If you had to guess, what would you say was the best PP unit of all-time? Surprisingly, it's the New York Islanders - before they rattled off their string of four Stanley Cups. With Bryan Trottier, Mike Bossy and Clark Gillies up front, and Denis Potvin and Stefan Persson on the blue line, the Isles put away nearly 30% of their power-play opportunities over a six-year period:
|1975-76||New York Islanders||31.72|
|1977-78||New York Islanders||31.28|
|1978-79||New York Islanders||31.15|
|1973-74||New York Rangers||29.73|
|1980-81||New York Islanders||29.34|
The Orr-Esposito-Bucyk Bruins of 1969-75 were almost as good as the Isles. The late 1970s Canadiens dynasty makes a couple of appearances - unlike the Islanders and the Bruins, the Habs rolled two power-play units. Stanley Cup-winning Oilers, Flyers and Flames squads also show up.
What if we adjust teams relative to the league-wide PP%?
|1973-74||New York Rangers||29.73||55.74|
|1975-76||New York Islanders||31.72||54.43|
|1977-78||New York Islanders||31.28||47.90|
Interestingly, our top teams don't move around very much - what these teams have in common is that they all played during an era of massive talent dilution and little player movement. Montreal, Boston, New York and Philadelphia were all able to concentrate talent in a way that would be unthinkable today and use that advantage to dominate the weakest entries in the NHL. While you can put together a truly bad team any time you want, it is simply no longer possible to build teams that are this much better than their opponents.