ELLENTHAL: Special teams winners and losers
I sin senaste SHL-krönika tittar amerikanske bloggaren Zach Ellenthal närmare på hur lagen i vår toppliga presterar i numerära över- och underlägen och hur det påverkar deras framgångar i stort.
A lot of hockey analysis focuses on 5v5 play. Metrics like corsi, expected goals, and on-ice shooting percentages typically refer to a player or team's impact at 5v5. And there's a good reason for that -- the majority of a hockey game is 5v5 action and knowing how players and teams perform at full strength is often most appealing from an analysis standpoint.
But there's also a good reason why the standings do not simply follow in order of the best 5v5 teams -- just 60 percent of the goals scored in the SHL this season have been at 5v5. Everyone knows special teams are critically important to a team's success, and can make or break a season, regardless of how strong the underlying even strength play is. So let's take a look at how SHL teams are performing on special teams this season.
A few observations:
Luleå, currently carrying a negative goal differential at even strength, has both of their special teams to thank for their third place in the league standings. On the powerplay, they've scored the second-most goals and are generating the most shots on goal on a per minute basis. On the penalty kill, they've allowed the fewest goals, have been the best team at limiting shots against, and lead the league in shorthanded goals.
It's been a nightmarish season for HV71, and that's with the second-best goal differential on special teams. They have the most productive power play in the league, and five HV71 players are top 20 in the league in points per 60 on the man advantage.
Special teams have plagued Djurgården for several years now, but they've reached a new level this season, especially on the power play. There they've scored the fewest goals in the league, four fewer than second-to-last Malmö, despite having played six more games.
What is going on with Örebro's penalty kill? They've given up 37 shorthanded goals in 37 games. No team has given up a goal per game since the start of the 17/18 season -- the closest a team has come is 19/20 Växjö, with 49. On a per minute basis, they're allowing 12.2 goals per 60 shorthanded minutes -- the highest over a full season over the same time span is 19/20 Leksand, at 10.7.
Here's how each team's goal share on special teams compares to their goal share at 5v5:
Success at 5v5, the power play, and the penalty kill takes different skill sets. Strong and sustainable 5v5 performance is still the cornerstone of a good team, but we see here where the other 40 percent of goals are either propping up or holding back teams in the standings.
Who is Zach Ellenthal?
I am a hockey fan from the United States, who after studying abroad in Sweden in 2014, fell in love with all things related to Swedish hockey. I've even been fortunate to make a couple trips back to Sweden in the last few years to travel around to different cities and games, including a seven game trip across the country right before the pandemic. I enjoy watching, reading about, and blogging about Swedish hockey, and as a quarantine project last year created a stats website called Svengelska Hockey. I've been reading hockeysverige.se content for seven years, and now look forward to contributing some of my own.