Todd McLellan: "Winning two faceoffs on the power-play virtually guarantees you won't get scored on."

VANCOUVER, CANADA - MAY 18: Ben Eager #55 of the San Jose Sharks goes to the penalty box after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for standing over goaltender Roberto Luongo #1 of the Vancouver Canucks (not in photo) and taunting him in the third period in Game Two of the Western Conference Finals during the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Arena on May 18, 2011 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.The Canucks defeated the Sharks 7-3. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Todd McLellan defended his team's PK performance before Monday night's game against the Kings, noting that the Sharks had "done a lot of analysis" and that winning 2 or 3 faceoffs virtually guaranteed that you wouldn't get scored on on the penalty-kill.

Let's see how this works from first principles - I noted earlier that winning 100 additional faceoffs on the power-play was worth +3.66 goals, or 0.0366 goals per faceoff. Let's look instead at the 120 seconds following faceoffs to start a penalty-kill:

Faceoffs Goals Vs Goals For PP% SH%
Lose 35466 7609 860 21.5 2.4
Win 29347 5273 756 18.0 2.6

If I go to two decimal places, the difference between winning and losing that initial faceoff is +3.64 goals (per 100 faceoffs) by this method. So the two analyses agree as we would expect them to given the massive sample size.

Now, what about the case of two faceoff wins on a penalty-kill? It's important to remember how a power-play operates. On average, a team gets one shot per minute on the PP, and if there's a second faceoff during a PP, that means that the PK team saved a shot already, so on average it should only see one more shot over the remainder of the man-advantage. Here's how the numbers work out:

PP% 1 FO Lose 2nd Win 2nd
Lose First 21.5 12.1 3.1
Win First 18.0 12.3 3.3

Given that a second PK faceoff generally takes place after the penalized team stops a shot, it's no surprise that the initial faceoff has no impact on what happens after the 2nd faceoff. And, as you can see, once you win that second faceoff, it's virtually guaranteed that you won't get scored on over the course of the entire two minutes because you've now dumped the puck down the ice twice and stopped the attacking team's shot after allowing them to gain the offensive zone and get into position.

So what McLellan says is true, but it's also a tough thing to execute - even if you had the best faceoff taker and the best goaltender in the league, you wouldn't even be twice as likely to have one of these two-and-done PKs as an average team - which is to say, not very likely.

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