Silver Nuggets: Where do the special teams go from here?

Milan Michalek and the Senators have been scoring on an unusually large percentage of their power play shots. (Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)

As you are likely aware, the Ottawa Senators have had a very good power play and a very bad penalty kill. The power play has been ranked #1 in the league for stretches and is currently #4. The penalty kill had been dead last for large periods, but is currently #26. The question is, will the power play stay near the top all season and will the penalty kill be near the bottom all season?

Let's look at the power play first. The Senators have 13 power play goals in 53 opportunities for a 24.5% conversion. The 13 power play goals are the fourth most in the league but the 53 power plays are only the 17th most. Digging deeper, the Senators score 9.4 goals per 60 minutes of 5-on-4 ice time, which is also the third highest. The 76.4 minutes of 5-on-4 ice time is 22nd most in the league. Looking at the number of shots the Senators get on their power play (considering only 5-on-4 power plays), it's only 47.1 shots per 60 minutes of power play time, that's only about 1.57 shots per two minutes of power play. However, the Senators are scoring on 20% of their power play shots, which is the second highest in the league. Is that sustainable? The short answer is no. The Vancouver Canucks led the NHL last year with a 16.6% shooting percentage in 5-on-4 situations. Since the 2007-2008 season, the highest 5-on-4 shooting percentage has been 18.1% and keep in mind that is the highest shooting percentage in the last four seasons.

On the penalty kill side, the Senators allow 9.7 goals per 60 minutes of 4-on-5 which is very close to their 5-on-4 scoring rate of 9.4. However, the Senators have been in 4-on-5 situations for 105.6 minutes, the second most in the NHL. That is a difference of almost 30 minutes between penalty kill and power play, or almost two minutes per game. In terms of shots allowed, the Senators are slightly worse than average, allowing 53.4 shots per 60 minutes, tied for 12th most. The Senators goaltending has stopped only 81.9% of shorthanded shots which is 26th in the league. The lowest 4-on-5 save percentage last season was 83.5% by the Toronto Maple Leafs. Since 2007-2008. the lowest save percentage was 82.4% by the 2008-2009 Maple Leafs (I am sensing a pattern here).

The power play is currently shooting more efficiently than anyone has in recent history, and the goaltending is saving less shots than recent history would suggest. However, the Senators are taking a lot more penalties than they are getting power plays, and they rank in the bottom third in power play shots but are middle of the pack in allowing shorthanded shots. For this reason, the power play is more likely to regress than the penalty kill will improve.

Links after the jump.

Last game

General Sens News
  • Daniel Alfredsson skated on the second line today with Nick Foligno and Stéphane Da Costa so I would guess #11 plays on 11-11-11. Bobby Butler was sent to the fourth line and Chris Neil didn't practise. (Sylvain St-Laurent)
  • Matt Carkner was in practise on the fourth pairing with Brian Lee. (Sylvain St-Laurent)
  • Don Brennan thinks the Senators should bring back Wade Redden if he walks away from the last two years of his contract with the Rangers. Apparently, if he doesn't report to the AHL next season, the Rangers can declare the contract void. Would you want to see Redden back in Ottawa at a league minimum salary? Also, the Senators might be without Chris Neil at some point in the next few games as his wife is expecting their third child. (Ottawa Sun)
  • Here is an entire article about Jason Spezza and face-offs. Spezza definitely seems to look at the stats closely, pointing out that in Detroit they give any benefit of the doubt to the Detroit players in terms of a face-off win. Spezza has a 63.4% win rate at home and a respectable 49.0% on the road. Overall he is 57.6% and leads the NHL with 361 draws taken. (Ottawa Citizen)
  • The Binghamton Senators lost 3-0 in Hershey last night and were outshot 35-15. (Press & Sun-Bulletin)
  • Do you want a commemorative 20th anniversary Senators magazine? (EMC Kanata)
  • This article summarises my feelings about Zenon Konopka and Sean Avery's fight last night. Less than three minutes into a game that had nothing happen yet, the two decide to fight to "settle" scores or whatever the point of it was. It was such a ridiculous delay to the game. (Globe and Mail)
  • After Bryan Murray suggested he might be looking to acquire an "NHL forward", Nichols wouldn't be totally against it as long as it isn't a Matt Cullen kind of deal. (The 6th Sens)
  • Mark Borowiecki has been playing well and Ottawa fans will get a chance to see him when Binghamton plays in Ottawa on Sunday. (Ottawa Senators)
  • UPDATE: Chris Neil will not play in Buffalo or Toronto this weekend due to an ankle injury. (Ian Mendes)
General Hockey News
  • Is homophobia slowly decreasing in hockey due to the high profile efforts of Brian Burke and Sean Avery? (Hockey in Society)
  • If you have some time tonight and like junior hockey, the OHL All-Stars will play the Russian National U20 team tonight in Ottawa at the Civic Centre. The OHL has never lost to Russia, winning all 16 games. The Russian team will include Nail Yakupov among other names. I would assume Matt Puempel will also play. (Sportsnet)
  • Last night, the Tampa Bay Lightning refused to send a single forechecker into the Philadelphia Flyers zone. The Flyers responded by mocking Tampa Bay and literally standing around and doing nothing and I applaud the Flyers for this. I hated Tampa Bay for this in the playoffs last year and am glad to see someone take a stand. Tampa Bay won in the end, so I guess being painfully boring works. The question is, if this becomes frequent, does the league need to do something about it? (Yahoo!)
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