Originally posted on The 6th Sens  |  Last updated 11/15/12
Being on the power-play is a big advantage, since teams can create scoring chances at a much higher rate than at even-strength. Even if they team doesn't score, their opponents rarely ever get a goal, or even a scoring chance. Therefore, spending more time on the power-play, and less time on the penalty kill is something teams should aim for. Last season the Ottawa Senators were short-handed 310 times, good enough for 3rd worst in the league. This wouldn't have been a problem if a) their penalty kill hadn't of sucked and b) if they had drawn more than just 270 penalties. So when it comes to drawing and taking penalties, how do they compare to the rest of the league?     Team PPOpp TS Diff FLA 286 239 47 SJS 270 225 45 CHI 277 233 44 CBJ 317 274 43 CAR 294 252 42 TOR 267 242 25 DET 298 274 24 NYR 280 260 20 PIT 289 270 19 PHI 335 319 16 NJD 267 259 8 NYI 243 236 7 NSH 250 244 6 PHX 251 249 2 VAN 288 286 2 BUF 258 257 1 LAK 289 293 -4 CGY 260 268 -8 BOS 250 260 -10 ANA 271 283 -12 STL 270 282 -12 MTL 301 315 -14 TBL 269 284 -15 WSH 245 266 -21 MIN 258 285 -27 EDM 262 296 -34 OTT 270 310 -40 WPG 251 292 -41 COL 223 277 -54 DAL 244 303 -59 Considering that the Sens were a good possession team, I didn’t expect them to be 4th last in the league in this category. In 2011-12, they finished 16th overall in the league, and with the possibility of their offense regressing, they need to improve in a few categories. This is one of them. So who was taking all those penalties last season? There are two ways I’m going to evaluate players on their penalty taking/drawing skills: Penalty Rate Differential (PRD): For this stat, I’ll subtract a player’s Penalties Taken/60 from their Penalties Drawn/60. This will tell us how many more penalties a player draws than takes per 60 minutes. The purpose of this stat is to tell us a player’s penalty drawing/taking skills. For example, if a player draws 1.6 penalties and takes 1.1 penalties per 60 minutes of ice-time, he will have a PRD of 0.5 (1.6-1.1=0.5). A PRD of 0.5 indicates that a player is efficient when it comes to penalties, because he draws a fair amount more than he takes. Penalty Plus/Minus (P+/-): This is like regular plus/minus, except it uses penalties taken and drawn, instead of goals for and against. This stat tells us how many more penalties a player drew than he took. The purpose of this stat is to show how much of an impact a player’s penalty drawing/taking skills has on his team. For example, if a player draws 8 more penalties than he takes, he will have a penalty +/- of +8. A penalty plus/minus of +8 tells us that he gave his team 8 extra PP opportunities. I only used data from 5-on-5 situations because players tend to take more penalties while on the PK, and in effect, draw more while on the PP. All stats are from Behind The Net. Now let’s look at the Senators regulars from last season:   PT/60 PD/60 PRD P+/- SMITH 1.1 1.5 0.4 6 ALFREDSSON 0.4 0.6 0.2 4 DAUGAVINS 0.5 0.8 0.3 3 PHILLIPS 0.3 0.4 0.1 2 MICHALEK 0.5 0.6 0.1 2 WINCHESTER 0.7 1.1 0.4 2 BUTLER 0.6 0.7 0.1 1 FOLIGNO 1.4 1.4 0 0 O'BRIEN 0.2 0.2 0 0 CONDRA 0.7 0.6 -0.1 -2 GREENING 0.6 0.5 -0.1 -2 TURRIS 0.7 0.5 -0.2 -3 KARLSSON 0.6 0.5 -0.1 -3 SPEZZA 0.8 0.6 -0.2 -4 CARKNER 1.3 0.2 -1.1 -6 COWEN 0.6 0.3 -0.3 -6 KUBA 0.5 0.1 -0.4 -8 KONOPKA 2.7 1 -1.7 -11 NEIL 2 1 -1 -13 GONCHAR 0.9 0.1 -0.8 -16 -Gonchar had the worst impact on the team, with a penalty +/- of -16 -Other than Phillips, all of the Sens defenseman had a negative P+/-. I don’t find this surprising since defenseman don’t often carry the puck, or get good scoring chances, therefore making it hard for them to draw penalties -With the best P +/- on the team at +6, Zack Smith did a good job of being an agitator. If Smith can continue to draw a lot of penalties and score 12 or 13 goals a season, he could have a nice career as a physical 3rd liner -Foligno took a lot of dumb penalties last season, but that didn’t matter because he drew as many as he took -I didn’t include Gilroy or Lee because I don’t have their numbers from just their time in Ottawa. But they both finished the season with a negative “penalty plus/minus”, with Lee being the worst of the two at -12. So how about the new guys they added?   Year PT/60 PD/60 PRD P+/- LATENDRESSE 09-10 0.4 0.8 0.4 7 REGIN 10-11 0.5 1 0.5 5 LUNDIN 10-11 0.3 0.3 0 0 METHOT 11-12 0.9 0.1 -0.8 -10 -Regin and Latendresse both had high PRD’s in each of their last seasons. If Regin replaces Konopka’s minutes, and Latendresse replaces Foligno’s, the Sens should receive some CAPITAL GAINS in the “penalty department” -If Lundin is healthy and replaces the minutes of Carkner/Lee/Gilroy as the team’s 6th defenseman, the Sens should once again become a much more disciplined team -Marc Methot had a brutal PRD of -0.8 last year, but his PRD was only -0.4 in 2010-11, and -0.3 in 2008-09 and 2009-10. I’d say that his -0.8 PRD isn’t something we’ll see too much of in the future -If Methot replaces Kuba’s minutes, that probably won't hurt the team’s penalty differential too much -With the addition of a few rookies, the Sens were forced to cut ties with Winchester and Butler, who were positive P+/- players last season, but not by much -Their replacements, Mika Zibanejad and Jakob Silfverberg, seem like fairly disciplined players, as they combined for just 38 PIM in 218 career SEL games and 6 PIM in 22 AHL games (so far) Conclusion:  During the offseason, the Senators become a much more disciplined team, which is good since it was one of their weak spots. In the end, disciplinary play isn’t the deciding factor between good and bad teams, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important. In my opinion, being able to squeeze out an extra win or two (especially in a league that influences parity) from something as simple as disciplinary play, is definitely a good thing and shouldn’t be ignored.
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