Our first prediction took a look at both the power play and the penalty kill. Both units struggled mightily last season. They finished among the bottom ten teams in both areas. So there was an expectation that the two units could improve this season.
Mike Yeo and Michel Therrien were brought in during the offseason and each tasked with running the special teams units. Yeo has handled the penalty kill while Therrien is in charge of the power play.
Starting with the penalty kill, the unit has taken a step back in the right direction. While they sit just outside the top-ten, the group has posted an 81.8% rate this season. That is up from their 78.5% last season.
They have given up 13 fewer goals and have scored four more shorthanded goals. That puts their shorthanded net goals at -30. The numbers are going to be on the negative side, of course. But that is a 17 goal swing in one season. They are giving up 0.55 PP goals per game while scoring 0.12 shorthanded goals per game.
It’s no surprise the unit has succeeded with the addition of guys like Kevin Hayes and Derek Grant. The unit has been more aggressive and is taking more chances this season.
The power play has also improved this season, going from 17.1% to 20.8% this season. The team has posted seven more goals on the unit while giving up five less shorthanded goals. That is a swing of 12 goals. The unit has averaged 0.68 PP GF/GP and just 0.09 SH GA/GP.
The unit hasn’t been perfect this season. Therrien has experimented with different looks that have included Claude Giroux along the right boards instead of his usual spot on the left. And that didn’t pan out well for the most part.
But the unit is producing better, sitting at 14th in the league. They are 0.5% away from taking over a spot in the top-ten.