Perhaps the greatest American (or other) writer of all time Samuel Clemens once said “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” and surely he had it right. One need do no more than watch any NHL game with any combination of teams and you’ll see it played out over and over again. By the third and most foul type of prevarications rampage across the game summary each and every night. According to the way things are tallied right now, a penalty kill that last three seconds has equal weight as one that last five, likewise a penalty kill wiped out by the other team taking a penalty kill is statistically the same as going two, four or five minutes a man or two down.
While the powers that be have done nothing, and color commentators have lamented it, it has remained for years. Intermission analysts bemoan it with hand-wringing and woeful expressions. Yet none of these guys have come up with a useful way of measuring, and simply expressing one of the most telling numbers about a team.
Time being key to all things on the ice:
- Percentage of penalty kill time killed by expiration. This would be the percentage of time of the actual time shorthanded, if the time shorthanded is only 10 seconds, and a goal is surrendered two seconds into the penalty, the team has killed 20% of the penalty time.
- Percentage of penalties in which a goal is scored. This would be slightly different but related stat. To cover major penalties in which multiple goals are scored, one goal would be listed as 100% scoring 2 as 200% and so on.
Of the two the first is the more important for the casual fan, and quick analysis. There’s also no reason that with the wonders of modern computing, available for a mere decade or so, that you couldn’t drill down to various penalty kill types. One more penalty kill statistic I do believe is vital is:
- Percentage of penalties ended by officiating. This would be all penalty kills ended either by a penalty be assessed to the other team or the end of the game.
Employing these metrics in place of the current model has the potential to assist players, coaches, media, fantasy sports enthusiasts and vanilla fans across the hockey world.