Friday, February 22, 2008

The Most Penalized Team In The Country

The most penalized team in the country .... but what does that really mean?

UND has, over 29 games, taken 248 penalties for 645 PIM this year. That's 225 minors, 7 majors, and 16 other penalties (all 10 minute). But why?

UND's head-to-head opponents have taken 223 minors, 3 majors, and 13 other penalties for a summary of 239 penalties for 591 minutes.

So let's put some context around that ....

Penalty Minutes: Games PIM PIM/G
1 North Dakota 29 645 22.2
2 Canisius 31 681 22.0
( North Dakota's Opponents 29 591 20.4)
3 Bowling Green 30 589 19.6
4 RIT 30 574 19.1
5 Western Michigan 32 590 18.4
6 Nebraska-Omaha 32 589 18.4
7 Sacred Heart 30 552 18.4
8 Miami 32 574 17.9
9 Ferris State 30 538 17.9
10 Michigan 32 571 17.8

Now, tell me, are UND's penalties the chicken or the egg? To try to figure that out let's play "Run the Scenario":

Theory 1: UND is a bunch of dirty hacks: Those poor Opponent souls are just doing what they have to to stay alive.

Contradictory Indicators: If UND was a bunch of dirty hacks, how are they leading the WCHA, #2 in the polls, and holder of an NCAA region #1 seed as of today?

Theory 2: Opponents are a bunch of dirty hacks. UND is defending itself.

Contradictory Indicators: UND has more penalties and PIMs. Pure retaliation doesn't fit this notion.

Theory 3: UND comes out playing a "to the edge" physical game. They make some hits, take a couple penalties along the way, but drive the opponent to retaliate questionably.

Contradictory Indicators: In this theory, the opponent should be at par or higher as retaliatory may be more severe penalties. So we may be close.

Theory 3 Amended: UND comes out playing a "to the edge" physical game. They make some hits, take a couple penalties along the way, but drive the opponent to questionably retaliate. UND doesn't stand for the retaliation and deals with it.

Indicator: UND has more minors but otherwise reasonably comparable penalty numbers.

I think we've found our plausible solution. But can we do more to make it fit the numbers and reality of the situation?

Let stop looking at penalty numbers, but games, and see what that can show us. Wouldn't you expect the most heavily penalized team in the country to be playing net short-handed games far more often than they are playing net even or man-advantage games? You would, and you'd be wrong in this case.

In games in which UND has:
- more power plays than its opponents, the Sioux are 8-1-2.
- fewer power plays than its opponents, the Sioux are 8-5-0.
- the same number of power plays, the Sioux are 3-2-0.

Therefore, in the 29 games UND has played, the Sioux have had the the same or more power plays than their opponents 16 times and fewer power plays 13 times.

So there you have it folks, the most penalized team in the country is even or at a total powerplays advantage in more games than not.

1 comment:

Nate said...

I think you make a relevant and important point. The main advantage or disadvantage associated with PIMs is power play time. There are, of course, other factors - such as being without the services of a player for a 10 minute stretch (thus shortening the bench) - but power play time is the key result of a penalty. So, to look at PIMs is not enough, you must also look at power play opportunities. You have done a good job here of pointing out how a stat can be a poor reflection of reality.