But with only 48 games to play, luck is the biggest factor in the final standings and it's possible that multiple teams could finish better than 110.
Logic dictates that if the upper bound is 110, the lower bound should fall somewhere around 90. In fact, the five lowest post-lockout STEs have been posted by the 09-10 Maple Leafs - 88.6, 09-10 Islanders - 92.3, the 11-12 Blue Jackets - 92.1, the 06-07 Blues - 92.1, and the 10-11 Oilers - 91.5. Those bottom eight teams should regress, but in a compressed season, will one of these teams fall below 90 and match the Maple Leafs all-time non-expansion ineptness?