As the season reaches the halfway point, it’s time to take a look at the numbers. Today, we’ll focus on special teams

The first stat we’ll look at is called total percentage. It just adds a team’s power play and penalty kill percentages together. The Penguins rank number one on this list at 113.6, well ahead of second-place Montreal at 107.5. At the other end of the spectrum, we have Florida wallowing at 85.1.

The next one is called STAR, something yours truly created. It stands for Special Teams Action Rating. Essentially, you get a plus every time you do something successfully (kill a penalty, score on the power play or shorthanded) and a minus every time you fail (give up a power play or shorthanded goal or fail to score on the power play). You then divide that by the total special teams situations. Everything over 100 percent is good.

The Penguins currently rank second in the NHL at 110.9. By this measure, the Bruins leap to number 1 at 114.5. They do so by virtue of their 6 shorthanded goals, which doesn’t show up in the percentage measure. The Pens kill penalties well, but have notched only two shorthanded goals. Once again, Florida brings up the rear at 82.0. What a joy it must be to be a Panther fan. Or maybe this is why they have no fans. Who is coaching that outfit anyway?

Now, we move on to the power play and penalty kill breakouts. First, the power play. This is power play percentage adjusted for shorthanded goals allowed. The Pens again top the list at 24.8 percent, with the Blackhawks close on their heels at 22.9 percent. I bet you can’t guess who’s at the bottom of this list. That’s right, your Florida Panthers at a paltry 9.4 percent. For what it’s worth, Minnesota and their Yeo Play are in the middle of the pack at 16.7 percent.

The final team stat we look at is the adjusted penalty kill percentage. Again, it’s the standard percentage adjusted for shorthanded goals scored. The Pens rank second at 89.7 percent. Vancouver leads the pack at 92.2 percent. I’ll bet you’re wondering who is looking up at everyone. Well, wonder no longer. It is those amazing Florida Panthers at 75 percent.

The numbers certainly show that special teams have fueled the Pens’ success thus far. They are at or near the top in every category. They rank only 12th in 5-on-5 goals for/goals against ratio at 1.07. This is likely a function of all the injuries depleting the depth. But they certainly are going to need to improve this in the second half.

Let’s move on to some individual numbers. The Pens’ top 4 penalty killers in ice time are

  • Adams
  • Sutter
  • Dupuis
  • Glass

If we look at their Corsi Ratings (essentially shot attempts for and against), we see that Dupuis and Sutter have been slightly more effective than Adams and especially, Glass. Then again, Glass has faced much tougher competition than any of the others. Crosby’s Corsi Rating is actually worse than any of the top 4 killers.

Defensively, it’s harder to make sense of the numbers because of all the injuries. Orpik and Martin are, not surprisingly, tops in time on ice per 60 minutes, followed by Scuderi and Letang. But Bortuzzo, Despres, and Maatta are all averaging over a minute of shorthanded time per game. Maata has faced by far the easiest power play competition, but Martin is also well down the list here. Letang, Orpik, Despres, and Bortuzzo have faced far more difficult opponents than Martin or Scuderi. Despite this, Martin and Scuderi have two of the bottom three Corsi Ratings among defensemen while shorthanded.

The numbers certainly show that Dan Bylsma and his staff have done a tremendous job with the special teams. When both units are at or near the top, the coaches are doing something right. They are putting the right players in the right positions to succeed. And the systems they are using are working, even with all the injuries.