Sterling Predictions: Special Teams

It’s time for this question for the 600th year in a row

The Sens finished 27th on the powerplay (16.6%) and 26th on the penalty kill (76.2%). It feels like we ask this question every year, but will the Sens be able to move into the top half of the league in either of those categories? Bonus: predict their end-of-season rank in each category.

Spencer: I have a hard time seeing a vast improvement in special teams under the same coaching staff and without Hoffman and Karlsson (for the powerplay). With the shadow surrounding their most talented players, who knows who will be around for the entirety of the season. There’s a possibility none of Stone or Duchene are here by mid-February which would tank the powerplay even further. I’m going to say their powerplay moves up a bit to 25th in the league and their penalty kill tops out at 20th.

Ary: Nope. I do think both will be a bit better. I’ll go with 19th for the PP, especially if Boucher fixes up the player usage, and 23rd for PK off of an increase goaltender save percentage.

Colin: With both Hoffman and Karlsson traded, I honestly don’t see how the power play can be anything but worse. Those two were relied upon heavily last season, so unless someone like Dzingel, Boedker, Ceci or Wideman can somehow be a similar catalyst (which seems unlikely), I don’t see any reason to think the PP will improve. I don’t foresee the penalty kill improving either, considering nothing has changed behind the bench and very little on the roster. I would’ve trusted Pageau to do a decent job, but now he looks to be out for a while. Plugging in guys like Pyatt, Smith and Carey aren’t going to provide much help. Prediction: power play and penalty kill both finish 29th.

B_T: Nope! I’ll go out on a limb and say the PP will improve under the direct supervision of Boucher, ending up at 19th overall. As for the PK, the last time it was good, it took Andrew Hammond posting the 19th best PK-SV% out of goalies with regular play in the cap era. Could end up anywhere in the 20s just based on dumb luck, so I’ll say it stays at 26.

NKB: Sans Karlsson and Hoffman, their two best power play scorers, it’s hard to imagine them breaking out of their years-long funk. On the penalty kill, there are some decent options up front but the back line leaves a lot to be desired. I’d be surprised if they were in the top half of the league in either category, so I’ll go with 20th for the PP and 24th for the PK.

Beata: Without Karlsson? [Insert 100 laughing emojis and also a few crying ones]

For real though, I’m kind of tempted to predict an actual improvement in their powerplay, because Sens, but logic says they’ll finish near the bottom of the standings - I’ll say 30th. I think they’ll have a bit of success near the middle of the season, as they’re forced to figure out a powerplay system that isn’t “pass the puck to Karlsson and hope for the best,” but eventually the lack of offensive talent with catch up to them and the powerplay will go back to being abysmal. One team will finish worse because there’s always that one team that gets comically bad luck with the man advantage and predicting that that team will be the Sens just seems too easy.

As for the penalty kill, I’ll say they finish 27th. The goaltending will bounce back, but the defense will struggle massively without Karlsson taking up all the minutes, so that even though he never played much on the penalty kill, his absence will still be felt in that respect.

Brandon: We’re in for a dumpster fire, there are still major questions in the goaltending and coaching departments and trading the player that anchored both special teams won’t have a great effect. Adding some youth and speed could help things a bit, butI see the Sens finishing somewhere around 26th on the powerplay, and around 20th on the penalty kill.

Nada: The Sens got weaker offensively and defensively so it doesn’t seem see like they would be improving in either PP or PK but because nothing makes sense in Sens land and the influx of young kids may spark some of offense I’m going to make a bold prediction of a PP rank of 19th in the league but the PK will def suffer especially with the loss of Pageau, I’m thinking they finish 25th in the league.

Ross: This team lost its best penalty-killer (Erik Karlsson) and best powerplay weapons (Karlsson + Mike Hoffman). The good news is the powerplay may have to try something other than Karlsson sets up Hoffman for the one-timer 1500 times per game, but that’s where the good news stops. I predict the PP ends the season 27th again. As for the PK, the goaltending is a big question, and either we see a top PK pairing of Mark Borowiecki and Cody Ceci, or one of them will always be on the ice during the PK. Either way, it’ll be the Boro, Ceci, and guys who’ve never been on an NHL PK show. With the gongshow on defence and the uncertainty in net, I predict the Sens finish 31st in the league on the PK.

Will the Sens finish 15th or higher in the league on the powerplay or penalty kill?

Yes on the PP, but not the PK7
Yes on the PK, but not the PP6
Yes for both!14

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