LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 7: Linesman Mark Wheeler skates Steve Ott #29 of the Dallas Stars off the ice after Ott received a game misconduct penalty for spearing against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on March 7, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
The Stars penalty issues aren't exactly breaking news to anyone that has watched the Stars play over the past few seasons. No one questions that they take too many penalties because, well, they do. Whether or not they take too many penalties isn't necessarily the question that should be asked though. Generally the amount of penalties a player draws gets ignored, and it shouldn't.
What we don't know from a quick glance at NHL.com is how the penalties a player draws compares to how many penalties they actually take. When the penalty situation is viewed through this lens a few pretty clear trends develop that the Stars would be wise to address (if possible) this off season to get on track for a 2013 playoff berth.
I've taken the readily available penalty numbers from behindthenet.ca and sorted them around to put them in a presentable form. The Stars forwards have been separated from the defensemen. Before going into any analysis of the numbers themselves I'm just going to throw them out there. The numbers below are pretty straight forward. Taken are penalties taken by the player. Drawn are penalties drawn by the player. From there each player's ratios per 60 minutes can be seen. Net/60 is the key to this though. It's just drawn per 60 minutes minus taken per 60 minutes. It's telling us what players generate the most beneficial special teams situations (higher = more power play time, lower = more penalty kill time) for the Stars.
First, the forwards.
And the defensemen...
Vernon Fiddler generates the most positive special teams time for the Stars. Brenden Morrow, Steve Ott, Stephane Robidas, and Sheldon Souray take the most penalties. We need added context to understand what exactly these numbers mean. Across the league forwards average .1 Net/60. Defenders across the league go at -.29 Net/60 on average.
Souray and Robidas were both heavily in the red in 2012. Souray had the lowest Net/60 of all defensemen in the Pacific Division. Robidas was tied for 3rd. The rest of the corps was average to above average. Alex Goligoski was tied with Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and Jason Demers at the top of the leader board among Pacific Division defensemen. Ideally Souray and Robidas would be closer to average, but considering the difficult minutes they played it makes sense that they would be below average in that regard.
The forwards are where things get interesting. Fiddler and Eric Nystrom are near the top of the list despite the difficult minutes they played last season. The bottom of the forward rankings are cause for concern. Michael Ryder and Mike Ribeiro are both much lower than they need to be. They were unleashed in the offensive zone last year, especially in the second half. Despite that they drew the fewest penalties of any Stars forwards. You would expect them to be at the top of the list based on the minutes they received.
The forward issues stand out when you compare the Stars group to their Pacific Division bunkmates. Four different Kings would lead the Stars forwards in net calls. Three different Sharks would lead the Stars forward group. Two different Ducks and two different Coyotes would also lead the Stars forward group.
The idea that the Stars need to turn around their penalty killing/power play time differential around isn't new. However, the most glaring issue keeping the Stars from turning that differential around is that their high end guys don't get the Stars on the power play as much as their contemporaries. I don't know how easily that can be changed, but the Stars need their top guys to get them on the power play more often in 2013.