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Obstruction, the Power Play, and Lack of Scoring…

… are the players better or are the whistles being drowned?

There have been many articles written about this and I thought I’d try to tie some of that to also look at our own track record with the power play opportunities (PPO). In a previous thread called Top Player Accountability, I hinted of whether or not the system was broken and there were comments that lead to a broken power play (PP) unit to it’s simply been broken, the whole team that is. This article will focus mostly about the power play and any trend we can discover from it. I don’t know if the system is broken or not, but I’m trying to find our own trend in little spurts in hopes of eventually coming up with a more empirical and in-depth assessment as opposed to saying, “it’s just broken because we suck,” even though it may end up being that.

First, let’s look at the PPO since the lockout to the present. (Thank you ESPN.com for providing the information and the convenience to have the information in Excel form to derive other stats I want to develop.)

Power Play Opportunities (PPO) from 2005 – 2011 seasons

Team

05/06

06/07

07/08

08/09

09/10

10/11

11/12

Differential

(11/12 – 05/06)

NHL

14,390

11,935

10,551

10,225

9,137

8,715

8,132

– 6,258

NHL Avg

479.6

397.8

351.7

340

304.6

290.5

271.1

– 208.5

Ana Avg

480

400

361

309

300

285

271

– 209

I know this stat doesn’t not reveal how many obstruction calls were made (I’ve looked online for those stats alone, but unless I want to look at every individual game and denoted the infraction, I could not find a site online straight away) yet it does track how many calls were made throughout the years. In theory, the calls made between seasons should relatively be similar. Some years would have higher and other years would be less, but the statistic should be within 5% of the average (that’s an arbitrary percentage I will be using). The NHL Avg. mean for the past seven years is 348 PPO. With the PPO mean at 348, the 5% difference in calls made or not made would be around 17 opportunities. Then compare that to 2011-12 season’s stat of 271.1 and we have approximately a 22.1% deviation from the mean of 348 PPO, or a difference of about 77 calls not being made per team. Also note the penalties being called have been in decline since the lockout. As denoted by the table, there are, on average, 208 less calls being made now than when the league returned from the lockout for each team.

This may come as a shocker, but the 2003-04 season had more PPO than four seasons of the post lockout era. NHL PPO: 10,425. NHL PPO Average: 437.5. NHL PPG: 1717. NHL PPG Average: 57.2. Thus, the league is operating worse than before the lockout era of clutch and grab. Conversely, the players in the league now are better at avoiding penalties altogether. Though, that seems unlikely as I tend to stand up in amazement when calls aren’t called when watching NHL games, more Duck games than any other team. I am not an official, but when you watch consistently based upon the early years of post lockout era one becomes attuned as to what calls should be made. And the more the officials let players get away with, the more the players are willing to repeat the non-call infraction(s).

With thought of pushing the obstruction calls out of the lockout gate, the games would be faster paced and would increase scoring. The speedy players, usually shorter in height, have a chance to score by blowing past opponents or create a power play opportunity. Power play opportunities have dropped significantly, and from my viewing perspective the obstruction calls have also been reduced. Aside from the blatant obstruction calls, tactical obstructions by the defense have not been called as often. The Ducks like having small, speedy players and I have witnessed their effectiveness being negated by obstruction infractions not being whistled. That could also be a reason why the Ducks signed big gritty type players such as Winnik (6’2”), Allen (6’5”), and Souray (6’4”) along with drafting 6’2”, 194 lbs Lindholm over 6 foot, 183 lbs Dumba.

Let’s look at the Ducks’ scoring power play goals and compare that with the NHL. Here we can detect any trend and how good or bad the Ducks have been over the years.

Power Play Goals (PPG) from 2005 – 2011 seasons

Team

Stat

05/06

06/07

07/08

08/09

09/10

10/11

11/12

NHL

PPG

2,545

2,099

1,871

1,938

1,665

1,571

1,408

NHL Avg

PPGA

84.8

69.9

62.3

64.6

55.5

52.3

46.9

Ana Avg

PPG

87

89

60

73

63

67

45

Ana Eff

PPGE%

18.1

23.3

16.6

23.6

21.0

23.5

16.6

Ana

Rank

15

3

20

5

5

3

21

Ana

Playoffs

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

No

There is a direct relationship with PPO and PPG as when the PPO decline that PPG would also decline. In seven years, the NHL average on scoring PPG has dropped 44.7%. That is about 38 PPG not being scored. As for the Ducks’ relationship of power play efficiency to a playoff participant, there doesn’t seem like a pattern exists. Scotty and Prongs were here together between 2006-07 to 2008-09. During the 2007-08 season, the efficiency was similar to last year’s efficiency of 16.6, but they didn’t make it into the playoffs last year. Granted, there were much less opportunities on the power player last year compared to the 2007-08 season; 38 less opportunities. Then there is the 2009-10 season where the PP was ranked 5th overall with a 21.0% efficiency rate, but failed to make the playoffs.

2010-11 season was the new Ducks’ era of playing without Pronger and Scott Niedermayer. That season produced the second highest PP efficiency. The power play unit mostly consisted of forwards Getzlaf, Perry, Selanne, Ryan, and Koivu with defensemen Visnovsky and Fowler. The following season with the power play unit utilizing the same players the power play efficiency took a massive drop. But as you see from the table above, PPG from 2005 – 2011 seasons, something similar to this occurred between 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons except the team made the playoffs both years.

Maybe the 2007-08 Ducks team scored more at even strength to propel them to the playoffs that last year’s team was unable to do? So let’s draw up another table:

Even Strength (ES) Goals from 2005 – 2011 seasons

Team

05/06

06/07

07/08

08/09

09/10

10/11

11/12

Differential

(11/12 – 05/06)

NHL

4898

4983

4820

5068

5138

5150

5137

+ 239

NHL Avg

163.3

166.2

160.7

168.9

171.3

171.7

171.3

+ 8.0

Ana

164

165

137

165

170

168

156

– 8

At even strength, last year’s Ducks scored more than the 2007-08 team that made the playoffs. The 2011-12 team scored four more goals total than the 2007-08 team by four goals. That 2007-08 team finished fourth overall in the Western Conference.

Looking at that Even Strength table, the global outlook is that the scoring hasn’t changed much. The mean of ES scoring for the past seven years is 167.6 ES goals. The peak is 171.3 ES goals. The difference percentage between the peak and mean of ES goals is 2.2%. Although ES scoring is rising as a whole, the rise isn’t as significant as the decline of PPO: 2.2% inclination vs 22.1 % decline, respectively. PPO matter, especially in respect to comparing the Ducks playoff team of 2007-08 to the non-playoff team 2011-12 where they both share the same efficiency, but the playoff team had 15 more PPG with 39 more PPO.

Obviously last year’s team had more wrong with it than its offense, but with the trend of having less calls would seem to hamper our talented, speedy players whether be in at ES or on the power play as with all other small, speedy players in the NHL. And it seems the NHL aims to having less calls made with each and every passing year. With the shootout being implemented, there has been a greater interest in it because players are trying to score. Fans like scoring. On the whole, the NHL is reverting back to the clutch and grab era.

Goals from 2005 – 2011 seasons; 2003 – 04

Team

05/06

06/07

07/08

08/09

09/10

10/11

11/12

03/04

Pre-lockout

NHL

7443

7082

6691

7006

6803

6721

6545

6318

NHL Avg

248.1

236.1

223.0

233.5

226.8

224.0

218.2

210.6

Ana

251

254

197

238

233

235

201

184

As for our Ducks’ team last year, apparently there are more things wrong besides the power play when compared to our own recent history. Our defense could not absorb such a terrible output offensively as the 2007-08 team did when they finished fourth overall in the conference. Then compile the trend of less power play opportunities to this team’s performance, it may seem like it could get worse considering we have danglers like Teemu and Ryan and cyclists like Getzlaf and Perry where an obstruction could prevent scoring chance at both even strength and power play opportunities.

Hence, big and gritty here we come! Add in a bull-in-a-China shop DSP and a two-way play of Holland may return the Ducks to their smashing ways of recent yore where we helped in increasing power play opportunities for other teams when we play them. Ahhhh… one can wish.

This article is user-generated. It does not necessarily reflect the views of Anaheim Calling. Please do not link this article as representative of Anaheim Calling content or viewpoints . . . unless it's <em>really</em> really good.

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