Toronto Plays A Special Brand Of Bad On Special Teams

Derek Zona
February 06 2013 11:33AM

Leafs Coaching Staff
"Do any of you guys know what this is?"
Photo by Leafsfan67 via
Wikimedia Commons

If Toronto's special teamers were racehorses, we would would call him Elmer.  If they were Tibetan, they'd be vulture food.  If they were seafarers, they would live in Davy Jones locker.  The Maple Leafs have been a pretty bad team for a very long time, but their special teams have been even worse.  In 2009-10, the Leafs hit an NHL post-lockout low with an STE of 88.6, but that's par for the course for these Leafs.

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2012-13 Early Season Special Teams Efficiency (STE)

Derek Zona
February 05 2013 05:25PM

John Tavares
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:

Year R^2 Points
2005-06 0.47
2006-07 0.44
2007-08 0.36
2008-09 0.41
2009-10 0.33
2010-11 0.47
2011-12 0.29

 Though the season is still too young to gain anything from goals gained/lost, there are some interesting numbers at play.

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The Special Possibilities Of The Blue Jackets' 2013 NHL Draft

Derek Zona
February 03 2013 07:34AM

Tim Connolly
Photo by Michael Miller, via Wikimedia Commons

As I noted in the mock draft article the Columbus Blue Jackets have three first round picks in the 2013 NHL Draft. That in and of itself is not special, but with the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings both struggling, the Jackets could be in a very special position in June - they could have three of the top twelve selections in the draft.

Due to poor management, the Blue Jackets have drafted inside of the top ten in all but one entry draft since the team began play in 2000. They've picked 4, 8, 1, 4, 8, 6, 6, 7, 6, 21, 4, 2 and have traded one of their first-round picks. If their luck holds, the Jackets are set to become just the third team to hold three selections inside of the top twelve in the post-WHA expansion era.

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Power Play Opportunities Way Up In 2013

Derek Zona
February 02 2013 11:19AM

Jay Sherrers
via Wikimedia Commons

Covering the puck, interference, stick taps to the gloves, late game whistles -- referees are noticeably more picky to start the 2013 season.  The refereeing calls to mind the return of the NHL in 2005-2006 following the previous lockout when the NHL cracked down on obstruction via holding and interference calls.  The crackdown was widely viewed as a ploy to increase scoring and regain the interest of angry fans.  Power plays per team per game  jumped to 5.85, before falling back to 4.85 in 2006-2007.  By the 2011-12 season the number dropped to 3.30. 

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Luck Will Rule The 2013 NHL Season

Derek Zona
February 02 2013 10:09AM

Roulette Wheel

Colby Cosh breaks down the impact of randomness and luck in the 2013 season:

...The final league table this year will be more a product of randomness than of talent.

We should be aware that predictions about standings for this shortened season are not much good. The very best teams will be ranked high, and the very worst low: but for teams anywhere near the cutoff for the playoffs, the chances of making it into the postseason will be a lot closer to 16 out of 30, a pure crapshoot, than our lifelong experience of hockey might lead us to think.

I looked at how randomness can impact individual performances over a 48 game season in "Luck Can Dominate A 48 Game Schedule":

Brian Elliott's 2011-12 season was nothing short of stunning. His .940 save percentage was four percentage points higher than his career .901 save percentage. Ken Hitchcock was credited with saving Elliott's career and inflating his number's with a keen defensive system.  But that isn't likely.  What is more likely is that Elliott experienced the luckiest streak of his career, saving 38 more shots than pre-2011 Brian Elliott would have.  Those 38 goals account for 6 wins, which in a 48 game season can mean the difference between 1st and 10th in the conference!

Cosh's piece is outstanding - click through to read the entire thing at Maclean’s: "Randumbness? The new NHL is less predictable than you think"

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