Share This Page

Penguins' stars taking more penalties

| Saturday, March 22, 2014, 10:51 p.m.
NHLI via Getty Images
James Neal headshot

The Penguins have suffocated opponents in short-handed situations in 2013-14, killing penalties at the second-best clip (86.2 percent) among NHL teams. And, on the whole, the Pens have played a disciplined brand of hockey, cutting their average penalty minutes from 11.7 per game during the strike-shortened 2012-13 season to 10.6 minutes in 2013-14. The club has been more lax with penalties during the New Year, though — and their high-scoring stars are among those spending more time in the box.

The Penguins averaged less than 10 penalty minutes per game during the fall, well below the 11.1 NHL team average this season. But that figure spiked to nearly 14 minutes per game in early 2014. Beset by injuries and perhaps fatigued by the extra ice time, the Pens' normally stellar penalty kill proved mortal in January and February (73.6 percent kill rate, compared to the 82.1 percent NHL average).

The PK has received some well-deserved rest so far in March.

In the box

Month PIM/Game

October 9.7

November 9.3

December 11.5

January 13.1

February 13.8

March 8.8

NHL Avg. 11.1

Source: ESPN.com

With top penalty killer Paul Martin shelved by a broken hand and the playoffs less than a month away, the Penguins need to avoid giving opponents the man advantage. Sharpshooter James Neal, who served a five-game suspension earlier this season for kneeing Boston's Brad Marchand in the head, especially needs to keep his cool.

Neal's physical style has helped him net the sixth-highest points per game total (1.11) in the game, but he's also spending far more time in the penalty box.

Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz, first and 30th respectively in points per game, also are racking up more penalty minutes. Evgeni Malkin isn't drawing the ref's ire more often this season, but he joins Neal in the one penalty minute per game club.

Stars sitting

2013-14 2012-13Player PIM/G PIM/G Diff.

James Neal 1.02 0.65 +0.37

Sidney Crosby 0.58 0.44 +0.14

Chris Kunitz 0.9 0.8 +0.10

Evgeni Malkin 1.00 1.16 -0.16

David Golebiewski is a freelance writer.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.