Takes and trash talk from both ALL sides of the NHL's most obscure PATHETIC* rivalry

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

This May Only Interest Me: Aggression Penalties

Dustin Brown led the league with 311 hits, which is all very cool. More important, however, was the fact that Brown led the league in hits while still being remarkably clean. I was bored so I took a look at the top 3 leaders in hits (Brown, Mike Komisarek and Brenden Morrow) to see how many "aggression penalties" (elbowing, roughing, charging, etc.) each guy got. The result? Brown's worth is enhanced by the fact that he gets his hits without taking additional penalties. As a bonus, he hardly ever takes himself out of the game through fighting and often goads the other fighter into additional penalties.

Dustin Brown

311 hits
55 PIM
3 Fights

Dustin Brown only had 6 minutes of "aggression penalties," 2 roughs and 1 elbow. He had 3 fights:

-against Eric Brewer, who fought Brown because Brown clicked him with a high stick
-against Daymond Langkow, who received a 2-minute roughing penalty (and got his ass kicked)
-against Brent Seabrook, who got an instigator penalty for rightly fighting Brown after Dustin elbowed Jonathan Toews

Brown's other penalties were for hooks and trips and the like. That's pretty remarkable that he can get that many hits without getting many penalties. It says to me that Brown is looking for the play, not the hit. He could cut down on his other penalties, but that negative effect is likely outweighed by his excellent ability to draw penalties.

Mike Komisarek

266 hits
101 PIM
5 fights

Mike Komisarek had 12 minutes in aggression penalties: 5 roughs and an instigation. He had 5 fights and didn't goad an additional penalty in any of them. In the playoffs, Komisarek had 10 aggression penalty minutes in 12 games. I guess he got a little excited. Overall, Komisarek is getting the job done with his hitting but he needs to reign it in a little bit to cause more impact. Plus, the dude could stand to stop taking so many penalties period. He is his team's best penalty killer but he's usually the one in the box.

Brenden Morrow

260 hits
105 PIM
5 fights

Morrow had 18 aggression penalty minutes: 4 roughs, 2 elbows, 2 charges, and a knee. Eclectic. Morrow had 5 fights and took an additional penalty in one of them while goading an instigator in one. The problem with Morrow, at least to me, is who he fought: Steve Bernier, Aaron Voros, Nathan McIver, Adam Burish, Ryan Suter. Morrow is way too valuable to the Stars to be wasting his time in the penalty box with Aaron Voros.

(The guy really needs to calm down when he's playing the Ducks. He had 18 minutes in penalty in the 8 regular season games against them, a lot of them while battling Francois Beauchemin. That kind of makes me laugh. I mean, of all the people on the Ducks, you hate Beauchemin?)

Hits are like stolen bases in baseball. Sure, it's nice number, but you have to understand that there is risk associated with it. It's great if a guy steals 50 bases, but if he's getting thrown out a third of the time then it's kind of worthless. In the same way, Brenden Morrow's positive impact is likely countered by his penalties that take him off the ice completely. Aggression is great, but only if it's controlled and dedicated towards winning the game. Guys like Komisarek and Morrow are BJ Upton; Dustin Brown is Ichiro.

*I expected the difference in aggression penalties to be a little more extreme, to be honest. It looks like amount of aggression penalties you take is proportional to the amount of other penalties you get. That might invalidate this whole thing, I don't know, but I spent the time looking this up so I'm throwing it out there. It's possible that guys like Brenden Morrow don't care about the number of penalties they take because they think the stuff they get away with makes up for it. Maybe?


RudyKelly said...

I guess I was right.

Earl Sleek said...

Hey, this is pretty nice analysis, Rudy. I'm not a guy who spends a lot of time examining the hits stat (seems subjective to me), but I think once you have a season's worth of data, the wrinkles sort of get ironed out and it's worth comparing the league leaders, as you did.

I don't think anyone's going to say that Komisarek or Morrow aren't valuable players, but this definitely shows an added asset that Brownie brings to the table.

Don't worry about the non-response, though, I've found that readers don't like thinking about numbers during the weekend. I know once I saw numbers I decided that it could wait until Monday.

Patty (in Dallas) said...

I don't follow Beauchemin that closely, but I think that's part of his job. To agitate Morrow.

Morrow's on the top line, and the only one that will fight, so his card is pretty full.

Earl Sleek said...

Well, I guess nobody cares on Monday, either.

Hey, while we're all statsy and stuff, I have a question that hours of internet searches haven't been able to answer, maybe somebody knows how to find it:

How many points did Scott Niedermayer score in the 4-game sweep 1995 cup finals (NJD over DET)?

I'll get into later why I'm looking for that, but I can't believe that this is a question that stumps the internet, can you?

Anonymous said...

Adjusted hits are a slightly better metric than the NHL's hits--


Brown still leads here, but Trent Hunter and Zdeno Chara now round out the top 3. Perhaps they would make better analogues?

Dallas is known for their liberal awarding of hits. Antti Miettinen racked up a 145 hit season 2 years ago, for example.

Morrow's PIMS have also decreased significantly over the years as he has become a leader and a first liner. I think he realizes that he needs to cut down on the penalties and I'd expect that trend to continue.

Earl Sleek said...

Adjusted hits are a slightly better metric than the NHL's hits--

That's an interesting list you've linked to, but I can't find an explanation as to why adjustments are being made and how they are being tabulated.

I haven't explored a ton, but any ideas what's being done? Interestingly, Brown got knocked down 60 hits (wow) but some of the Ducks on the list went up (Moen picked up six and Pahlsson picked up seven).

What's it all mean?

Earl Sleek said...

How many points did Scott Niedermayer score in the 4-game sweep 1995 cup finals (NJD over DET)?

BTW, we can call this search off. I finally found a box score source that goes back to 1994-95 (from Hawaii, no less).

Answer? 4 games, 1 goal, 3 assists.

Later this week: why I was looking for that.

Joe said...

Rudy wrote this post? Good stuff, thats pretty interesting.

Of course, I think most teams should just not take PIM's period, and follow the model of my Wings.

And yeah, Dallas does give hits pretty liberally. Remember when Brendan Morrow got like a billion in a single game, think it was the multiple OT game against SJ this playoff? He finished that game with like 30some hits or something, and the announcers were visibly jerking off about it.

RudyKelly said...

The things about the Wings is that they're not that great at not taking penalties, they just don't fight. In terms of times short-handed they're 13th. Of course, they have an awesome penalty kill so that helps.