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Dallas Stars Penalty Report Card: Breaking Down the Third Quarter in Minors

The quarterly examination of the Stars minors taken and drawn shows some interesting trends even as the overall number of calls has dropped in recent weeks.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

With the Dallas Stars season hitting the three quarter mark with Wednesday's 5-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks, it's time once again to take a look at the special teams situation

If you're a complete penalty nerd like me, or you are new to my tracking system for unmatched minors that put the Stars in a special teams situation, you can check out the first quarter of the season here and the second quarter breakdown here.

So lets dive right into the cumulative numbers through 36 games. As always, "Safety" stands for player safety penalties, which include boarding, charging, cross checking, elbowing, high-sticking, slashing, roughing and the really nasties. "Interference" are for the obstruction-type calls, your holds, hooks, trips interference and the like. And "other" is generally game-flow rules and unsportsmanlike. Delay of game and too many men are the biggies here.

Total minors Safety Obstruction Other Matching Majors Fighting
Stars 155 40 78 17 20 1 22
Opponents 147 34 86 7 20 1 22

There have also four total penalty shots awarded so far - two for the Stars and two for their opponents.

As the season has gone along, the Stars have come back to their opponents in terms of penalties taken, and then continue to draw more obstruction-type calls than they allow. This is a good indication that, even though the Stars struggle to finish many nights, they are starting to possess the puck more.

They have also stopped shooting themselves in the foot so much in terms of preventable safety calls, though they still are far ahead of their opponents in the "other" category, which includes things like too many men, delay of game and unsportsmanlike conduct.

Here's the breakdown of the penalties the Stars have taken over the first three quarters of the season.

Total minors Safety Obstruction Other Matching Majors Fighting
Games 1-12 63 24 27 5 7 0 4
Games 13-24 51 7 29 8 7 1 10
Games 25-36 41 9 22 4 6 0 8

Remember how Razor has mentioned several times that the number of penalties being called has taken a precipitous drop over the last several weeks? He's on to something.

According to my numbers, things have taken a real turn for the even-strength over the back half of the season. There were an average of 9 minor penalties called per game the Stars were involved in over the first half of the season, which has dropped to 7.25. That's a fairly significant drop with all indications the numbers will continue to go down as we get closer to the usual free-for-all playoff mode.

For the Stars part, they've continued to behave well in the safety infraction category, and they cut back down on the number of game-flow calls they were taking as well. This chart does not account for the penalty shot surrendered by Jordie Benn.

Here's the trends in the calls the Stars have drawn.

Total minors Safety Obstruction Other Matching Majors Fighting
Games 1-12 47 9 29 2 7 1 4
Games 13-24 54 6 34 5 7 0 10
Games 25-36 46 17 23 0 6 0 8

The Stars also drew one penalty shot over this most recent stretch, though Antoine Roussel could not convert the opportunity.

Teams have been taking many more physical liberties with the Stars as of late, as you can see from the uptick in safety calls against. A good number of these are unmatched roughing minors, which we'll get to in a little bit. Overall, at least in the special teams department, it was a fairly even quarter of the season for Dallas.

Now onto the call breakdown, first the penalties the Stars have committed this year.

Call Total Games 1-12 Games 13-24 Games 25-36
Boarding 10 5 3 2
Charging 0 0 0 0
Cross checking 2 1 0 1
Elbowing 0 0 0 0
High sticking 13 10 3 0
Slashing 6 4 1 1
Roughing 9 4 0 5
Goalie Interference 2 1 0 1
Holding 10 4 3 3
Holding the stick 3 0 2 1
Hooking 27 8 13 6
Interference 21 8 8 5
Tripping 15 6 3 6
Too many men 4 0 3 1
Delay of game 5 1 3 1
Closing the hand 3 3 0 0
Unsportsmanlike 5 1 2 2

This chart does not include entries for illegal check to the head, kneeing, checking from behind, instigators or diving because those are relatively uncommon calls that the Stars still have yet to take this season. The Stars actually have been called for at least one outright dive - Derek Roy a few games ago - but it was part of a matching minor set and therefore not broken out in these numbers.

First of all, can I get a round of applause for an entire 12-game stretch without a high stick penalty? Some of that was bound to even out after the luckdragons they had in that department to start the season. The number of hooking calls dropped significantly as well, though some of that is an increasing call standard from referees.

From my point of view, the most concerning part of these numbers over the last stretch were the roughings and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. Remember, this chart only includes unmatched minors, so there were five instances of one-man roughing calls that put the Stars shorthanded in the past 12 games. That's too many. Roughing is a team discipline penalty as it involves illegal use of hands to the face - mild gloved punches, facewashes - and general late pile running. While you like to see the team stick up for each other, it only ends up hurting the cause if they put their teammates shorthanded.

And who, exactly, has been the guiltiest Stars player this year? Unfortunately, I don't have these numbers broken down by quarter, but I can tell you that Brenden Dillon is starting to show signs of wear and tear via the penalties he's taking. He finished the first half with 7 penalties called on him (for the entire breakdown, see here) but has taken 5 over the last 12 games alone - a tripping, roughing, holding the stick, holding and unsportsmanlike conduct - to jump into the team lead in unmatched minors.

Player Penalties
Brenden Dillon 12 (4 interference, board, cross check, high stick, rough, hold stick, hold, trip, unsportsmanlike)
Stephane Robidas 11 (4 hook, 3 interference, 2 hold, high stick, trip)
Cody Eakin 10 (2 hook, 2 trip, cross check, hold, hold stick, interference, delay, closing hand)
Vernon Fiddler 10 (2 rough, 2 hold, 2 hook, high stick, slash, goalie interference, unsportsmanlike)
Jaromir Jagr 10 (5 hook, 2 slash, hold, interference, delay)
Eric Nystrom 8 (3 interference, 2 board, rough, hook, unsportsmanlike)
Alex Goligoski 8 (3 trip, hold, hook, interference, delay, close hand)
Brenden Morrow 7 (2 board, 2 high stick, goalie interference, hook, interference)
Philip Larsen 7 (2 board, 2 interference, high stick double, trip, delay)
Antoine Roussel 7 (3 rough, 2 unsportsmanlike, high stick, trip)
Jamie Benn 5 (board, high stick double, slash, hold stick, trip)
Aaron Rome 5 (board, rough, hook, trip, delay)
Jordie Benn 5 (2 hold, high stick, hook, interference)
Ryan Garbutt 5 (2 trip, high stick, rough, hook)
Michael Ryder 4 (board, high stick, slash, hook)
Team 4 (4 too many men)
Trevor Daley 3 (high stick, interference, trip)
Ray Whitney 2 (high stick, hook)
Reilly Smith 2 (hook, interference)
Loui Eriksson 2 (hook, interference)
Tom Wandell 2 (hook, close hand)
Jamie Oleksiak 2 (hook, trip)
Erik Cole 2 (hold, interference)
Derek Roy 1 (hook)
Tomas Vincour 1 (slash)

Colton Sceviour, Matt Fraser, Kari Lethonen, Cristopher Nilstorp, Richard Bachman, Alex Chiasson and Francis Wathier have all played in at least one game for the Stars this season without taking a penalty. You might think this is not notable for goalies, but I was raised on the Eddie Belfour school of netminding, so I think it's important.

Eakin remains surprisingly high on this list given his role and ice time responsibilities. Defensemen are always near the tops of penalties called charts, and Nystrom and Fiddler are trying to walk the physical line to make guys jump them, but that's not Eakin's game for the most part. The types of calls he's taking indicate to me he's getting behind the play while on defense and reaching, either with his hand or his stick. He's still a relatively young player in terms of NHL experience, but it's worth watching how he adjusts. And to his credit, he's only taken two minors over the past 12 games.

Also worth noting is the improvement from Larsen. Yes, he missed a long stretch of games with an injury, but he's definitely been playing with more composure recently.

There are also some interesting trends in terms of penalties drawn.

Call Total Games 1-12 Games 13-24 Games 25-36
Boarding 0 0 0 0
Charging 2 2 0 0
Cross checking 5 1 2 2
Elbowing 2 1 0 1
High sticking 10 0 4 6
Slashing 4 1 1 2
Roughing 10 4 0 6
Kneeing 1 0 1 0
Goalie Interference 6 2 2 2
Holding 13 7 6 0
Holding the stick 0 0 0 0
Hooking 18 4 5 9
Interference 19 3 8 8
Tripping 30 13 13 4
Too many men 0 0 0 0
Delay of game 6 2 4 0
Closing the hand 0 0 0 0
Unsportsmanlike 1 0 1 0

As above, this chart does not include entries for illegal check to the head, checking from behind, holding the stick, instigators or diving because those are relatively uncommon calls that the Stars have yet to draw.

The number of trips dropped pretty significantly over the past 12 games, but there was also an uptick in hooking. That tells me that a.) the call standard in general has raised, leading to fewer calls overall and b.) opponents are still reaching with their sticks a bit, just getting it at the hip, waist or hand level rather than down in the feet.

Dallas also drew a fairly large number of safety calls, including a very significant six unmatched roughings. The games have been getting nastier off the puck as the season has gone along, which is pretty typical. As much as it's a problem that the Stars have been taking so many unmatched roughings, it's also good to know it's not been a one-sided thing.

Here's the list of calls drawn by individual:

Player Penalties
Brenden Morrow 10 (3 hook, 2 trip, cross check, high stick, rough, hold, hook)
Loui Eriksson 10 (4 hook, 2 trip, slash, kneeing, hold, interference)
Jaromir Jagr 9 (4 trip, 3 hold, cross check, hook)
Reilly Smith 8 (3 hold, cross check, elbow, slash, rough, interference)
Alex Goligoski 8 (3 trip, 2 interference, charge, high stick, high stick double)
Antoine Roussel 6 (2 hook, rough, hold, interference, trip)
Stephane Robidas 5 (2 rough, cross check, hook, interference)
Trevor Daley 5 (3 trip, hold, hook)
Derek Roy 5 (2 trip, high stick, rough, interference)
Ray Whitney 5 (3 trip, high stick double, hook)
Kari Lehtonen 5 (5 goalie interference)
Erik Cole 5 (3 interference, hook, trip)
Jamie Benn 5 (2 interference, cross check, hold, hook)
Eric Nystrom 4 (high stick, slash, interference, trip)
Vernon Fiddler 4 (high stick, hook, interference, trip)
Brenden Dillon 3 (rough, interference, trip)
Cody Eakin 3 (2 high stick, interference)
Ryan Garbutt 3 (high stick, interference, trip)
Jamie Oleksiak 3 (hold, interference, trip)
Michael Ryder 3 (slash, interference, trip)
Tom Wandell 2 (charge, hold)
Matt Fraser 2 (2 hook)
Aaron Rome 2 (2 rough)
Jordie Benn 2 (rough, trip)
Cristopher Nilstorp 1 (goalie interference)
Francis Wathier 1 (elbow)
Tomas Vincour 1 (slash)

Sceviour, Larsen, Bachman and Chiasson have yet to draw a call this year. This also does not account for penalty shots drawn by Roussel and Garbutt or the major drawn by Dillon (I believe it was for a spear).

The Stars didn't draw a single power play in their most recent game, Wednesday against the Anaheim Ducks, and one of the big reasons is they've lost three of their top five penalty drawers over recent weeks. Morrow and Jagr were obviously traded while Reilly Smith is back in Austin. It is very good to see Smith at the top of this list, as it illustrates his solid hockey sense and nose for the dangerous areas in the offensive zone. Opponents also like to beat him up for some reason, when he's far from the most objectionable member of the lineup.

And speaking of that guy, I do think it's interesting to note that Roussel is not drawing the type of penalties you'd expect from an "agitator." You'd expect a lot more unmatched roughs, slashes and cross checks if opponents were just trying to remove him from the game. He draws the vast majority of calls through his speed. I enjoy his extracurriculars as much as anyone else, but I think he can learn to walk the line a little better - he draws plenty of calls and annoys plenty of opponents without taking so many silly calls himself.

Also surprising to me is, again, Eakin. He has the puck on his stick a lot but simply does not draw penalties at the rate you'd expect. I've watched him a little bit to try and figure out why, and I've noticed he tends to avoid driving at opponents when he has the puck. He likes to slash away from a guy rather than trying to run through them. It's a strategy that obviously works for him, and I wouldn't suggest that anyone change their entire style just to draw more calls, but it is probably something worth watching has he gets more minutes in situations where you'd like your best players to draw calls.

If you've got any questions about the breakdown or call standards in general, feel free to leave a comment. My method of tracking and analysis is obviously far from perfect, and I'd love to hear input on the types of trends you guys would like to know more about.