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Killing Time

I'm back home and yesterday I decided to go through a bunch of numbers looking at the Thrashers PK unit. The PK unit has made some big strides as the season has progressed. In October the team was simply awful when short a man allowing a goal on almost 30% of all shorthanded situations. (Wow is that bad.)

In November the PK went from being terrible/horrible to just worst-in-the-NHL. But in December the PK unit made a step forwards killing off the opposition power plays 86% which is outstanding. They might have finished the month at 90% if not for allowing several PP goals against in the meltdown in Boston on the last day of the month.

Atlanta Thrashers PK Rate
71% October
76% November
86% December

Who is playing on the PK Unit?

As I mentioned above the team really struggled to kill off penalties back in October and made some changes in terms of who is used in that role. Brad Larsen and Jim Slater were absolutely torched and were removed from the PK unit. Their ice time was given to Hossa, Perrin, White, Dupuis and Holik. Back on defense Zhitnik and McCarthy also saw their PK ice time diminish and Enstrom was inserted into PK rotation.

Who is playing well on the PK?

First I calculated the GAA of each PK unit member for this 2007-08 season--but I think that GAA numbers are less intuitive so I created a pseudo-PK% for each player that I think is easier to grasp.

If we take a look at the forwards we can see that Marian Hossa is just insanely effective as a PK guy so far this season. That is one way Hossa helps this team that doesn't always show up in the box score.

When your two scoring stars are also two of your most effective PK guys that means they are both capable of helping at any phase of the game. On the other hand, it is also an indictment of your 3rd and 4th line guys if they can't handle PK time. The Thrashers had to turn to their scoring forwards because the 4th line guys were simply incapable of staffing the PK unit.

Thrashers PK Forwards
91% Hossa
84% White
83% Kovalchuk
83% Holik
76% Perrin
72% Dupuis
68% Kozlov
58% Slater
53% Larsen

On the defensive side of things the Thrashers smallest and youngest player has been their most effective guy when down a man this season. When we look at the Thrashers defensemen they are all about the same except that Enstrom is significantly better and Zhitnik has been significantly worse on the PK.

Thrashers PK Defensemen
85% Enstrom
80% McCarthy
79% Klee
79% Havelid
78% Exelby
62% Zhitnik