Sunday, October 31, 2010

Special Teams Power Outage

It is no secret that the Isles lack firepower - particularly at even strength. For the first four games of the season they were able to make up for this deficiency by putting up some impressive numbers when they had a man advantage. During this stretch, they scored 6 goals in 22 chances (a 27% rate). They had Weight setting up Wisniewski's cannon at the point, along with Tavares, Parenteau, and Moulson sniping from down low.

In fact - 13 of the teams 31 total goals this season have come with the man advantage. That is, almost one-third of the team's goals have been on the power play. The last two games they were 0-12 on the PP, and they've had only 5 goals in their last 26 chances over the past 5 games (19% rate) --- a period in which the team lost 4 straight. It's no surprise that their dip in PP production coincides with their current losing streak. They still remain 8th in the league with an overall 22.4% success-rate, but it has slipped over the past week.

During this same stretch, the Isles have been merely average on the penalty kill. Last week they killed off 10 of 13 penalties, which is a less-than-impressive 77% rate. For the season, they have killed off 42 of 51 penalties and they are only 17th in the league with an overall 82.7% success rate. This is NOT good enough, and the 77% rate for the past week would actually put them 26th out of 30 teams.

Special teams play is an important aspect of the game and is one of the keys to a team's ability to succeed. But it is even more important to a team like the Isles who struggle scoring at even strength. The Isles are going to have to improve these numbers if they are going to compete for a playoff spot. Successful teams need to be closer to 85% on the kill, and somewhere between 25-30% on the power play.

Last, put this in perspective: Four of Tavares' six goals have come on the PP. Seven of Wisniewski's, Parenteau's, Weight's and Bailey's combined nine goals have some with the man advantage. That means these five guys have a total of 4 even-strength goals. These guys are not getting it done even strength and if the special teams continues to sputter... ... well, I think you know where this is going.

For the Isles its a new week, a new month, and hopefully, better results.

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