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Silver Nuggets: An early look the Senators penalty numbers

Hope that wasn't interference, Grybeard.
Hope that wasn't interference, Grybeard.
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, everyone knew that the Senators took way too many minor penalties, and over the offseason, both coach Paul MacLean and General Manager Bryan Murray spoke about how the team had to keep skating and not put themselves in a position to take penalties. After leading the league in minor penalties last year, the Senators are now ranked 20th at this early-season checkpoint, so I thought it'd be interesting to see where the change is coming from.

I went to Behind the Net and looked up the Penalties Taken/60 and the Penalties Drawn/60 statistics for both last year and this year, and then subtracted them to get a rate of change. Here's what I found:

Penalty Differential

Anything above 0 here is good - the player was drawing more penalties than he was taking, which is good for the team. Anything below 0 means that the player was taking more penalties than he was drawing, which is bad for the team. There are some obvious limitations here such as sample size, and generally, defenseman take more minor penalties than they draw, but it's still interesting to look at the early change from last year.

Erik Karlsson is the exception to the above rule, as he's consistently drawn more penalties than he's taken and has for both years listed here. The biggest year-to-year changes are Turris, Condra, Michalek, Stone, and MacArthur respectively. I'm sure this will level out eventually, but Turris, Condra, and Michalek have usually been in the positive in terms of this statistic - which makes sense as I consider all three to be good two-way players, and adds evidence to the fantastic start that Milan Michalek has had to start the year here. Now, I don't think he's worth $4M and he hasn't put up the points, but if he can continue to be a positive possession player and draw more penalties than he takes, he won't be harming the team in any way other than blocking a roster spot 1-2 years down the road. It does bode well for the play of Clarke MacArthur and Bobby Ryan, who are Turris' frequent linemates and both were in the negative last year. The Senators would love it if those three play most of their time in the offensive zone and definitely don't want them to be taking penalties far away from their own net. Mark Stone, who didn't play that much last year, is as advertised in this statistic. His hockey IQ is off the charts and he always appears to be in position despite his supposed lackluster speed. Good sign for the rookie.

Two names that aren't technically drawing more penalties but aren't taking as many penalties are Zack Smith and Chris Neil - the latter one of the biggest culprits in the league in terms of minor penalty taking. I don't know how long this will last, but I suspect the fact that Neil and Smith aren't taking penalties are a major contributor in the Senators not in the bottom-five in terms of penalty differential. Good work!

Who isn't doing all that well? The third-pair of Borowiecki - Gryba have been really struggling the past couple of games, and it shows in both the possession numbers as well as here. To their credit, the two have been getting a lot of defensive zone starts, but they cannot keep handicapping the team in this regard. Borowiecki has a bit of a reputation in the AHL for notoriously taking bad penalties, but I'd hope that Gryba's numbers revert back to last year's respectable level. The "new guy" trio of Lazar, Legwand, and Chiasson are all net negative and the latter two were last year in Detroit and Dallas respectively. I'd expect more out of Legwand and I hope that he can smarten up defensively.

There's your early look at the Senators oft-mentioned penalty troubles, and I think overall, we can be happy with their year-to-year progress. These numbers will stabilize at some point, but I'll probably check in around the 20 game mark to see if anything changes then. Let me know what you think in the comments!

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Sens Links

  • The team played two games over the weekend but lost both. They did pick up a point against New Jersey however! Here are the recaps for Saturday night's game. [Silver SevenRank the PerformancesOttawa Citizen6th SensSensChirpSenShotSenstats]
  • Here are a couple pieces on the emotional tribute that took place on Saturday. I think it was very touching and was coordinated well. [Ottawa Citizen6th Sens]
  • Here are your recaps for Sunday night's game against Chicago. [Silver Seven, Rank the PerformancesOttawa Citizen6th SensSensChirpSenShotSenstats]
  • Lastly, your recaps from last night's game against Columbus! [Silver SevenRank the PerformancesOttawa CitizenSenShotSensChirpSenstats]
  • Here's your weekly look ahead from B_T. The Senators finish their season series against the Blackhawks at home on Thursday for their annual #HockeyFightsCancer game. [Silver Seven - Week Ahead]
  • The Week 4 preview from the Bonk's Mullet gang is out! [Bonk's Mullet]
  • Wayne Scanlan has a piece on how the Senators aren't scoring many goals, and thus, are leaning heavily on their goaltenders and "keeping shots to the outside" to win games. Something has to change soon because I don't think they can keep this up. [Ottawa Citizen]
  • Nichols has a good piece on Jared Cowen's name being brought up in trade speculation and mentions that if Arizona is interested, the Sens could possibly target fellow young defenseman Brandon Gormley. Jack also has thoughts on a potential Cowen trade. [6th SensSenShot]
  • Joe from Bonk's Mullet also takes a look at the fanbase's perception towards Jared Cowen. [Bonk's Mullet]
  • From a coaching perspective, the Sens are happy with Cowen's practice habits and I've noticed that he's had a lot of one-on-one instruction with assistant coach Jason Smith. I think he plays v. the Blue Jackets tonight. [Ottawa Citizen]
  • Mrs. O had a really good primer on Adam Larsson for our Weekly Question that I'd recommend checking out. Wouldn't mind picking him up as a right-handed defenseman who has a higher ceiling than Eric Gryba. [Silver Seven - Weekly Question]
  • Jack wonders what the Senators should do with Colin Greening, who clearly seems like the odd man out so far. [SenShot]
  • A bunch of weekend thoughts on a variety of topics (Tampa, Nashville, Senators goalies, etc.) from Varada. [WTYKY]
  • Your weekly Monday prospect update from Ian. The BSens had a very eventful weekend as well. [Silver Seven]
  • Here are Jeff's recaps of the BSens games against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (PHI), and the WB Scranton Penguins (PIT). The BSens twitter feed posted highlights of their game against the Phantoms, which featured two Derek Grant goals in ~9 seconds, the first with 15 (!) seconds left, to send the game into OT. [SenShot - LehighSenShot - WBSLehigh Highlights]
  • Mike takes a look at the lighting changes at CTC in a funny way! [Bonk's Mullet]
  • NKB was on Ups and Downs duty this week. Lots of changes in grades which I mostly agree with - go take a look! [Silver Seven - Ups and Downs]
  • The Senators brought their Dads along for the game against the Blackhawks. Here's a nice feature on Mark Stone and his family. Stone was a healthy scratch on Sunday. [Ottawa Citizen]
NHL Links
  • Two health scares this week, with Nick Foligno losing feeling on the right side of his body (he's okay now) after an accidental collision with a linesman hurt his neck, and Pens defenseman Olli Maatta potentially having thyroid cancer (he should also be okay thanks to early detection). Also included is a link on how common hockey injuries are usually detected and treated quickly. [Columbus DispatchTSNSunnybrook]
  • Take a look at this crazy HockeyDB page on Jarrod Skalde, the currently head coach of the Norfolk Admirals (ANA). [HockeyDB]
  • Bob McKenzie has an informative column on the 10-game threshold where teams have to make a decision on players with ELCs. He notes that the Senators decision with Lazar may come around game 39, which can take a year off of free agency. [TSN]