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October: Who drew penalties and who took them

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If you check your standard NHL boxscore you can easily find out which players took penalties. Total PIM is a stat that you easily find on many websites. However, information on who drew the penalty is simply not recorded for the most part. A few years ago the expanded boxscores began listing this information but it is very incomplete. Some games have no penalty drawn information and some boxscores have it for certain penalties but not for others.

So this season, with the aid of my handy new DVR I dedicated myself to keeping this particular statistic for the Thrashers. With the exception of 5 penalties from the 2nd game of the year versus Florida (which was not televised locally and I forgot to record the CenterIce feed) I have gone through and carefully watched every single penalty where the penalty drawn data was missing from the boxscores. One thing I should note is that I only counted penalty minutes that gave one team a man advantage--i.e. off setting penalty situations are ignored.

The October totals are now complete so I thought this would be a good time to post them. Looking at both penalties drawn and taken can give you a different perspective. For example, both Slater and Mellanby have taken a lot of penalties in October, but Slater has drawn nearly as many minutes as he has taken. On the other hand, Mellanby's -10 minutes means that he has put the opposition on the power play 5 times more often than he has put his own team on the power play.

The team leaders in net positive minutes where Hossa (no surprise) and Rucchin (excuse me!) who each drew a net +10 minutes. The Rucchin numbers come as a big surprise to me as I simply don't remember him drawing that many--it goes to show you why it is valuable to actually count something like this. Sim is another guy who surprised me a bit seeing him this high on the list. He's not a checking line agitator but he has drawn 16 man advantage minutes for far this year--as many as Hossa. The other Thrasher with significant plus rating was Slava Kozlov which is not surprising as he is a slippery skilled guy who draws attention from the other team and he rarely takes a penalty. I was a bit surprised to find that Kovalchuk wasn't higher on the list, but he just hasn't drawn all that many man advantage minutes so far. I would expect that he will rise as the season progresses.

HOSSA 16 6 10
RUCCHIN 14 4 10
SIM 16 10 6
KOZLOV 9 4 5
DE VRIES 6 4 2
VIGIER 4 4 0
LARSEN 2 4 -2
SLATER 15 18 -3
HOLIK 12 18 -6
HNIDY 0 6 -6
SUTTON 2 8 -6
HAVELID 4 14 -10
MELLANBY 0 10 -10
EXELBY 2 16 -14
BENCH 12 4 +8

Which players are putting their team at a disadvantage? Well Exelby heads the list with a -14 net minutes which is hardly surprising given his on the edge hitting style. Since he is rarely involved with the offensive play he doesn't drawn many penalties either. In fact, defensemen take four of the five bottom spots in terms of having negative numbers--which is probably a function of the defense position. There are times where it makes sense to take a penalty to prevent a scoring chance and defensemen are going to face that situation more often. And then of course it is hard for a defensemen to draw a penalty in their own zone since the offensive team's players are usually more focused on making plays with the puck.

Holik has taken a boatload of penalties so far, but like Slater he has been able to off set those by drawing a surprising amount of man advantage minutes for his squad.

Well it will be interesting to see how this list changes as I track this numbers over the course of the season.

(note: some readers may observe that Slater and Kozlov each have an odd number in the penalties drawn. This is from a game versus Florida where their goalie covered the puck outside the crease and was given a delay-of-game penalty. I watched the replay several times and it seemed to me that Slater and Kozlov where equally close to the Florida goalie so I choose to split credit between them and give each of them 1 minute drawn.)