One of the real hot button issues of the early Stars season has been penalties. Only the Philadelphia Flyers have taken more minor penalties this season than your Dallas Stars. The natural assumption of that unfortunate fact is that the Stars are an incredibly undisciplined team.I wasn't convinced that the 84 minors they've taken is an indication that the Stars are an undisciplined team. Four of those are bench minors, and that pace isn't likely to continue.
The amount of penalties the Stars are taking is only one side of the equation. How well do the Stars draw penalties? If drawing penalties is a skill, and taking penalties is correctable then how much work do the Stars need to do? They've taken a lot of penalties so far, but some of that negative impact can be negated if the Stars are able to get on the power play themselves instead of just loading the opposing gun.
So, what I've done is compared the penalties taken by the Stars to the penalties they've drawn on an individual basis to see who is putting the Stars in the hole the most. The results might not be terribly surprising, but a few players who seem to be hurting the Stars might not be hurting them as much as it would seem. Follow the jump to see the results.
Most of the data I'm going to be using comes from behindthenet.ca, but one aspect is an extra step I took. Directly below is the key for the data. The penalty numbers are for even strength situations.
Taken = Penalties Taken
Drawn = Penalties Drawn
PTake/60 = Penalties Taken per 60 minutes of ice time
PDrawn/60 = Penalties Drawn per 60 minutes of ice time
Delta = PDrawn/60 - PTake/60. Who draws more penalties than they take per 60 minutes?
Delta is the extra step I added. The point of looking at these numbers is to see who is hurting the Stars the most by putting them on the penalty kill. The Stars have four players who have taken seven or more penalties, but they aren't all created equal.
I sorted the table to show which players have been the biggest negative in the penalty department. Three of the four guys I referenced above who have taken seven penalties are the top three on the of the table. Jamie Benn, and his seven penalties, are an issue. However, he's drawn eight. Despite his seven penalties he's still a net positive.
The biggest issues are Sheldon Souray and Nicklas Grossman. They're taking far and away more penalties than anyone else on the team. You would expect them to take more penalties since they take the more defensive shifts than offensive. Note that Alex Goligoski and Adam Pardy take the least while playing primarily offensive shifts, for instance.
Souray and Grossman have taken a combined 19 penalties without drawing a single call. If you work with the idea that each penalty is worth .2 goals (the average power play operates at 20%, and special teams are an efficient system) then Souray and Grossman have cost the Stars 3.8 goals through 16 games. Over the course of a full season the pace they're on will ultimately cost the Stars 20 extra goals, or .24 goals against per game. This might seem like an inconsequential amount, but .24 goals against per game last year was the difference between the Stars and San Jose Sharks defense.
The sky isn't falling though. If you look at the bottom of the chart you'll notice that somehow the Stars checking line is drawing considerably more penalties than they're taking. Eric Nystrom, Radek Dvorak, and Vern Fiddler have drawn a combined 11 penalties while taking only 3. When you consider their primary role, and where they generally start on the ice, those numbers are fairly remarkable.
Ultimately, the Stars as a team aren't that undisciplined. They've taken 57 even strength penalties so far in 2011/12, and drawn 42. Yes, they've taken 15 more penalties than they've drawn, but two players account for 19 of that difference. Grossman has taken eight even strength penalties in 13 games despite only taking 14 penalties overall for the entire 2010/11 season. The problems seem to be correctable with just a touch more discipline on the part of a couple players. At worst, the Stars are probably in the back end of the middle of the pack in terms of discipline. This team can most definitely win with that.