The Importance of Special Teams in Ice Hockey


  • Rasmus Säfvenberg Linköping University, Sweden
  • Mikael Svarén Dalarna University, Sweden
  • Niklas Carlsson Linköping University, Sweden
  • Patrick Lambrix Linköping University, Sweden



This paper explores the significance of special teams, particularly powerplay, in ice hockey. Despite the commonly held perception of their importance, little research has examined the impact of powerplay and penalty kill performance on overall team success. The paper uses several seasons of NHL data to characterize goal-scoring and manpower opportunities, and perform analysis from several perspectives. The results indicate that individual even strength goals and powerplay goals have similar value, but the larger share of even strength goals scored over a season makes even strength play a more important contributor to team success. The paper also finds a high correlation between teams that perform above/below average during even strength and powerplay. This study provides insights into the dynamics of ice hockey gameplay and the role of special teams in determining team success.