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The Senators' Penalty Problem

Penalties have been the subject of great discussion in Ottawa: everyone knows that the the Ottawa Senators have had a great penalty kill so far this year, but a terrible powerplay. Yet a figure that hasn't been brought up by many outlets right now is that the Senators are currently 2nd in the league in penalty minutes per game. Ottawa has taken an average of 18.5 minutes per game, second to only Carolina with 19.2. Now, the stat is definitely skewed by the whopping 41 penalty minutes taken in the big win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, but even without that game, the Senators would be among the top tier of teams in penalty minutes per game

The Sens have been shorthanded 35 times in 8 games, yet have only had 32 power play opportunities. Being in the minus for powerplays for/against is unacceptable, and anyone who has watched the games can see that the Senators are playing undisciplined hockey. Many of the penalties are completely unnecessary, and sometimes they have cost us games (like Matt Carkner in overtime last night). Sure, there are a lot of bad calls being made, but bad calls are made against every team. The Senators need to be drawing at least as many, but hopefully more, penalties than they are taking. In fact, they should try to stay away from special teams entirely considering how bad their powerplay is at this time. The team needs to be at even strength to spread the ice-time around, and to get into a flow. The jarring starts and stops of frequent penalties hurt the team's performance.

One last interesting stat: Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza are both penalty-free through 8 games, despite being among the team leaders in ice-time and points. Guess you can't blame them for the penalty woes.