As we are discussing player performances and the perceived increase in clutching/grabbing allowed in the NHL, I wanted to take a look at the number of these and all minor penalties in the NHL in the cap era. I found the minor penalty stats at:
Unfortunately the detailed minor penalty stats went as far as 2008-2009 season. So, I used the last 6 regular season to break down overall number of minor penalties and clutch/grab penalties. I define clutch/grab penalties as hooking, slashing, holding, holding the stick and interference.
The glossary is as follows:
Below is the main table for the minor penalties in the NHL:
Table 1. Summary of Total Minor penalties in the NHL
*12-13 is adjusted for 82 game season.
Figure 1. Total minors per year.
Figure 1 shows the total minors per year since 2008 with a linear fit. We see that the total number of minors kept decreasing since 2008 and also somewhat leveled off in the past 3 seasons.
If we look at the grab/clutch penalties:
Figure 2. Grab/clutch penalties by year.
We see that there is a decrease until 11-12 season. Then the past three seasons there is a slight increase in the calls.
I, next, took the 2008-2009 season as the baseline and calculated the change in total, clutch/grab, hook,hold,interference and slashing penalties.
Table 2. Percentage of Minor penalties normalized to 2008-2009 season.
Overall, the past 3 seasons are at about 80% level of 2008-2009 season total minor levels (rounded). We see the small increase in the clutch/grab penalties called in the past 3 seasons and the biggest contribution to that is the number of holding penalties called. Interference call in the lockout shortened season may be skewing the data (104 % of the 2008-2009 season), but the overall trend in the past 3 seasons seems consistent.
In summary, there is a 20 % drop in the number of penalties called in the past three seasons compared to 2008-2009 that seems to level of (some consistency by the refs in the last 3 years). The grab/clutch type of penalties dropped to 66 % of 2008 levels in 2011 and started to increase again mainly due to increased number of hooking and holding calls.
I have also looked at the mean, standard deviation and median penalties per team for these years and it seems they are constant with the total observations shown above.
It'll be interesting to see how the post-season numbers look, that will be part two!
I hope this small post with simple analysis would help to put our scoring in perspective. If same number of penalties were called this season as in 2008-2009 the Pens would have scored 78 goals in PP as opposed to 65 the scored this year. May be this could explain part of Sid's not reaching 114-120 points this season.