It is no secret in the early season that the Stars are taking way too many penalties and especially after Monday night’s game against Cale Makar, Nathan MacKinnon, and the Colorado Avalanche, it’s frustrating to watch.
First off, both teams played very well until the 3rd period when the Avalanche took over. Typically, but not always, a good measuring stick to see how a period went is to look at the shots on goal in the period. In the 3rd period, the Stars were outshot by the Avalanche 13 to 5; an almost 3 to 1 ratio. Off of the performances of Jake Oettinger and Jason Robertson, the Stars should have been able to pull off the win even though they were not the better team. The best teams are able to pull off wins even when they are not playing their best.
However, the big reason the Stars could not pull off the win was the number of penalties they have taken and are taking. As of November 22nd, 2022, Dallas is 2nd in the NHL in minor penalties taken with 85. In an 82-game season this year, they are on pace to take 367 minor penalties. You would have to go all the way back to 2008-2009 to find a season where the Stars took more minor penalties than their current pace (385 minor penalties).
So, what gives? Why are the Stars taking more penalties now than in previous years?
The number one explanation I’ve heard is using the type of system head coach Pete DeBoer has implemented as a scapegoat. When I first heard this, it absolutely made sense! When you’re more aggressive on the puck, you will take more penalties. Aggressiveness is the word that comes to mind when watching DeBoer’s style of play compared to Rick Bowness’ last year.
When DeBoer was introduced as the head coach at a press conference back in June, he talked about wanting to keep the defensive structure of the team, especially for the playoffs, but he “wanted to unlock some of the offensive potential of the group”. DeBoer’s system is the most aggressive system we’ve seen since the Lindy Ruff era.
So what did I do as a Stars fan? I wanted to know if there was any merit to this explanation, so I went and looked at the penalty stats of every NHL team DeBoer has coached as the head coach, and I specifically looked at minor penalties instead of penalty minutes. I figured looking at the number of minor penalties a team took in a season was a good way to determine the delinquency of a team. In most seasons, I expected Pete DeBoer’s teams to be in the top 10 in minor penalties taken. I was shocked by what the stats told me.
DeBoer’s head coaching career spans from 08-09 to the present. Other than the Stars, he has coached the Panthers for three seasons, the Devils for four seasons, the Sharks for 4 1/2 seasons, and the Golden Knights for 2 1/2 seasons. Here’s a chart of how his teams ranked with the rest of the NHL in minor penalties taken.
Surprised? I was. However, the numbers do not lie. Other than a half season with the Sharks (before he was fired) in the 2019-2020 season and the 2012-2013 shortened season with the New Jersey Devils, DeBoer teams typically rank not just in the bottom half, but in the bottom quarter of the league in minor penalties taken. So, the next time the Stars take 6 penalties in a game, remember. It isn’t DeBoer or his system!
So what is the problem?
I’m still working on that…