Canadiens GM Lennart Westman and Detroit GM Mathias Lundgren combine their efforts again to rank the 32 BEARD Hockey teams by prowess on the penalty kill.
This is the second of three articles focusing on special teams in BEARD Hockey. While the first one ranked the teams risk to gather penalty minutes the following two will focus on their ability to fight them off (PK) and ability to profit from the man advantage (PP).
Once again, this is not science, just a look at certain numbers, a brief analysis and some occasionally sarcastic comments on them. Hopefully no one takes offense or get too upset due to flaws in our methods.
However, To calculate the success in PK we have focused on CK/SK/DF on the top four defenders. You may argue we should have added PH and PA, but in this model we´re happy if we can clear the zone rather than make quick counter attacks. With the six top forwards we added FO, since winning the face off is crucial here. The value presented is an average based on those stats divided by the number of categories.
With those reservations and explanations made – here goes!
Mathias and Lennart
#32 WINNIPEG (76,93) They wont check or stress your PP and not even focus on defense while in PK. They put their trust in netminder Hellebuyck and look to make the turnovers this model doesn’t favor. Their salvation might be the fact that they’re not likely to get many penalties against (rank 30 in previous article).
#31 ARIZONA (78,43) Similar build as Winnipeg. The team least likely to get a penalty against, but when they do? Then they would be the second most likely team to end up picking the puck out of their own net. And unlike Winnipeg they don’t have the netminder to help them out. The salvation might instead be Kopitar, likely to win more face offs than others.
#30 PITTSBURGH (78,57) Another team that is built not to take many penalties, but will have problems once they do. Not much defensive thinking here and no checking or exceptional skating skills to make up for it either. Will GM Swackhammer look for reinforcement or just hold his breath and hope to avoid penalties?
#29 SEATTLE (78,80) With Skjei just about the only one rating high in this model and Horvat the only one winning face offs at all we smell problem and a high likeliness to get scored on in PK. And Bernier/Korpisalo in net? You hold on to that first pick 2021, GM Springgay!
#28 CAROLINA (78,90) With only four teams more likely to stock up penalty minutes it should be really worrying to GM Williams to find his team this low in this rank. Hardly any defensive thinking and lower skating skills than average makes us believe that Bobrovsky may end up having av much higher GAA than he would wish for…
#27 BOSTON (79,03) On the upper half of teams likely to get penalized GM Graczyk probably didn’t want his team in this spot. We predict this will be a team with higher GAA than many other teams, especially in PK.
#26 NEW JERSEY (79,07) This is a team with the somewhat opposite situation. Not very likely to draw penalties and at least a decent PK. Toews will win a lot of face offs and the defence has good skating and a good chance to clear the zone. The keeper is not included in this model, but he is one of the top netminders in the league, if not the best. Still only rank 26 though.
#25 CALGARY (79,10) Low risk, decent PK. Might have problems winning face offs and be a little to prone to look for turnovers rather than clear the zone. Last team on the lower quarter of the rank. Might reflect their ambition with this first year in all…
#24 NEW YORK RANGERS (79,13) Rank 14 in the previous article and 24 here should set off some alarms over at the Madison Square Garden. Who will take the physical struggle when Foligno/Dillon is serving time? Who will help Johnson clear the slot? And most importantly – who will win the face offs??? Giving away all those areas might be a bigger problem than GM McAndrews begged for...
#23 ANAHEIM (79,27) Still, the Rangers’ expected problems is NOTHING compared to this team’s! One of the four highest ranked teams to take penalties and only rank 23 in the ability to fight them off. The defensive mind might be there, and the D-men will take a hit or two, but any team with good skaters will wear this PK down. They can only pray that Fleury is up to the challenge and does not get injured…
#22 PHILADELFIA (79,60) Not very physical, but good on the skates and with a decent defensive orientation Philly will fight off quite a few of the rare penalties against they’ll get. We guess GM Wolf is pretty happy with how his team looks in this aspect.
#21 MINNESOTA (79,60) With a higher third decimal than the Flyers Minnesota end up at rank 21. The only major problem we see is that the average is strongly affected by a few individuals. Behind Jones’ DF, Wilson’s CK and Dvorak’s FO the stats are not the same. And since Wilson most likely is the one in the box the problems might be greater than rank 21 implies…
#20 LOS ANGELES (79,67) Similar profile as Minnesota. The average is OK, but behind Pesce, Pageau and Simmonds there’s not really much to drive the stats. They were in the middle of the rank for risk to get penalties and just about in the middle here too. A trade for more DF might change that.
#19 COLORADO (79,80) Another team where the alarms should be sounding! They will take a lot of penalties and will have problems fighting them off! Too little defensive awareness and defenders reluctant to check might be a problem. Given the opportunity they will create turnovers, for sure, but then again that opportunity may not come since the opposition is more likely to score first.
#18 WASHINGTON (79,87) Not likely to get penalties and average ability to fight them off. Great DF-minded defenders, decent face offs if Bellemare will play PK and decent checking. As the Swedes would say: ”Lagom”.
#17 CHICAGO (79,97) Great defensive mindset, good skating, decent face off stats and a bit below average checking brings GM Bacon to the middle of the rank. A place where most expect the Blackhawks to be found in the final standings as well.
#16 VEGAS (80,00) This is a team predicted to struggle in many areas this year, PK being one of those areas. While Giroux will win many face offs the physical and defensive skills are just not there.
#15 DALLAS (80,40) As Dallas is the second least likely team to get penalties rank 15 in PK should be quite OK, we guess. Sure, even more DF and at least one player really good at FO would be even better, but this team will have a decent PK percentage by the end of the year.
#14 ST LOUIS (80,4) Close to the same average as Dallas, but with a much bigger problem than the Texans. You might remember that St Louis was the highest ranked team when it came to the risk of taking penalties. By far. Not being better prepared for PK will therefor be a problem. They have the skill to skate and move the puck, but we doubt that is enough against a strong PP. Where is the necessary defensive mindset? Where are the disciplined checkers? Leaving their PK success to two centers winning face offs and a 22 year old goalie to stop all the expected shots coming through will most likely not make it for the Blues.
#13 OTTAWA (80,4) The third team where only the third decimal differ from the other two. Slightly better DF, way better SK but poor CK and FO brings the Senators down. A more physical center with good FO might/should be on the shopping list.
#12 TORONTO (80,5) We asked the question already in the last article, ranking Toronto the second most likely team to suffer from penalties: With the undisciplined defenders in the box, who will stand up for one of the most unexperienced goalies in the league? The upside is that the blue line is impressively physical with high DF. And if Dubinsky plays PK they will win some face offs too, but we would have liked to see better skating abilities over all not to predict trouble for Toronto.
#11 COLUMBUS (80,57) When your best C at face offs is one of the players with the highest risk of spending time in the box your PK could be in serious trouble. But counting Mr. Miller’s stats as if he was on the ice rather than off Columbus PK looks ok. Not great DF average, but overall good skating and decent checking takes the Bluejackets almost all the way to top ten.
#10 NASHVILLE (80,60) In the last article we predicted that the rare combination of high checking and low discipline might cause the Predators serious trouble. The salvation might come through a couple of the best centers when it come to FO in the entire league. Bergeron and Couturier will be extremely important to the PK success as the checking and defensive skills with the defenders isn’t great.
#9 SAN JOSE (80,60) As the Sharks will be on the upper third in the PIM stats it’s necessary to have a good PK. They will lose the critical face offs against most teams, but their physicality and really good skating skills will wear many opponents down, stressing them to make mistakes. That’s why the rank as high as nine, despite the embarrassingly low FO skill with the centers.
#8 DETROIT (80,73) The skating skills with the team on the whole is not too impressive, neither is the defensive mindset. But cutting it down to a PK, counting only the six best forwards and the four best defenders it turns out they will have a strong PK. GM Lundgren has been looking to trade Spezza from time to time and if he do, we expect him to find a center just as good at FO. Otherwise at least the PK will suffer.
#7 BUFFALO (80,73) Once again, if your rank was high in the previous article you for sure need to be high in this rank too. And the Sabres are! An excess of forward grit for sure will help – as long as the players are on the ice and not in the box. With a little higher DF among the forwards this team would have been even higher ranked.
#6 EDMONTON (80,97) This must be what every GM would want when it comes to minimizing risk to be scored on in PK – the combination of a small risk of taking penalties (rank 25) and a very high rank in the ability to fight the few penalties off successfully. Not very physical, but good skating skills and a defensive mindset will help this team as their success overall will depend on more the ability to not be scored on rather than score a lot of goals themselves.
#5 NEW YORK ISLANDERS (81,13) The team with the highest checking average on F will get a lot of penalties, but also manage to fight them off well. The lack of physical D or even a decent DF stat overall is a problem, but great skating skills and the highest FO average takes the Islanders to rank five.
#4 MONTREAL (81,40) Being one of the teams with a lot of expected PIMs the upcoming season Montreal at least can comfort themselves having a good shot at defending in PK. No exceptional stats to be found anywhere, but a high average on all counted stats overall take the Canadiens to rank 4.
#3 VANCOUVER (81,60) Another pleasant combination when it comes to risk/ability. Vancouver will not take too many penalties while their ability to be successful in PK is really good. High checking, good skating and good DF in combination with three centers with really high FO sure must feel good to GM Sanderson.
#2 FLORIDA (81,80) It may surprise some that a team with a CK-average this low rank this high in PK. Well, the skating skill within the special team is really good, just as the DF stats. And with Stastny and Johansen in the face off circle you get the second best PK in the league!
#1 TAMPA (83,63) Lethal checking, high defensive awareness among the top four defenders, very good skating skills on the top players and two really skilled centers when it comes to face offs. Sum that up and you will find the team that by far ranks the highest when it comes to the ability to fight penalties off. As we mentioned in the previous article there will also be a lot of opportunities to prove they’re worthy of this rank…