A Story of Penalty Minutes and the 2011-2012 New Jersey Devils

You Can't Do That!

The New Jersey Devils are beginning the "final stretch" as Peter DeBoer would say. All star weekend is behind them and there are still a few injuries that are lingering. With the season eclipsing the half way mark and approaching the two-thirds mark, the Devils are a bubble team. In order to become a playoff team, the Devils need to address many things and make adjustments down the stretch.

The Devils need to keep up their scoring from Tuesday's game against the Rangers. They need the goaltending to be consistent, the defense to be stingy, and the special teams to be effective. One of the things the Devils need to be mindful of is how often their special teams will need to pitch in. In other words, are the Devils drawing enough penalties to give the power play a chance? And, do they have to be on the penalty kill for more than a small amount of time? After the jump I'll take a look at a few different groups of Devils and how they do in drawing and taking penalties.

First off, I limited the analysis to skaters who played at least 15 games and then I split the Devils into three groups: top forwards, bottom forwards, and defensemen. The stats that are divided by 60, or per game, are non-coincidental and compiled at even strength. I'll start with the top forwards, in terms of points and overall being better than the other group of forwards. If you disagree you can let me know in the comments.

Top Forwards

The players are ranked by the number of total penalty minutes they have accrued this season. First off, this group of forwards averages 14.73 minutes on ice per game and they average 28.71 PIM this season. David Clarkson has taken the most amount of penalties on the team with 86 penalty minutes. He also has the lowest number of points in this grouping of forwards. This is likely because he sees less ice time and plays on the third line. Clarkson also takes the fourth most penalties per game on the Devils' roster. This doesn't concern me because Clarkson also draws the highest amount of penalties per game, with 2.1. Petr Sykora on the other hand takes 0.5 more penalties per game than he draws. He is the only top forward who takes more than he draws.

Zach Parise and Adam Henrique, along with Clarkson hold the highest drawn to taken ratio on the team with a 0.7. This means they draw many more penalties than they take. Now that the Devil's powerplay isn't leaking shorthanded goals like a faucet, *Knocks on Wood* it is a good thing when the Devils get the man advantage. Another note about Henrique is that he takes virtually no penalties. I got these stats from behindthenet.ca and Henrique's total is so low it rounds to zero penalties per game. Henrique, along with the other top forwards, very rarely puts the Devils in a penalty kill situation.

Top_seven_forwards_pim_medium

Bottom Forwards

I'm going to forewarn you that I may be a little bitter in this section given how Peter DeBoer continues to roll a fourth line that includes my least favorite players. This selection of forwards averages 8.15 TOI/60 and has taken an average of 33.43 minutes. Also, none of these players have over 7 points, but I digress. Let's start with Eric Boulton. Mr. Boulton is allowed to be on the ice the least of any Devils player and manages the third most number of penalty minutes.

His other line mates, Cam Janssen and Ryan Carter are the other two players who have exceeded 32 PIMs this season. Simply fantastic! The only forwards in this grouping to draw more penalties than they take are Mattias Tedenby and Tim Sestito. Tedenby skates with a head of steam, which leads to more drawn penalties. Sestito brings the energy, and that forces the opposing team to trip him up whenever they can so he doesn't energize the team. All in all, this section could improve by just taking less penalties and not forcing the Devils to kill more penalties.

Bottom_seven_forwards_pim_medium

The Defense

The defense averages 15.71 TOI and an average accumulation of 13.75 PIMs this season. The defense takes about the same number of penalties per game as the top forwards. However, they draw fewer penalties. I expect forwards to draw more penalties just because of the nature of the game. Matt Taormina and Andy Greene are the only defensemen who draw more penalties than they take, by a margin of 0.5 and 0.6 respectively. For the defensemen who have played over 40 games, Larsson has taken the fewest number of penalties and has the highest TOI/60.

Devils_defensemen_pim_medium

To sum up what this all means, I looked up how the Devils fare in the number of powerplay and penalty kill situations compared to the league average. The Devils have had 163 powerplay opportunities; the league average is 172. They draw less penalties than the league average. Their powerplay is also under the league average, 14.72% vs. 17.31%. We have had 167 penalty kill situations while the league average is 172. The Devils take slightly less penalties and have a very good penalty kill. 89.22% vs. the league average of 82.69%. As the reader did you see any other correlations from the charts that may be of concern to the Devils? Thanks for reading, and check out the game thread tonight when the Devils play the Canadiens!

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