“I would think that He would want to limit my power.”*

In his always-interesting blog at Canucks Corner, Tom Benjamin** wonders why power-play efficiency is down in the NHL in the first two weeks. My first guess, without having examined the numbers, was along the lines of what Jes Golbez noted in the comments: The penalty-box parade means lots of overlapping penalties means the occasional 0-for-2 that’s only about 30 combined seconds.

Just out of curiosity, and even though power-play percentage isn’t down for Bridgeport or for its opponents from last year, and since I’m not sleeping anytime soon anyway***, I ran the time numbers for the first four games for Bridgeport. (Caution: lotsa numbers ahead)

This chart summarizes the first four games and 40 power plays for both Bridgeport and its opponents, this year and last year. All figures indicate the number of seconds of power-play time played per goal scored at that advantage; the exception is where, for instance, an italicized “0/186” appears; that means the team did not score at that manpower in the given number of seconds.

Both the Sound Tigers and their opponents have 40 power plays so far in 2005-06. Coincidentally, opponents had 41 power plays through four games in 2004-05, but the 41st was of the no-time, coincidental-minors variety, so it’s easily discounted. Bridgeport had only 29 power plays through four games in 2004-05, so it has two columns for that season.

BPT 0506 BPT 0405 (40 opp) BPT 0405 (4GP) Opp 0506 Opp 0405
PP overall 502 636.2 538.25 284.17 508.86
PP 4-on-3 83.5 0/59 0/59 110 0/186
PP 5-on-3 383 0/78 0/78 60.67 106.5
PP 5-on-4 741 608.8 504 389.75 632.6

(To illustrate, Bridgeport is 2-for-3 on four-on-threes this year, scoring once in 12 seconds, again in 35 seconds, and failing on a two-minute (120-second) advantage. That’s two goals in 167 seconds, or one every 83.5, which is where that number comes from in the chart.)

So Bridgeport this year has scored one power-play goal every 502 seconds of advantage time, compared to once every 538.25 seconds in the first four games last year and once every 636.2 seconds through 40 advantages last year.

What’s it mean? Goodness, in four games? Nothing. At least, not much yet, particularly not in context of the league as a whole, and certainly not in the context of the respective teams. This year’s Papineau-Colley-Bergenheim-Collins-Gervais unit is something to behold when it’s going, for instance.

Think of this as pure curiosity. But at least in these four particular games, power-play goals have come quicker overall than they did last year in a similar (tiny) sample, and more time at odd manpowers appears to have helped that.

**-In fuller disclosure than might be necessary, Mr. Benjamin and I worked together — recruited by old buddy Carole Sussman, who had been roped in earlier — on an abortive internet hockey publication almost a decade ago. I’d wager he’s still waiting to be paid his nickel, too.
***-Fill in the punchline: What’s the best cure for insomnia? (“Read your own stuff, Fornabaio” is not eligible.)

Michael Fornabaio