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Power Play Specialists: Who's Hot, Who's Not?

It seems like everywhere you look in the NHL standings, there are close races as we head into the final quarter of the regular season. Four of the six divisions boast especially close dogfights for the lead, including the tightly packed Northwest which features a three-way logjam between Vancouver, Calgary, and Minnesota. When it comes to the President's Trophy for first overall, we have four teams (Buffalo, Nashville, Detroit and Anaheim) within a handful of points, and in the Eastern Conference, only eight points separate the 4th through 11th teams in the standings. With this breadth and ferocity of competition, consistency becomes essential to picking up those precious points on a night-in, night-out basis. And when it comes to offensive consistency, the requirement in today's whistle-happy NHL is having a productive power play.

So which of the NHL's "designated hitters" are banging home the goals with the man advantage, and which ones are coming up short? Let's focus our Shot Quality tool on the power play, and see which shooters are scoring more (or less) often than would be predicted based on the distance and type of shots being taken.

Shot Quality is simply a measurement representing the portion of similar shots which result in goals (for 11-20 foot wrist shots, for example, that figure is roughly 0.18). Summing up each individual shooter's total Shot Quality values gives us an Expected Goals figure, which we can compare against actual results as a measurement of how well they're executing. Let's first take a look at those shooters who are getting the job done...

Top 10 Hot Power Play Shooters
PlayerActual PP GoalsExpected PP GoalsDifference
Sheldon Souray, MTL




Chris Drury, BUF




Ilya Kovalchuk, ATL




Alexander Semin, WSH




Phillipe Boucher, DAL




Evgeni Malkin, PIT




Jason Arnott, NSH




Teemu Selanne, ANA




Darcy Tucker, TOR




Brian Rolston, MIN




We've got quite a diverse group of hot shooters here - two defensemen enjoying career years in Souray and Boucher, big-time snipers like Kovalchuk and Selanne, and sensational young talents like Semin and Malkin. They also come from a variety of teams up and down the typical power play rankings, which reflect percentage of opportunities converted. And now let's take a look at those players who are shooting, but not scoring...

Top 10 Coldest Power Play Shooters
PlayerActual PP GoalsExpected PP GoalsDifference

Jaromir Jagr, NYR




Henrik Sedin, VAN




Alexei Yashin, NYI




Brad Boyes, BOS




Mark Parrish, MIN




Matt Cullen, NYR




Corey Perry, ANA




Ryan Craig, TBL




Vaclav Prospal, TBL




Eric Lindros, DAL




The New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning might want to reshuffle their power play units, given the underperformance shown by Jagr, Cullen, Craig and Prospal. One thing to note about measurement against Shot Quality is that individual results might well be related as much to the setup work done by linemates as to whether or not the shooter is hitting his spots well. A proven star like Jagr might warrant trying out another centerman, while a younger player like Craig might see his PP time cut back. As games become increasingly important down the stretch, the last thing a coach can do is stick by his guns and simply wait for unproductive players to turn things around.

Technorati Tags: offense, power play, shot quality

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