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Sterling Predictions: Penalties

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Today's post is the first in a series of eight articles featuring Silver Seven Staff predictions for the 2014-15 season.

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The Ottawa Senators led the league in minor penalties in 2013-14 with 379 (22 more than the next team, the Philadelphia Flyers). Will Ottawa finish the season in the top-3 for minor penalties taken in 2014-15? Bonus: How many minors will the Sens take?

Mrs. O: Yes, they will since they have the same culprits as last year and have added Borowiecki. I think maybe they'll improve slightly from last year, but I'm going with 324 penalties.

Sheer Craziness: Ottawa will once again be in the top-three for penalties, because Chris Neil. But I don't think they'll keep their place as worst offender. I think with the new rule changes, we'll see a slight upswing in penalties, so for a second-place finish, I'm saying they finish with 371 minors.

Peter: Since the Sens were first in minor penalties taken last year by such a wide margin and still have their top four minor-penalty-takers on the roster, I'd certainly expect them to be in the top three teams in the league. Which is really too bad, since penalties were a big part of Ottawa's problems last year. Maybe if they get off to a better start this season, frustration won't mount as much as last team; maybe if Paul MacLean does go back to "Old Paul" we'll see Chris Neil and Zack Smith play less ice time and, by extension, take fewer penalties. That's my hope, anyway. But I still think we'll see... let's say... 348 minor penalties taken, to pick a completely random number.

Ian: The Sens will finish eighth in penalties with 316. I'm banking on them having learned their lesson from last year.

B_T: No, but I think it will be close.  I'll go with 332.

Michaela: Paul MacLean seems to have a different attitude towards this season than the last. He claims to be a little more relaxed, and wants to find a balance between the MacLean of last season (tough) and the MacLean of the 2012-13 season (calm). If he stays true to this, and the players respond well to the new Paul MacLean, I think they will be a little more disciplined than they were last season. That being said, we still have Chris Neil. While I hope he and Zack Smith see a little less ice time than last season, I think this team is likely to finish in the top 3, with around 342 minor penalties (number chosen at complete random).

Adnan: Yes, all the main culprits are there and the coach is still there, so I don't see any reason to expect they won't be top 3 again in penalties. I will go with 354 as that is Ottawa's minor penalties/82 since MacLean took over.

nkb: The Sens will finish top of the league again with whopping 374 minor penalties taken, with the usual suspects being the biggest culprits. In the minutes he plays, Borowiecki won't help on this front either.

Amelia: Yes. Neil and Smith will still be getting more minutes than they should. Ottawa will take 352 minors.

Ary: With Neil, Smith, Michalek, and Cowen still around, I think the Senators will finish the season in the top-3 for minor penalties taken (guess: 360). Adding noted-penalty taker Mark Borowiecki to the mix will make up for subtracting Spezza's porous penalty differential from last season. I think that if MacLean and co. really want to cut down on goals against, especially on the PK, two things will need to happen: 1) These players will have to play less or be punished for their poor play, and 2) Anderson's PK sv% will have to increase. A big difference between his stellar lockout year and his poor year last year was his terrible sv% on the PK, but thankfully, a lot of that is due to luck. On the flip side, Lehner had a fantastic PK sv% and this will probably regress back to the league average a bit. All in all, this problem is fixable (use these players less) but I don't see it happening - bad news for the Senators.