Last Tuesday night the Dallas Stars went on the power play when the Detroit Red Wings took a bench minor for too many men on the ice. It was the third period of a tie game and a golden opportunity to take the lead, except Tom Wandell took a hooking penalty 16 seconds later and the man advantage was ended.
Mike Heika, he of Dallas Morning News fame, immediately posed the question in the press box: "Do they lead the league in doing that?", and then he posed the question again on Thursday morning to Glen Gulutzan...
"I think by far the most," replied Gulutzan. He then added, somewhat comically, "I would really like Defending Big D to go see how many power plays have gotten nullified by us taking a penalty and maybe we could recalculate our average and go from there."
Challenge accepted. (He really said that, the audio is here if you don't believe us)
"I think we're on the top of the league in all the penalties we've taken while on the power play," he continued. "I can't think of all of them. Certainly some are warranted. [...] It just happens. I think when you're on the power play you have to be more cognizant that the refs have a better view and if you've got your stick in there they're more liable to call it."
The All-Star break being a perfect time for some our nerdier pursuits, I present the findings of this exercise and a brief discussion after the jump...
It's happened 20 times. We combed through the data and weeded out the matching minors taken on power plays to reveal this list of offenders, yanking the Stars off of the man advantage...
|Opponent||Player||Call||Zone||PP Time Lost|
|@CHI||B Morrow||Tripping||Off. Zone||1:56|
|PHX||S Ott||Hooking||Off. Zone||1.29|
|@CBJ||S Robidas||High Sticking||Def. Zone||1:29|
|@LAK||J Benn||Hooking||Off. Zone||1:05|
|@PHX||B Morrow||Cross Checking||Off. Zone||0:14|
|COL||M Ribeiro||Tripping||Off. Zone||0:29|
|@CAR||J Benn||Interference||Neu. Zone||1:12|
|@WSH||M Ryder||Tripping||Neu. Zone||1:41|
|EDM||B Morrow||Interference||Off. Zone||1:48|
|TOR||J Benn||Interference||Off. Zone||0:21|
|TOR||S Robidas||Hooking||Def. Zone||0:23|
|@COL||S Souray||Slashing||Def. Zone||0:49|
|NYI||S Ott||Roughing||Off. Zone||1:01|
|ANA||S Ott||Interference||Off. Zone||0:49|
|BOS||M Ryder||Interference||Off. Zone||1:01|
|BOS||M Ryder||Tripping||Off. Zone||0:49|
|@ANA||S Souray||Slashing||Neu. Zone||1:19|
|@LAK||B Morrow||Hooking||Off. Zone||1:08|
|DET||T Wandell||Hooking||Neu. Zone||1:44|
|TBL||V Fiddler||Slashing||Off. Zone||0:38|
The total power play time lost comes out to 20:46. Adding that power play time to the Stars' total on the season (263:04) would take them from 24th in the league in total PP time up to 13th.
If you then really wanted to recalculate the average as Coach suggested, you could divide their 21 power play goals into 134 attempts rather than 154 and come up with 15.67%, which is a little closer to where they want to be but not much. (154 power play opportunities, by the way, ranks 28th in the league at the break)
The causes are probably many here. First of all, the Stars employ some interesting characters on their power play. That's a nice way of saying that Brenden Morrow (1st), Steve Ott (13th), Jamie Benn (22nd) and Sheldon Souray (8th) are all among the league leaders in minor penalties taken and when you have them out on your power play you will eventually have some bleed over on that aspect of their games.
You try to take the good with the bad, even though there hasn't been as much good as the Stars would like where the power play is concerned this year.
Without reviewing each of the 20 one at a time it's hard to say how many were "good" penalties to take. Certainly you see the three in the defensive zone and it conjures visions of a desperate attempt to stop a short handed scoring chance, but most of these are in the offensive zone and most of them were probably preventable. The interference calls are numerous and sometimes officials are predisposed to even up a call here or there, though they'd never say as much.
The roughing, high sticking, cross checking and slashing penalties are the ones you'd probably really rather not see.
Mostly though, you have to remember that other teams do this as well. Let's see how many times the Stars have drawn penalties while they were the shorthanded ones...
|CHI||M Hossa||Slashing||Neu. Zone|
|PHX||T Pyatt||Goaltender Interference||Off. Zone|
|STL||J Arnott||Holding||Off. Zone|
|STL||A McDonald||Holding||Off. Zone|
|CBJ||V Prospal||Unsportsmanlike Conduct||Def. Zone|
|@ANA||C Perry||Being Corey Perry||Off. Zone|
|@PHX||M Hanzal||Hooking||Off. Zone|
|@WSH||R Hamrlik||Tripping||Def. Zone|
|SJS||D Murray||Tripping||Neu. Zone|
|@COL||C Wilson||Tripping||Off. Zone|
|@LAK||J Williams||Hi-Sticking||Off. Zone|
|@STL||M D'Agostini||Interference||Def. Zone|
12 times. In neither case is the home team much more likely to get a call one way or the other, though the sample size is poor as it's just the Stars and who they've played in 48 games.
So there's no doubt that the Stars take themselves off the power play more so than their opponents do, but not as much as you might think being a frustrated fan of this team at times. With 34 games remaining it may even itself out even further and become a fairly moot issue.
Steve Ott is credited in the league's play by play sheets with drawing five of the 13 calls in this list to lead the team and next is Sheldon Souray, credited with three of them.
Someday perhaps we'll come up with a more elegant and complete solution to analyzing this kind of thing on a league wide basis but I'd rather leave that to the professionals over at Behind The Net and the like. Our guess is that there might be some loose correlation with a teams penalty kill quality and how often those units are able to draw calls to end opponent's power plays. That's what we would expect, anyway, assuming that most of these instances are caused, not by the mistakes or carelessness of teams on the power play, but rather by the aggressiveness of those killing them.