Twitter’s @TravisHeHateMe tweeted out an interesting quote from Paul MacLean today, talking about the Senators problems with penalties. The Sens are the most frequently shorthanded team in the NHL, a problem that is not new. MacLean had this to say:
We’ve chronicled it a number of times before that we have a young defence that we felt was better prepared than they actually were. We lead the league in turnovers and as a result we lead the league in penalties taken, which puts pressure on our defensive game, puts pressure on our goaltending and those are things that are hard to defend when you turn over the puck on the wrong side of it.
As it so happens, I have the penalty data handy for this season up through about game 970. I think of penalties as falling into four classes: a) penalties where you’re defending, b) penalties of aggression, c) goofy things that get you penalized and d) sideshow penalties. Here’s how the Sens break down.
While MacLean’s right about the Sens having a lot more penalties due to defending than their opponents, I’m not sure how tied to turnovers that necessarily is. The reason for the big gap is that the Sens have taken way more holding penalties than the opposition. It surprises me that the interference, hooking, tripping, holding the stick penalties are basically a wash. In particular, if the Sens turnover problems relative to the opposition were driving this, I’d expect it to show up in the hooking penalties.
If you roll your eyes over to the aggression penalties, you can see that the Sens have a real problem there. Percentage wise, it’s bigger than their problem with defending type penalties. You name it, the Sens seem to do it more than the other team.
Turnovers are going to happen. They’re maybe a bigger problem with a younger team. The problem with penalties of aggression is that they’re basically penalties for lack of discipline and that, ultimately, reflects on the coaching staff, whether in not correcting the player’s habits or, if that doesn’t work, preventing him from hurting the team by limiting his ice time.Email Tyler Dellow at firstname.lastname@example.org