Before the New York Rangers’ game in Vancouver on Tuesday night, coach John Tortorella gently reminded his team that it was taking too many penalties. Specifically, he made his players do push-ups when defenseman Jeff Woywitka tripped a teammate in practice.
“We have to be more disciplined,” Tortorella told reporters. “We’re a smart enough team to play our game the way we should play with discipline.”
After which his team put itself shorthanded eight times against the Canucks.
Two nights later in Calgary, it was five times.
Fortunately for the players, the Rangers won both games.
Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, coach Peter Laviolette was preaching the same message prior to the Flyers’ game with the Senators on Tuesday. He called his team’s parade to the penalty box to start the season “unacceptable.”
After which his team put itself shorthanded five times against the Sens.
Two nights later versus Washington, it was six times.
The Flyers hammered Ottawa, but lost to the Caps, 5-2.
This morning, Philly defenseman Kimmo Timonen addressed the penalties issue once again.
“Obviously, we talk about that almost every game, that we need to cut back on penalties and if we can minimize the penalties to four or five or whatever that is, that’s great, but anything that goes over four or five, that’s killing the bench,” Timonen said, as per Tim Panaccio at csnphilly.com.
Even four or five penalties can be too many, especially against a team like Washington, which scored its fourth goal (courtesy Alex Ovechkin) with the man advantage, snuffing out any chance for a Philly comeback.
Further proof of the importance of staying out of the box came last night when the Lightning beat the Islanders, 4-1. Tampa Bay, which had put itself shorthanded a ridiculous 37 times in its first six games (five of them defeats), only had to kill two penalties against the Isles.
“We were spending the whole game in the penalty box,” Lighning coach Guy Boucher said after last night’s game. “We just needed to put it all together. And that’s discipline. It’s total focus. That’s what we were lacking in the last games.”
Most times shorthanded per game:
NY Rangers — 6.2
Philadelphia — 6.0
Tampa Bay — 5.6
Least times shorthanded per game:
Florida — 2.6
Detroit — 2.8
Chicago — 2.8