by PuckStopsHere on 04/05/09 at 05:58 AM ET
One question I decided to look at is the importance of being a tough team to winning hockey games. As a marker for toughness we will take the team’s total penalty minutes per game and plot it against their points so far this season.
As we can see, although there is quite a spread in the data points, the top teams in points this season all have less than average penalty minutes per game (Detroit, San Jose, Boston, Washington). All of the weakest teams are clumped toward the middle or high end in penalty minutes (NY Islanders, Colorado, Tampa Bay). There are four reasonably strong teams with the highest penalty minute totals (Philadelphia, Anaheim, Vancouver and Calgary). The correlation between points and penalty minutes is -0.241. In general, the more points a team gets, the less penalty minutes it will have. This makes sense because killing penalties is not the best way to win hockey games.
There is a competing school that says teams need to win the physical battle to win the game and in the process will take a lot of penalty minutes. The Anaheim Ducks won the 2007 Stanley Cup in this model. This has not been true this season
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