Wrong side of the whistle: NHL teams hit hardest by penalties


Earlier this week, PHT looked at the teams who tend to go on the power play far more often than they enter the penalty box, with the San Jose Sharks clearly leading the way. By a lot.

What about the other end of the spectrum? Well, it depends upon how you look at things.

Most time in the box

Chalk it up to strong coaching, great goaltending, or other factors, but some teams are hit harder by poor discipline than others.

Let’s start off in looking at sheer volume of penalty box trips, with help from’s many handy stats.

Team Times shorthanded PPGA
1 Anaheim Ducks 281 43
2 Calgary Flames 277 51
3 Winnipeg Jets 275 62
4 Colorado Avalanche 274 64
5 Washington Capitals 272 44
6 Boston Bruins 265 38
7 St. Louis Blues 263 40
8 Arizona Coyotes 260 59
9 New Jersey Devils 260 53
10 Tampa Bay Lightning 258 48
11 Pittsburgh Penguins 257 52
12 Toronto Maple Leafs 251 44
13 Dallas Stars 249 65
14 Montréal Canadiens 249 47
15 Philadelphia Flyers 247 50

As you can see, the Ducks were shorthanded more than any other NHL team. Even so, they only allowed 43 power-play goals in 2016-17, tying them with the Edmonton Oilers for the 10th-fewest given up.

What if you expand the view beyond last season and look at how teams fared since the lockout? You got it, and in this case, here are numbers for all 30 NHL teams.

Winnipeg Jets 376 1294 256
Arizona/Phx Coyotes 376 1284 284
Anaheim Ducks 376 1277 210
Philadelphia Flyers 376 1275 236
Detroit Red Wings 376 1253 230
Ottawa Senators 376 1242 236
Washington Capitals 376 1241 219
St. Louis Blues 376 1239 188
Blue Jackets 376 1229 227
New Jersey Devils 376 1225 218
Los Angeles Kings 376 1224 213
Montréal Canadiens 376 1222 213
Toronto Maple Leafs 376 1214 223
Pittsburgh Penguins 376 1212 206
Boston Bruins 376 1205 194
Colorado Avalanche 376 1205 236
Tampa Bay Lightning 376 1197 213
Dallas Stars 376 1193 241
Vancouver Canucks 376 1181 210
Florida Panthers 376 1176 243
Buffalo Sabres 376 1164 243
Edmonton Oilers 376 1151 221
Nashville Predators 376 1097 218
New York Islanders 376 1084 211
Calgary Flames 376 1082 215
New York Rangers 376 1081 197
Chicago Blackhawks 376 1044 192
Minnesota Wild 376 1040 193
San Jose Sharks 376 1037 190
Carolina Hurricanes 376 998 173

The Arizona Coyotes are easily the most assaulted by the broader numbers, which makes sense since they’ve dealt with some of the leanest years. The Buffalo Sabres are fittingly in the top ranks by similar logic.

It’s more interesting to consider teams who seem to go to the box more based (arguably) on style, and who suffers from poor PK units the most.

Remarkably, the Ducks once again find themselves in the lower third of the NHL as far as goals allowed, even though they take a lot of penalties.

Unfortunately for Anaheim, those wild ways hurt them when it mattered the most. They gave up a whopping 15 power-play goals during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, easily the most of the postseason. (Somehow, Nashville only allowed seven while the Penguins won it all despite yielding 12.)

Other observations

Let’s rattle off a few other notes, then.

Calm Hurricanes- The Hurricanes have already been tabbed as a team that could break through soon. If they can keep up their tendency to avoid penalties, they really might be onto something.

They’re the only team under 1,000 times shorthanded in that list above. Meanwhile, they join the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings as the only three teams with less than 100 major penalties since the last lockout.

It’s no surprise, then, that the Hurricanes allowed the fewest power-play goals with 173 during that span.

Hitchcock the key for Stars turnaround?- That said, the Blues stand out as the most efficient PK unit of that span.

Here are the top seven PK percentages from 2012-13 to 2016-17, with PPG allowed and times shorthanded:

1. Blues – 84.8 percent (188 allowed on 1,239 TS)
2. Bruins – 83.9 (194 allowed, 1,205)
3. Ducks – 83.5 (210 allowed, 1,277)
4. Penguins – 83 (206 allowed, 1,212)
5. Hurricanes – 82.7 (173 allowed, 998)
6 (t) Kings – 82.6 (213 allowed, 1,224)
6 (t) Canadiens – 82.6 (213 allowed, 1,222)

Meanwhile, the Coyotes, Sabres, Panthers and Stars are the only teams under an 80-percent kill rate.

A lot can go into a unit being successful or unsuccessful. Even so, could Ken Hitchcock whip the Dallas Stars into shape? It’s at least a possibility.

Carlyle loves the rough stuff- Randy Carlyle might be a changed man in Anaheim, but he still loves his ruffians.

If you look at teams with the most major penalties in individual seasons since the lockout, Carlyle-helmed teams dominated the top list:

1. His 2013-14 Maple Leafs (48 majors)
2. His 2012-13 Maple Leafs, with 46 majors in just 48 games.
Tied for third: Last season’s Ducks, with 46 in 82 games.

Now, it’s true that Bruce Boudreau’s 2015-16 Ducks were pretty ornery with 43 majors of their own, but it does seem like Carlyle is OK with a bit of carnage either way.

On the other end, there are five seasons’ worth of teams under 10 majors for a full campaign.

Penguins (2015-16) and Red Wings (2013-14) – nine majors
Red Wings in 2014-15 and 2015-16 – eight majors
Fittingly, Hurricanes in 2016-17: six majors.


Much like with most studies in an age of parity, the majority of teams seem to fall in the middle when looking at penalties (either from a pessimistic or optimistic standpoint).

Interestingly, there are teams that can survive their own mistakes and others who aren’t always exploiting their advantages, but perhaps we’ll see changes in 2017-18 and beyond?

The Buzzer: Night of the goalies

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Players of the Night:

Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning: The Lightning needed Vasilevskiy to play like the NHL All-Star that he is and that’s exactly what he gave them, stopping 40 shots to help the Lightning to a 2-0 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. The win was important for Tampa, who regained the top spot in the NHL standings and ended a three-game slide in the process. Vasilevskiy’s league-leading seventh shutout of the season ties a franchise record.

Petr Mrazek, Detroit Red Wings: Mrazek fielded 37 shots from the New Jersey Devils on Monday night and handled each and every one of them for his second shutout in as many starts.

Nick Cousins, Arizona Coyotes: Cousins got the ball rolling for the Desert Dogs in the first period, giving them a 1-0 lead. After the Islanders tied the game in the third, Cousins put the final stamp on the game with a goal 2:21 into overtime to give Arizona their second straight win.

Comeback of the Night:

Jason Zucker, Minnesota Wild: Zucker got drilled in the head with a slap shot in the first period and had to be helped off the ice. Miraculously, Zucker returned a short time later and went on to score the game-winning goal at the 4:59 mark of the third period, breaking a 1-1 tie in the Wild’s 3-1 win against the Ottawa Senators.

Highlights of the Night:

Granlund and Dumba:

Mrazek made plenty of saves on Monday and perhaps none better than this one (Brian Boyle‘s reaction is priceless):

Ottawa Senators fans will like this, even if the end result wasn’t great:

Auston Matthews had the celebration of the night:

Factoids of the Night:


Avalanche 4, Maple Leafs 2

Red Wings 3, Devils 0

Wild 3, Senators 1

Lightning 2, Blackhawks 0

Sabres 2, Flames 1 (OT)

Coyotes 3, Islanders 2 (OT)

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Lightning end three-game skid with 2-0 win over Blackhawks

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Jon Cooper called declared that his team was “out of sync” prior to Monday night’s game in Chicago.

It’s three words that haven’t been used at all this season to describe the Tampa Bay Lightning who, up until Sunday, was known as the best team in the NHL.

The Lightning came into Monday night nursing a three-game losing streak, another foreign concept for a team saw four of its players elected to the NHL’s All-Star Game this coming weekend.

But just as quickly as they dropped out of the top spot in the NHL — the Vegas Golden Knights assumed that throne for 24 hours after a win on Sunday night — the Lightning snatched it back in a 2-0 triumph over the Chicago Blackhawks in the Windy City on Monday.

For a team that perhaps forgot how to play with one another, they looked comfortable in each other’s company against the Blackhawks.

The game was tight for the most part, and it took the Blackhawks being caught napping shorthanded to break a 0-0 deadlock late in the second period as Chris Kunitz took advantage of a defensive mishap. 

Jake Dotchin’s wrister sailed wide, but Kunitz was allowed to waltz behind the net, pick up the loose puck and put it behind Jeff Glass, nearly untouched through the whole process.

The NHL’s top goalie once again lived up to the distinction as Andrei Vasilevskiy turned aside all 40 shots that came his way.

The Blackhawks put up 10 or more shots in each of the game’s three periods, including 17 in the second frame. But the All-Star netminder played and exceptional game, including stopping 10 out of 10 on the power play to keep Chicago 0-for-6 on the power play.

Yanni Gourde sealed the game late in the third with a blast to make it 2-0.

It’s a win Tampa needed, especially after finding out they’ll miss forward Ondrej Palat indefinitely.

The struggles continued for the Blackhawks, meanwhile.

Chicago has now been shutout twice in their past three games and is on a three-game skid with a 4-5-1 record in their past 10.

The Lightning could afford their losing streak. They’ve earned an opportunity to slide a little bit.

For the Blackhawks, another loss means another chance missed trying to survive in a deeply competitive Central Division.

The Blackhawks are hanging by a thread and time is running out quickly.

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

The Colorado Avalanche’s win streak hits double digits

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The streak is now in double digits.

The Colorado Avalanche won their 10th straight game on Monday night, taking down the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2.

Yes, that’s 10 wins by the team that ended last season with an NHL-worst 48 points.

Hockey is wonderful, isn’t it?

The Avalanche have been pretty darn good during that streak, outscoring opponents 41-16 during that span. Scoring four goals per game on average will win you more than it won’t.

And the Avs have had success on the back end. Jonathan Bernier has been completely lights out during the streak. He is on a streak of his own with nine straight wins, becoming the third netminder in franchise history to win nine in a row after Stephane Fiset (9) and Patrick Roy (11).

Colorado’s streak is also an NHL-best this season and it’s the second longest streak in Avs history (they won 12 straight during the 1998-99 season).

The Avs are sitting on 57 points, good for the second wildcard spot in the Western Conference.

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Jason Zucker takes a puck to the head (video)

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How in the world did he get up?

Too many players have been getting drilled in the head lately by slap shots. It’s an ugly site to behold whenever it happens

Somehow, however, Jason Zucker of the Minnesota Wild was able to pop right back up and head directly to the dressing room. No passing GO on this one.

The puck hit him so squarely in the helmet that it ricocheted back toward the Thomas Chabot, who uncorked the shot in the first place.

Even more insane is that Zucker was able to return to the game.

Talk about hard-headed.