Dallas Stars Penalty Killing Asking For Trouble

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

As of Thursday night the Stars penalty killing was ranked 18th in the NHL. How long can it continue to be that high?

The Dallas Stars penalty killing isn't setting the world on fire. They currently rank 18th in the NHL so they're in the middle of the pack at 81 percent. The Stars ended 2013 17th in the NHL operating at an 81% clip. Despite the roster and organizational turnover the penalty killing is getting results at more or less the same level in 2014 as 2013.

The Stars are giving up shots at a very high rate when shorthanded though. Last year the Stars gave up the 4th most shots per 60 minutes of shorthanded time in the league. This season the Stars are allowing the second most behind only the miserable Buffalo Sabres. In 2013 the Stars allowed 55.1 shots per 60 minutes. The league "leading" Carolina Hurricanes allowed 59.

Early on this season five teams are actually allowing more shots than the Hurricanes allowed in 2013. The Sabres are allowing an other-worldly 71.1. The Stars are on their heels at 68.7. The Stars are allowing more than one shot per shorthanded minute. As a frame of reference, the league's stingiest penalty kill belongs to the New Jersey Devils who allow only 40.7 shots per 60 minutes.

It's key to realize that the season is young. These numbers will fluctuate as the season ages, but considering what the Stars did last year it isn't unreasonable to assume that this trend will continue. What the Stars do have going for them is that they have significantly decreased the amount of time they spend shorthanded. Only three teams in the NHL spent more time at 4 on 5 than the Stars last year. Currently 19 teams have spent more time at 4 on 5.

The Stars penalty killing is going to improve through tactical and personnel improvements over time, but if we look at the successes and failures of the current group we can see who the most and least effective penalty killers have been. The table below is the full list of the Stars penalty killers who have at least a minute of penalty killing time per 60 minutes of ice time:

Name TOI/60 SA/60
Roussel 1.41 85
Daley 2.35 68
Fiddler 2.07 60.4
Eakin 1.56 57.5
Robidas 2.63 57
Goligoski 1.08 55.6
JoBenn 2.26 55.2
Dillon 2.38 54.7
Peverley 1.3 54.7
Garbutt 1.53 53.9
Horcoff 1.69 50.4
Chiasson 1.39 46.6

One thing that immediately stands out is how many shots per 60 minutes the Stars allow when Antoine Roussel is on the ice killing a penalty. In the small sample sizes we have here, 16 minutes of ice time for Roussel, it's possible for a really bad section of one or two games to make a big impact on the rates. If this situation persists though the Stars will have to think seriously about getting Roussel off of the penalty kill.

Trevor Daley could be suffering from the same bad stretch that could be impacting Roussel, but the shot rates with him on the ice are abnormally high also. Both Daley and Roussel were solid last season so there is plenty of reason to believe that they will improve. The early returns just haven't been inspiring.

One player who has provided some surprisingly good early returns is rookie Alex Chiasson. He has been the Stars most effective penalty killer through the first 12 games, and could be in line for some more ice time as the season progresses.

Another aspect of this list which stands out is that Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin are absent. Lindy Ruff mentioned that he wanted players to play in all situations in training camp, but all situations apparently doesn't mean while shorthanded. The absence of these two allows them to rest during the penalty kills and be fresh coming back to even strength play. So over the course of the season this tactical decision should allow the Stars top two players to be fresher.

The Stars were able to maintain a middle of the pack penalty killing unit last year despite allowing a large amount of shots. They could do it again this year, but it's a situation worth monitoring as we go further into the 2014 season. If the current rate of shots continues it wouldn't be entirely surprising to see the Stars change the personnel up at some point in the not too distant future.


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