Special teams, they’ve been a topic of
discussion and debate all season long, particularly to the effect of, "Why do
the Habs have so many more PK’s than PP’s?" I couldn’t help but wonder if
over the past few years there’s been a similar trend, just less noticeable than
this year, or if this is an aberration. The following are the results of
I decided to compare this year’s stats to those of the last eight seasons – the
number of seasons there’s been 30 teams in the league. I’ve done two
comparisons: One to look at where the Habs’ Powerplay and Penalty Kill ranks
compare to that of a fixed league average and another to look at the actual
differences in Powerplay and Penalty Kill opportunities. Let’s start with
Note: Rank in this instance does not show
how the team is doing success-wise but rather the number of opportunities.
Interestingly enough, despite the complaints of
the fans that say the Habs always get more penalties than their opponents, the
opposite has been the case for the most part, at least up until the last few
seasons. The other note that jumps out is that Montreal led the league in
powerplays last season which immediately takes away the absurd notion that
league has it in for the Habs somehow.
Looking at this graphically, it’s only been the past few years (since the
lockout really) where the trend starts to differ and really only this year where
the quantities of powerplays and penalty kills differ so much.
It’s one thing to look at the league rankings
over this time period, but what about the actual numbers? Let’s look at
just how many more or less PP’s and PK’s the Habs had compared to the league
average. Note that for the 2009-10 season, the numbers are extrapolated to
cover a full season. All figures rounded to the nearest whole number.
Not surprisingly, this season really jumps out
with regards to a significant lack of PP opportunities, at nearly one per game
lower than the league average. The difference is not as substantial
on the PK; although the Habs lead the league in times shorthanded, they’re also
tied for the most games played. As teams play their games in hand, the
difference isn’t quite as substantial.
When I set out to do this little study, I was
hoping to prove that there wasn’t really any sort of pattern that would suggest
biased refereeing with regards to the Habs (ie: any sort of continual trend over
the time period). Given how the Habs have been from one extreme to the
next over the past few years alone with regards to their number of powerplay
opportunities and times shorthanded, it’s hard to make a case that such a bias
exists. One other little tidbit I noted as I was going through this is
that in 2 of the past 3 full seasons, the Habs have actually had more powerplays
on the road than at home. There’s no real conclusions to draw from that,
but it is interesting as only 5 teams per season had more road PP’s than home
ones in those 2 seasons (2006-07 and 2007-08).
On behalf of the entire staff here at HabsWorld, I’d like to wish everyone a
safe and happy holiday season.