The Toronto Maple Leafs scored three powerplay goals against the Oilers last night to break an 0 for 31 drought in that department. Even with this outburst their Powerplay Rate is a terrible 16.0%, 26th overall. Combine this number with an atrocious 72.0% Penalty Kill efficiency, and this years Leafs have some of the worst special teams of all-time.
Scotty Bowman used to say that the goal of his teams was to have PP and PK rates totalled at least 100%. Even with variance in season to season goal scoring rates, the special team rates will be on a constant of 100%. If for instance powerplays and goal scoring is at a high level (early 1980's) the corresponding penalty killing rates will always equal out to 100%. This makes comparing different eras easy as special team numbers are readily available back to 1963.
This season's Leafs have a total Special Teams number of 88.0%; below is how that number rates as one of the worst ever.
They may very well end up having the worst secial teams in almost 30 years. Lots of really brutal and mainly expansion squads on the list, headed up by the first year Washington Capitals (figures). Led by Tommy Williams and Denis Dupere, this team managed a total number of 84.2%. This was matched by the Caps three seasons later with a squad led by Guy Charron and Bob Sirois. Charron had the misfortune of being the "star" of the next worse special teams squad as well. He somehow tallied 71 points for a terrible Kansas City Scouts team in '75/'76.
The bottom three teams on the list don't even make the worst of all-time even though they each had some of the worst rates ever. Tampa Bay managed to compensate for a brutal 9.4 powerplay rate with a respectable 82.4 PK. The early '80's Kings were atrocious on the PK, but managed to balance that with top rated powerplay units.
In contrast to this chart, the greatest special teams ever are about the same distance from the 100% mark on the high side. The 1975/76 Islanders had a Special Teams number 117.1% (31.7 on the PP and 81.4 on the PK). and the 76/77 Canadiens were 112.8% (24.9 PP and 87.9 PK). Perhaps that's the next chart I'll do. I find that combining the special teams percentages is a great way to determine which teams were the worst and best overall.