Don't Blame Special Teams for Everything

Due for a good old fashioned gorilla math blog here. I wanted to take a look at just how much special teams success could drive a teams winning percentage and points percentage. It is both arguably a huge part of the game, and a small part of the game. Meaning, a limited amount of time during the game can completely change the outcome.

To get a cheap look at this, my method was to add up each team's PP% and SH%, and compare it both to their winning percentages and point percentages.

All data provided by NHL.com (not kidding)

First, here is a look at how each team has performed in this Special Teams Success metric since the lockout:

[In reality, I just wanted an excuse to make a box plot in R. The Rangers consistency is mind-boggling. That HAS to be all Lundqvist and the PK. Perhaps that deserves a deeper dive, as well]

[In reality, I just wanted an excuse to make a box plot in R. The Rangers consistency is mind-boggling. That HAS to be all Lundqvist and the PK. Perhaps that deserves a deeper dive, as well]

This chart confirms something we already knew, the Leafs are bad, and the Red Wings are good (you may have heard about the Leafs hiring the Red Wings old coach during this off-season), which is encouraging for the rest of our analysis.

The next step was to run a scatter plot for Special Teams Success to both Winning Percentage and Points Percentage, and see if there is a significant R^2 associated with either team success metric.

Winning %

Adjusted R^2 = .3481

Adjusted R^2 = .3481

Points %

Adjusted R^2 = .3634

Adjusted R^2 = .3634

Special Teams Success does record a P-value < 0.05 on both Winning Percentage and Points Percentage proving that it is statistically relevant, but the adjusted R^2 is a little too low for my liking to designate measuring special teams success as a good barometer for team success in the standings.

So, don't go blaming all of your teams woes on the PP/PK just yet, I'm looking at you, Perry Pearn, Mike Sullivan, and Scott Arniel.