Measuring Performance Against the Power Play: Beyond PK%

January 9th, 2010 by Jonathan Weiss Leave a reply »
The conventional measurement of NHL team performance in short-handed situations is the Penalty Kill Percentage (PK%): how often the team’s penalty killers do their job and prevent the other team from scoring on the power play. 

While PK% is the time honored NHL statistic, does it really provide the best measure of how well a team does in preventing power-play goals?  I say not.

First and most obviously, the PK% statistic does not take short-handed goals into consideration. Clearly, if the penalty killers score a goal, that totally offsets what the opponent’s power play is trying to accomplish, not to mention the huge psychological boost it provides.

There are significant differences among NHL teams in short-handed goal scoring. In the first half of this season, nine teams have scored 5 or more times, while six have 1 or none. This performance spread clearly reflects on the quality of the penalty-killing units, but it's ignored in calculating the PK%.  

Unfortunately, the PK% only considers how frequently the opponent fails to score on the power ...

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