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Sabres Game 19 Recap: Penalties are costly November 20, 2015

Posted by tomflesher in Economics, Hockey, Sports.
Tags: , , , ,
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Despite a solid performance by rookie goaltender Linus Ullmark, the Sabres dropped a shootout loss to the St. Louis Blues last night. Going into the shootout, the teams had played 65 minutes of 2-2 hockey. Sam Reinhart and Ryan O’Reilly scored at even strength for the Sabres; both Blues goals, by Kevin Shattenkirk and Vladimir Tarasenko, came on the power play. Those power plays were costly; Tyler Ennis was penalized 5 minutes for boarding at 5:00 into the first, and Shattenkirk’s goal followed 34 seconds later. In the third period, Jake McCabe was called for hooking 3:24 in, and Tarasenko’s goal came at 4:26. Alex Steen scored the only shootout goal for Saint Louis; O’Reilly, Ennis, and Evander Kane shot and missed for Buffalo. Meanwhile, the Blues’ penalties came in bunches, and the Sabres were woefully unable to take advantage of brief 2-man-advantage conditions in periods 2 and 3.

The Sabres aren’t a bad team on the power play – against a league average of 19.21% of power plays converted, the Sabres convert 22.58% of opportunities into goals. They’re much, much worse defensively, though: the league average penalty kill percentage is 80.79%1, but the Sabres kill only 72.92% of penalties. Buffalo has a miserable 96 power play PDO, which is an awful name for a great stat. In general, save% plus shooting% should average out to about 100, or so goes the theory; teams with lower scores are unluckier, and teams with higher scores are luckier. 96 in power play situations puts then 27th in the league. While shorthanded, they have an abysmal 92.3 PDO, 23rd in the league.

Some of that is mitigated by the Sabres’ low (thus far) penalty numbers – the average team has allowed 62 power play opportunities and the Sabres have allowed only 48 – but the Sabres have allowed 13 goals in those 48 opportunities while the league average is 12 goals on 62 opportunities. Just imagine if the Sabres were chippier and allowed more power plays.

The Sabres have fixed some of their early-season issues with shots, outshooting the Blues 34-29, and Ullmark (minion mask and all) managed to lower his goals against average to 2.31. He’s been remarkably consistent. He can’t, though, carry the team on his back. As a developing rookie, he needs his skaters to take advantage of those 2-man advantage situations. The Sabres had 2:35 of two-man advantage and couldn’t convert. A single goal would have put a second point on the board for the Sabres and another win in Ullmark’s record.

1 Obviously, the league average PP% and PK% have to add up to 100%.

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