Wednesday, March 15, 2006

PP Tidbit #1

The NHL power play and ways of measuring PP performance is a little pet project of mine. I imagine this will be the first of a few statistical morsels I'll throw out here...

Last week I did a quick survey of 2005-2006 NHL teams' top 5 players by PP ATOI and position and here's what I came up with (after excluding players with 15 GP or less and some recent trades):

Number of teams with 2 defensemen in their top 5: 19

Number of teams with 1 defenseman in their top 5: 8

Number of teams with 0 defensemen in their top 5: 2

Number of teams with >2 defensemen in their top 5: 1

This should give a rough idea of leaguewide PP personnel decisions regarding forwards on the 1st PP unit. Basically, the majority of teams still use a traditional 2 dmen in their first unit. As might be expected, the tradtionally inept New Jersey Devils had 3 dmen in their 1st Power(less) Play unit. Carolina and the NYR were the two teams that had no dmen in their top 5 by PP ATOI.

Now if you expand it to the top 10 players on each team by PP ATOI, you get:

Number of teams with "=4" defensemen in their top 10: 10

Number of teams with "<4" defensemen in their top 10: 18

Number of teams with ">4" defensemen in their top 10: 2

This shows that even more NHL teams probably use four forwards on the PP, when both units are considered. This is important to note because it has become increasingly obvious to me that forwards are generally better able to generate offense on the PP than defensemen are as measured by PPP/hr.

The Oilers?
Ignoring Spacek and Tarnstrom for the time being, they are at 2/5 and 4/10 which is more than a little disappointing considering the early success of Stoll in the four forward unit.

In 2003-2004, the reigning PP-Minute Sinkhole was none other than Steve Staios. In 2005, he lost his title almost without contest to the new, undisputed PP Minute Sinkhole - Marc-Andre Bergeron. Now that Spacek is in the mix, he is sure to threaten MAB's ability to waste PP minutes in an Oiler uniform in 2006 and maybe even beyond as the braintrust insists on throwing another unproductive dman out there next to Pronger. The past career performance of Spacek, Staios and Bergeron suggests that they are not able to generate offense in terms of PPP/hr.

The two wild cards are Tarnstrom and Samsonov. Tarnstrom has done nothing but put up excellent PP numbers for a defenseman until this year. If you have to play 2 defensemen on your first unit, then the numbers suggest that Tarnstrom and Pronger are light years ahead of the rest. Also, Samsonov's presence provides a glimmer of hope for a new, more progressive Oilers' PP as they now have another accomplished PP producing forward, but it remains to be seen whether or not the coaching staff will change their ways.


Blogger speeds said...

I have to wonder why the Oilers can't just throw Smyth, Hemsky, Stoll, Samsonov and Pronger out there.

At least, those would be the 5 I'd chuck out there, is Horcoff statistically ahead of Stoll as a PP producer, by PPP per hour?

I can at least understand the motivation for 2 D on the 2nd PP unit, especailly if they don't even get on the ice until 30 seconds left in the PP.

Which setup do you think favors the Oilers more, Smyth, Samsonov, Horcoff on the F lines with Hemsky and Pronger on the points, or Smyth Hemsky and Samsonov up front with Stoll and Pronger on the points?

3/15/2006 2:10 pm  
Blogger speeds said...

ahh, I now see you posted the numbers in LT's comments section

Intersting to see Smyth at the bottom of the 6 one might expect at the top (Hemsky, Horcoff, Stoll, Pronger, Samsonov, and Smyth).

To what extent, if any, can one quantify Smyth's agitation in front of the net, how many PPP per hour is that worth, if he screens the goalie and doesn't get a point on the goal but is at least partially repsonsible for it going in? Or gets a goalie "off his game"?

Likely a moot point, as EDM's coaches wouldn't take him off the PP even if he weren't a good option. We can see that with Spacek out in Stoll/Horcoff's place already.

3/15/2006 2:23 pm  
Blogger Dennis said...

The whole thing with Hemsky on the point...I used to like that idea but he does such good work down low that I think that element combined with his lack of a big or accurate off the point means he's better down by the faceoff circles. I know I'm gonna miss some guys but when I think of forwards running a point I think of guys like Sakic and Richards who can of course pass off the point but also have big shots..or at least accurate ones.

I see three plays from the Oilers PP right now:

1. The cross-ice pass from Hemsky to Spacek. 6 keeps shagging this up by not getting it off quick enough but Hemsky can usually execute his end of the deal at least once a PP

2. The cross-crease pass which debuted in CBJ, ie the Smyth goal, and once again came to the forefront with the Horc goal on Sunday night. And the cool thing about this is that both 12 and 83 can thread the needle for this particular wrinkle.

3. Pronger hammers the puck and Smyth tips or he screens

So now I'm thinking that if we replace 6 with 16 then 16 gets his shot off quicker than 6 so Hemsky's passes might find a more receptive and quicker stick. Also we could get Stoll's shot off from the point too.

But in lieu of Stoll I'd take Tanrstrom too. Dick's better on the PP and plus we're saving Spacek for the first shift after the PP ends.

3/15/2006 5:25 pm  
Blogger RiversQ said...


One is to measure PPGD/hr. That should credit some players that make strong PP contributions but don't grab points for whatever reason.

Another interesting measure might be to just take the individual PPP/hr number or the PPGD/hr and normalize with the overall team PPGD/hr number. They are two different measurements that mean very different things, but you could compare between teams more easily than you can with the current stats.

One other thing: Keep in mind that the PPP/hr number can flip about 0.2 PPP/hr either way fairly easily. It only takes a couple of PP points in a night or 2-3 nights of nothing to move the number quite a bit. Right now, Hemsky and Horcoff are alone at the top and Samsonov, Smyth, Stoll and Pronger are all pretty much the same.

Dennis: I think you underrate Hemsky's shot. I'm pretty sure he could do the trick back there.

3/15/2006 6:26 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

Dennis said...
1. The cross-ice pass from Hemsky to Spacek. 6 keeps shagging this up by not getting it off quick enough but Hemsky can usually execute his end of the deal at least once a PP.

Ya, I've been lamenting the same thing. I mean I think that Spacek has looked terrific in copper and blue, and I hadn't really noticed him much before the trade. And even though much of that can probably be attributed to playing with Pronger, he's been plain old good I think.

But damn, the guy has just flat out missed on that play a shitload.

Also: Saw Hemmer play the point in a preseason game once. Absolute dynamite. Helluva one-timer too. Granted he brings so much to the game on the halfwall now ... and with Samsonov deep and Pronger high, that's a pretty terrific left side of the PP. I mean I don't want to go too nuts throwing flowers at a mid-table PP, but when was the last time the Oilers PP had this much potential?

3/15/2006 9:41 pm  
Blogger Dennis said...

Just thought of this so I figured I'd drop it in here...when's the last time the Oilers used a forward on their PP..outside of Tikkanen I mean. I'm thinking Arnott was there during the '97 season becasue I remember Bo breaking Smyth's jaw and I think Arnott was whipping shots high from that point around that time too.

I mean going back further this was a team that hauled Craig Redmond out of mothballs to play the point.

3/15/2006 10:11 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...


Weight always played the right point on the second unit when Lowe was coach, maybe even Lowe before that for a year. Right halfboards on the first unit.

Which seems kind of ass backwards to me, usually the forward is just out there for the first unit, because almost nobody's second unit is any hell anyways.

And that's just by memory too, may be wrong.

3/15/2006 10:22 pm  
Blogger Dennis said...

Yeah could be Vic...I thought he might but it wasn't in a prominent enough of a role for me to clearly rememeber so that would lend credence to the 2nd unit theory.

And of course I mentioned the other day that Dowd played the point on the 2nd unit....I remember because he was a right-handed shot.

So what point was I making again? Oh yeah that mushrooms really might leave spots on your brain;)

3/15/2006 11:10 pm  

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