[Part 4 of 4]
Let’s start with the powerplay. These forwards have played 10 or more minutes with the man advantage in 2008-09:
Once again Shawn Horcoff leads the way in ice time as well as gross scoring chances. Those of us who screamed for Dustin Penner’s inclusion on the first unit can point to his team-leading rate of PP SC/60 as well as his team-leading +6.70/60 with the man advantage. Of the second-unit guys, Marc Pouliot has an excellent rate of scoring chances while giving up nothing the other way, for the best net ranking on the club. The other second-unit guys — Gagner, Cole, Cogliano, Nilsson — all have both a lower rate of chances generated and a much higher rate of shorthanded chances allowed. Of note is the flat rate of Robbie Schremp: 2 chances for, 2 against in 11 minutes. Not too impressive until you consider both of those chances For went in the net.
Looking at the segment of game since Dec 5:
Most of the same trends are apparent here. Hemsky’s performance in relatively few games is particularly solid. Penner has moved up the depth chart and performed well. Pouliot, who ranks third on the team behind just Penner and Hemsky at +6.15/60, really made the most of his half hour over this portion of the schedule, and has by far the best results of any second unit forward, especially on the defensive side of the puck.
Turning finally to the PK, here are season-to-date results:
No surprise to see Shawn Horcoff leading the way in ice time. All of the guys who have gotten more than 20 minutes of ice time have similar numbers of SCA, between 35 and 42. However, Erik Cole’s name jumps off the list because of the large number of opportunities he has created in the good end. Cole hasn’t yet produced any shorthanded goals for his efforts, but he has been successful at distracting the other guys from scoring. He has been on the ice for just 1 PPGA all season according to BehindtheNet, and his rate of -1.26/60 leads the team by far. Of the other guys on this list, Marc Pouliot is second at -5.56 in very limited ice, suggesting that he might deserve a shot at a little more action on the PK. The rest range from -6.89 (Cogliano) and down.
PK results since Dec. 5:
The PK unit as a whole has cut down on net scoring opportunities allowed; Cole’s seeming ability to drive the play in the good direction has been very apparent in recent games, and shows up here. Andrew Cogliano has also picked it up in an increased role which should make Dennis happy. The bottom guys on the list all show improved results even as their ice time has been cut way back. Meanwhile, Ethan Moreau continues to be a top four PK guy, despite the fact that he is doing a brutal job, bleeding scoring opps and goals against. The captain ranks 94th among 96 NHL forwards with 20+ GP and 2:00+ SH TOI per game with a horrible rating of -11.02/60, and judging by this scoring chance data he’s full value for it.
The best news is the improving relationship between the PP and PK. During the first interval the PP was generating a net rate of +23.3 scoring opps per hour, while the PK was bleeding them at the rate of -34.7, fully 50% more. In the second segment that turned around almost completely, to +34.6 on the PP and -31.6 on the PK. The differential on the season is still negative but the gap is closing. And on the scoreboard, the PK, a disaster through the end of 2008, has killed 34 of 39 this month, while the PP has clicked on 6 of 41 opportunities. This saw-off on special teams has allowed the team’s strong play at EV to carry the day, resulting in a 7-3-0 record so far in 2009.