Dallas Stars Penalty Report Card: 2013 Individual Minors Breakdown

USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Stars were basically even with their opponents in terms of minor penalties over the 2013 season. But how do the individual players stack up?

Last week, we took a look at how the Dallas Stars stacked up against their opponents in minors in 2013.

The full breakdown is here (spoiler alert - the Stars took way too many too many men on the ice penalties), and in case you missed it, here's the basic breakdown once again:

Total minors Safety Obstruction Other Matching Majors Fighting
Stars 204 53 102 23 26 1 26
Opponents 195 53 106 10 26 2 26

But the team numbers are really only half the story. To get a full understanding of the real problem areas and the things that can most easily be addressed headed into next season, you have to have an individual breakdown as well.

Today we're going to focus on the Stars players in two areas - penalties called and penalties drawn. So let's start with the raw totals for unmatched minors committed, along with a list of what each player was called for.

Player Penalties
Brenden Dillon 17 (Interference 6, cross check 3, rough 2, board, high stick, holding the stick, hook, trip, unsportsmanlike)
Stephane Robidas 16 (Hook 6, interference 4, hold 3, high stick 2, trip 1)
Cody Eakin 12 (Hold 2, hook 2, interference 2, trip 2, cross check, holding the stick, trip, closing the hand)
Eric Nystrom 12 (Board 4, interference 4, hook 2, rough, unsportsmanlike)
Vernon Fiddler 12 (Hook 4, rough 2, hold 2, high stick, slash, goalie interference, unsportsmanlike)
Jaromir Jagr 10 (Hook 5, slash 2, hold, interference, delay of game)
Alex Goligoski 9 (Trip 4, hold, hook, interference, delay of game, closing the hand)
Ryan Garbutt 9 (Elbow 2, slash 2, trip 2, high stick double minor, rough, hook)
Jamie Benn 8 (Holding the stick 2, board, highstick double minor, slash, goalie interference, trip, closing the hand)
Antoine Roussel 8 (Rough 3, unsportsmanlike 2, high stick, interference, trip)
Aaron Rome 7 (Board, high stick double minor, rough, hook, interference, trip, delay of game)
Philip Larsen 7 (Board 2, interference 2, high stick double minor, trip, delay of game)
Brenden Morrow 7 (Board 2, high stick 2, goalie interference, hook, interference)
Trevor Daley 5 (High stick, hold, hook, interference, trip)
Jordie Benn 5 (Hold 2, high stick, hook, interference)
Erik Cole 5 (Hold 2, interference 2, holding the stick)
Michael Ryder 4 (Board, high stick, slash, hook)
Reilly Smith 3 (Goalie interference, hook, interference)
Loui Eriksson 3 (High stick double minor, hook, interference)
Tom Wandell 3 (Closing the hand 2, hook)
Ray Whitney 2 (High stick, hook)
Lane MacDermid 2 (High stick, interference)
Jamie Oleksiak 2 (Hook, trip)
Derek Roy 1 (Hook)
Tomas Vincour 1 (Slash)

Colton Sceviour, Alex Chiasson, Francis Wathier, Matt Fraser, Kari Lehtonen, Richard Bachman and Cristopher Nilstorp all played for the Stars this year without taking a penalty. And if you think that's a given with goalies, clearly you've forgotten the Ed Belfour and Marty Turco eras.

Yes, all the defensemen are very high on this list, and that's to be expected given the position. It also makes sense that Dillon and Robidas finished at the top of this list, as they played by far the most difficult minutes on the team. What's more interesting to me is the breakdown of the penalties they took. Dillon took six "safety" calls, and many of his interference penalties were also an attempt at making a physical play a half-beat late. Robidas, on the other hand, has 14 calls of the obstruction variety (though to be fair, four were interference), and the two safety calls were high sticks. Some of that is a difference in styles - Dillon likes to throw his body around more aggressively than others - but some of it is a young kid learning to find that line.

Nystrom and Fiddler are high on this list because of their style - they're both trying very hard to incite other teams to want to kill them. Nystrom in particular has an issue with boarding - he wants to come in hard every time to make a point, and he sometimes has a problem recognizing when the player he's targeting is in a vulnerable position. Boarding is a tough one because many times it's not the hit itself that's the problem but an off-balance target. Still, the ultimate responsibility is on the guy throwing the check, and Nystrom has a definite trend going here.

Roussel is also taking a few too many penalties that he can control. In fine Steve Ott-esque style, he takes too many unmatched roughings in an attempt to throw guys off their games. It's a very effective move for a pest, but only when you either don't get caught or take a guy with you. Roussel only drew two matching minors this year, so he needs to work on the subtle factor when it comes to getting under other player's skin.

With Jagr gone to the Boston Bruins, the real standout to me on this list remains Cody Eakin. Eakin was used in a checking role at times this season, and most of his penalties are of the chasing variety. And to his credit, he cut down on the number of calls as the season went along, as evidenced by the chart below:

Player First Half Second Half Total
Dillon 7 10 17
Robidas 9 7 16
Eakin 8 4 12
Nystrom 5 7 12
Fiddler 8 4 12
Jagr 8 2 10
Goligoski 4 5 9
Garbutt 5 4 9
Ja. Benn 3 5 8
Roussel 4 4 8
Rome 3 4 7
Larsen 7 0 7
Morrow 5 2 7
Daley 3 2 5
Jo. Benn 3 2 5
Cole 0 5 5
Ryder 4 N/A 4
Smith 2 1 3
Eriksson 2 1 3
Wandell 2 1 3
Whitney 1 1 2
MacDermid N/A 2 2
Oleksiak 2 0 2
Roy 1 0 1
Vincour 1 0 1

Eakin and Larsen were the real "winners" in the second half of the season, as each saw their penalty totals drop dramatically. Larsen was the victim of some bad luck early in the year, particularly with a couple of boarding minors, and Eakin moved more into a scoring role than a checking role after the trade deadline. Fiddler also stopped taking nearly as many unmatched minors, though he continued to drag others with him to the box.

The other side of this coin is the number of penalties drawn. Here's a look at how those broke down this season:

Player Penalties Drawn
Jamie Benn 11 (Slash 2, hold 2, hook 2, interference 2, cross check, high stick, trip)
Loui Eriksson 11 (Hook 5, trip 2, slash, knee, hold, interference)
Brenden Morrow 10 (Hook 3, trip 2, cross check, high stick, rough, hold, interference)
Alex Goligoski 10 (High stick 3, trip 3, interference 2, charge, high stick double minor)
Stephane Robidas 9 (Rough 4, interference 3, cross check, hook)
Antoine Roussel 9 (Hook 3, cross check, high stick, rough, hold, interference, trip)
Jaromir Jagr 9 (Trip 4, hold 3, cross check, hook)
Erik Cole 9 (Interference 5, hook 2, holding the stick, trip)
Reilly Smith 8 (Hold 3, cross check, elbow, slash, rough, trip)
Cody Eakin 7 (High stick 2, trip 2, cross check, hook, interference)
Vernon Fiddler 7 (High stick 2, trip 2, rough, hook, interference)
Kari Lehtonen 6 (Goalie interference)
Ryan Garbutt 6 (Board, high stick, slash, hold, interference, trip)
Trevor Daley 5 (Trip 3, hold, hook)
Derek Roy 5 (Trip 2, high stick, rough, interference)
Ray Whitney 5 (Trip 3, high stick double minor, hook)
Eric Nystrom 5 (Interference 2, high stick, slash, trip)
Brenden Dillon 4 (Board, rough, interference, trip)
Tom Wandell 4 (Charge, cross check, slash, hold)
Matt Fraser 3 (Hook 2, board)
Aaron Rome 3 (Rough 2, interference)
Jamie Oleksiak 3 (Hold, interference, trip)
Jordie Benn 3 (Slash, rough, trip)
Michael Ryder 3 (Slash, interference, trip)
Philip Larsen 1 (Rough)
Cristopher Nilstorp 1 (Goalie interference)
Francis Wathier 1 (Elbow)
Tomas Vincour 1 (Trip)

Richard Bachman, Coloton Sceviour, Lane MacDermid and Alex Chiasson did not draw a penalty in their time with the Stars.

I'd like to start by taking a moment to pity poor Goligoski's face. He's a slight guy, sure, but I'm not sure that explains the fact that he got high sticked once every 12 games or so. Most high sticks are the luckdragons coming out to play. Perhaps Goligoski made them angry somehow.

In terms of penalties that you can read a little more into, Erik Cole is amazing. For a player who was in Dallas for roughly 2/3 of the season, he racked up calls with the best of them. Much of that is due to his speed - the hooks, trip and many of the interference calls are directly related to play where he beat a player one-on-one with speed and the other player was forced to foul. That's certainly a nice attribute to have.

The players at the very top of this list are no surprise, as you always expect to find your top offensive contributors at the top of the penalties drawn. But seeing Goligoski and Robidas so high is a bit revealing. As mentioned before, many of Goligoski's penalties drawn were unlucky high sticks, but Robidas has more of a pattern to his calls drawn - opponents just seem to want to kill him. Four roughs and a cross check are high for a defensemen who isn't involved in that many matching minors - those are more numbers you'd expect to see from an agitating forward.

Smith's presence near the top of this list is also a nice positive for the kid. He definitely had a few rough spots in his rookie season, but his hockey sense is demonstrated here. Though much like with Robidas, there are a fair number of safety calls as well that raise your eyebrow since he's a kid who doesn't play a real agitating style of game.

And speaking of agitators, I've mentioned this before, but Roussel draws most of his calls via his speed and puck handling ability, not his petulance. While that's a very interesting aspect of his game, it might behoove him to move away from some of the extracurriculars - he makes plenty of people angry just by being skilled, quick and mouthy. He was also relatively consistent with that through the course of the season, at least once he got up to Dallas and was established in an every-night role.

Here's how penalties drawn breaks down by half:

Player First half Second half Total
Ja. Benn 4 7 11
Eriksson 8 3 11
Morrow 6 4 10
Goligoski 7 3 10
Robidas 3 6 9
Roussel 4 5 9
Jagr 8 1 9
Cole 1 8 9
Smith 5 3 8
Eakin 1 6 7
Fiddler 3 3 7
Lehtonen 3 3 6
Garbutt 2 4 6
Daley 5 0 5
Roy 2 3 5
Whitney 3 2 5
Nystrom 0 5 5
Dillon 1 3 4
Wandell 2 2 4
Fraser 1 2 3
Rome 2 1 3
Oleksiak 3 0 3
Jo. Benn 1 2 3
Ryder 3 0 3
Larsen 0 1 1
Nilstorp 1 0 1
Wathier 0 1 1
Vincour 1 0 1

Eakin had a rough start to the year in terms of drawing calls but picked it up nicely in the second half, finishing tied for third among the team leaders in penalties drawn in the final 24 games. You can extrapolate whatever conclusions you want to from that one - luckdragons breaking to his side, more favorable matchups or earning a reputation among referees for being a speedy player many are forced to foul. Most likely, it's a combination of all of the above.

As I previously stated, Cole is a freaking magician. And I suspect Jamie Benn's numbers would have been a little closer if he had the benefit of the first five games and week-long training camp to get up to game speed. He was really not quite himself for the first 10 games or so, and that's likely the reason his first-half penalties-drawn numbers were a little down.

Eriksson's second-half drop is harder to explain. He was snakebitten this year around the net, but he was still putting himself in the right position. The did move him around with different linemates as the year went on, and he saw more time with Benn late, so perhaps it's just a matter of he didn't have the puck on his stick as much as the year went on.

As far as conclusions from all these numbers, from a team perspective, the Stars came around nicely after a first-10-games high-sticking binge. The biggest determining factor in the slight penalty disparity this season was the issue with far too many too many men on the ice calls and the centers' difficulty with the new faceoff rules.

And from an individual perspective, most players finished where you would have expected them with the possible exceptions of Eakin in the penalties taken category and Robidas and Smith in the penalties drawn area. There are also definite areas to work on - Dillon with cutting down on the silly physical fouls and Nystrom and the boarding, for example.

Oh, and Goligoski might want to invest in a full cage. The team dentist would appreciate it.

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