Is Sammy Blais an integral part of a Rangers shutdown line?

The NY Rangers need to stop taking penalties. That is usually a given for any hockey team, but penalties are a part of the game and they do happen. Unfortunately for the Rangers, they appear to be happening more often than not. Part of that is the refs calling games similar to the 2005-2006 season. But most of it is the Rangers taking too many penalties.

Stick Penalties

There is a difference between stick penalties (holding, tripping, hooking, etc) and aggressiveness penalties (cross checking, roughing). Generally speaking, stick penalties are worse. It shows a team is getting beat and/or being lazy, thus relying more on their sticks instead of taking the body. Again this is a generalization, and obviously this not a 100% truth.

Breaking down the penalties taken in the four games thus far:

  • Washington: 9 penalties, 4 stick penalties
  • Dallas: 3 penalties, 1 stick penaltiy
  • Montreal: 3 penalties, 3 stick penalties
  • Toronto: 3 penalties, 2 stick penalties

High sticking is a mixed bag, so I am not counting them as stick penalties. So far, that is a total of 18 penalties, 10 of them being stick penalties. While much of this is exacerbated by the first game, it’s not a good look.

Individual Culprits

The initial reaction is that Barclay Goodrow is the biggest culprit. While he has two penalties, he does not have the most PIMs on the team. That belongs to Sammy Blais and Jaocb Trouba, although Blais has two penalties in the same sequence in Washington. Alexis Lafreniere also has a pair of penalties. In total, 11 different Rangers have taken at least one penalty.

Four games is nowhere near enough of a sample size to show long term concerns. However I did notice an extreme bias towards Goodrow, as his penalty last night was met with many tweets of “of course Goodrow” and charts showing he takes too many penalties.

Everyone will take bad penalties. That’s a part of the game. However for the Rangers, the penalties are pretty spread out.

The penalty kill is fine

Believe it or not, the penalty kill is fine. They had a bad game against Washington, which skews their success rate of 71.4%.

  • Washington: Six powerplays, three goals
  • Dallas: Two powerplays, one goal
  • Montreal: Three powerplays, no goals
  • Toronto: Three powerplays, no goals

PK% is not exactly the best metric for measuring penalty killing success, but it paints a part of the picture. It is worth noting that the Washington game has Alex Georgiev in net, and is also the Washington powerplay. Conversely, Igor Shesterkin stole the win last night.

The xGA rate at 4v5 is what matters more, which measures effectiveness of the penalty kill. The Rangers give up a rate of 6.31 xGA/60 on the PK, 12th in the league. Last year, that rate was 6.36. The year before was 8.11 (dead last in the league). The big improvement came before last season (note: No Lindy Ruff). This year is at least in line, if with a marginal improvement thus far.

Suffice it to say, the penalty kill concerns are a tad overblown. However the Rangers are still taking a few too many stick penalties. That should eventually even out over the course of 82 games. And perhaps this is putting too much into that Washington game. But fewer penalties are always a good thing for the Rangers. It is certainly an area for improvement.


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