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    SportsTravis Yost: Power-play scoring has become a predictor of team success

    Travis Yost: Power-play scoring has become a predictor of team success

    Travis Yost: Power-play scoring has become a predictor of team success

    A couple of years ago, in the midst of a surge in scoring in the National Hockey League, I argued that teams with weak offenses were falling further and further behind. For a variety of reasons, teams that have played half-baked for the last 20 or 30 years have been left behind, and in today’s environment skill and speed hockey are prized.

    A lot of attention has been paid to this area, where most of the NHL game is played. Teams that can properly fill the back of the net during the regular season, generally speaking, qualify for the playoffs these days. Teams struggling to score are usually sitting at home in April.

    Here’s another wrinkle to consider: The uniform strength score has leveled off over decades of highs. The scoring rate in the power play is not stagnant, it continues to accelerate. This season has seen significant production in man advantage: not only are teams scoring at a dizzying rate, but expected goals (a measure of both the volume of shots and the quality of those shots) are trending in the same north direction:

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    Teams are more effective at creating pressure and scoring goals when they have the man advantage these days. Part of that trend is driven by the same factors that drive scoring just as strongly: There’s more dangerous talent in the lineup and attempts to increase scoring (and undermine overall goalkeeping effectiveness). team size summary) may have had an effect.

    While the power play is a unique animal, we have certainly seen changes in material strategy and deployment over time.

    Teams are more willing to use four forwards on the five-man power play, which was considered dicey and risky a decade ago. Teams with groups of deep forwards have the luxury of fielding two quality power-play units, while high-performance teams are eager and willing to play them every minute since their first power-play unit: the Edmonton Oilers. and Connor McDavid/Leon. The tricite tandem is the best example, even a man.

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    But what’s more interesting to me is how important power play scoring is to a team’s overall success. In previous years, clubs could generally have a weaker power play, as long as they had key strengths elsewhere in the game.

    In today’s NHL, a team’s scoring ability on the power play is highly predictive of a team’s place in the standings and its likelihood of qualifying for the postseason.

    Consider the table below, which shows the Eastern and Western Conference pecking order this Monday. Teams with high-quality power plays occupy the entire top half of the standings, with the two exceptions being the Vegas Golden Knights and Seattle Kraken, two elite teams of even strength in the weak Western Conference.

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    If you have a weak power play, you are definitely surprised by the upcoming lottery draft:

    It’s easy to focus your attention on teams like Edmonton, Toronto or Tampa Bay: they’re electrifying for a man, and taking a penalty against them feels like a death sentence on most nights. But the truth is that they are the leaders of a great team who can punish opponents for lack of discipline on the ice. (To put this in more context: The league already has 24 double-digit scorers on the power play this year, led by Edmonton’s Trisaitl and New York’s Micah Zibanejad.)

    Are some teams still running power play units that score at the same rate as 10 years ago? This is a problem, an increasingly challenging problem. If you don’t have the power to attack these days, row.

    And nobody likes to row.

    Data via Natural Stat Trick, NHL.com, Evolving Hockey, Hockey Reference


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