We round out our first week of analyzing the 2013-2014 season by evaluating one of the most important predictors of success: special teams.
Special teams were an enigma last season. The power play was atrocious at home, serviceable on the road. The penalty kill was nearly perfect at home, but meh on the road. What's going to happen this season?
Mike: I believe the term everyone is going to be touting is: regress to the mean. The offensive talent is too high for the power play to be atrocious at any point and I think some of the stuff we saw last year was a result of a limited number of games. I wouldn't be shocked to see the PP unit finish middle of the pack but without the home/away disparity.
Andi: We have an insane goalie in charge of our special teams. I have no flippin' clue what's going to happen. I will say though that if there are five forwards on a power play unit again, I'm likely to rage-sob. I also really liked seeing Duchene on the PK. His speed made a huge difference, and it gave him more ice-time to get his legs into it every night.
Earl: My concerns about special teams run more along the lines of drawing more penalties that actually get called, getting the benefit of the doubt on a few against us and not tiring out everybody on the top 3 lines with lots of PP/PK time.
I trust Patrick take care of the first two, as for the last, I hope everyone trained hard this summer!
AJ: Special Teams are always an enigma unless you have elite offensive players or elite defenders. We don't really have either, so we should probably settle in somewhere in the middle portion of the league. I guess. Maybe. I have no idea.
Cheryl: I think the PK will end up around 15th in the league. That craziness that was Top of the League at home and Bottom of the League away will balance out. With the added offensive power in MacKinnon and Tanguay, as well as a more experienced Barrie, the power play will go top 10. The PP at home last season was caca. It has to improve from its basement position at 30th. Of course, special teams are a conundrum and can be good or bad for no apparent reason, so who knows.
Steve: I would definitely expect the power play to be more consistent next season. The forwards are better and older, and last season was short enough to be pure randomness. The bizarre road/home split can't possibly continue. Better or worse is tough to say.
As for the penalty kill, the only improvement i could see there is wiser player usage, so in Roy we have to trust for now. Defensively our roster is basically the same. /copout