Today, John Tortorella had a question about power plays.
It’s certainly a reasonable thing to wonder. It also seems like the kind of thing that, you know, your analytics person or department could quite easily figure out. But hey, the “let those Twitter guys figure it out” approach works as well I guess.
Anyway, I took the bait, partially because I am a power play fiend and partly because I’ve become more and more interested by faceoff impact. So I figured out the numbers. It’s important to note that NHL scorekeeping can be sketchy. Each scorer may have a different definition of a faceoff win, which can lead to some problems. But at this point, it’s what we have, so let’s take a look.
I used data from the last two full seasons, 2013-2014 and 2014-2015, because I wanted situations that followed the league’s rule change to have (essentially) all power play start in the offensive zone. I also used exclusively 5v4 data to keep things clear. The sample size is around 15,000 faceoffs, which makes sense if you consider that each team gets just over three power plays per game.
3 power plays * 82 games * 30 teams * 2 seasons ~ 15,000.
So here are the results:
Overall 5v4 PP% = 18.32%
5v4 PP% when you win the first faceoff = 20.53%
5v4 PP% when you lose the first faceoff = 16.21%
So overall, there is a impact, but it’s small. You’ll score about a goal more every 20 power play opportunities if you go from losing EVERY opening power play faceoff to winning EVERY one. It’s not something that I would lose too much sleep over, although to be fair, every little thing counts.