Kukla's Korner

Who Draws the Calls?

One of the pivotal moments in any NHL game is when one team or the other gets a power play.  Particularly in light of this year’s new rule that has most power plays commencing with a faceoff in the offensive zone, special teams should play an especially critical role this season.

Even though they record which player draws a given call within the Play By Play files (i.e. “PENL ATL #4 BOGOSIAN Holding(2 min), Def. Zone Drawn By: WSH #91 FEDOROV”), the NHL surprisingly doesn’t track this data; so I do, and make the results available to the public as an online spreadsheet, which anyone can download and use on their own.

The penalties that drive these results exclude 10-minute misconducts, which don’t change the number of on-ice players for each team.  They do include fouls which result in Penalty Shots, as the idea here is to capture which players are creating events which are likely to lead to either a Goal For or Goal Against, and a Penalty Shot is even more likely to result in a goal than a minor penalty is.  What we end up with is how many penalties a player Draws, minus the number of Fouls they commit, to yield a Penalty Plus/Minus, an indication how that individual contributes to the special teams situations a team enjoys (or tries to survive).

Data updated each Monday during the season
Click here to go to the Google Doc

Like any statistic, we need to understand the context in which these numbers are generated, in order to have some perspective when trying to judge what is “good” vs. “bad”.  Defensemen, by the nature of their craft, are naturally prone to taking penalties.  While trying to contain an opponent cycling in their end, for example, a defender often has to hook or hold the attacking forward.  So expect the bottom of this list to fill up with defensemen playing heavy minutes.

Similarly, the top of the chart is usually loaded with skilled offensive performers.  Last year’s list was led by Dustin Brown, Sidney Crosby (despite missing a long stretch due to injury), Pavel Datsyuk and Alexander Ovechkin.

So when trying to determine what’s noteworthy here, let’s look for the exceptions to these rules…

Up near the top, there are a few surprises like San Jose’s Devin Setoguchi, and Buffalo’s Patrick Kaleta.

Looking at the bottom, what are Dallas’ Brendan Morrow and Phoenix’s Shane Doan doing down there?  Captains should set a better example for their team!

Taking another tack, page through the list and look for those agitators like Sean Avery or Jordin Tootoo; are they generating power plays by frustrating opponents, or are they undisciplined, hurting their team by leaving them shorthanded?

Over the coming weeks, I’ll add additional fields that will allow you to sift through the information here by team, by player position, and whatever else you’d like to suggest in the comments below.

Filed in: NHL Statistical Analysis, | On the Forecheck | Permalink


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