The three Canadian teams in the Northwest Division shared a common bond last season: their special teams weren’t all that special.
There are some issues with the way the NHL calculates its special team percentages. The Philadelphia Flyers, for example, get credit for an efficient power-play and penalty-kill but the NHL doesn’t account for shorthanded goals in its calculations. When you consider that the Flyers led the league in short-handed goals for (16) and against (1), it’s easy to see that they aren’t just good on special teams, they’re one of the best outfits in the NHL.
On the powerplay side of things, Vancouver’s ranking increased by a fair bit, Edmonton went up marginally, and Calgary’s unit plummeted thanks to 15 shorthanded goals against. On the penalty-kill, Vancouver got slightly worse, Calgary fell off by quite a bit, and Edmonton’s abysmal unit slunk closer to the bottom of the NHL pack.
- Vancouver: 17.4 + 83.3 = 100.7%
- Calgary: 12.8 + 85.1 = 97.8%
- Edmonton: 14.7 + 78.4 = 93.1%
What I’ve done here is pretty simple; I’ve taken the adjusted percentages for both units and added them together. A league-average score is 100, and it’s easy to see that none of these teams are especially good on special teams. Vancouver is just slightly better than the league average, Calgary is a fair bit worse than that and Edmonton, drug down by a truly abysmal penalty-kill is 7 percentage points back of average.
If any of these teams entertain hopes of being legitimate contenders in the near future – and Vancouver and Calgary certainly view themselves that way – these numbers need to improve. For Edmonton, massive improvements are needed simply to make it back to the post-season dance.