The St. Louis Blues have played some great hockey in 2016-17 as well as some really, really bad hockey. The one lone consistent area of their game this season has been taking a ton of bad penalties.
The Blues lead the league in total penalties committed (108). The Blues are fourth in the NHL in average number of penalty minutes per game (11:45) which is pretty shocking considering the Blues only have seven major penalties on the season (12th in the NHL). As if those stats aren’t frustrating enough, the Blues are second in the NHL with five bench penalties – the most annoying penalties one can possibly commit.
What does all of this mean? An enormous amount of penalty kill time. Thankfully, the Blues have risen to the challenge and have killed off 88.1% of their penalties (third in the NHL), but the fact that they have been short 84 times (most in the NHL) is a recipe for disaster over a long enough stretch.
Following their recent game against the Washington Capitals, Ken Hitchcock called out the fact his team is taking too many penalties and even went as far as to say it’s the same players sitting in the box.
“Dumb penalties again. That’s a discipline problem. It’s not role players that are doing it. We’re having the same people hurt us, taking penalties.”
Hitchcock’s comments make it seem like the penalties are only being taken by a handful of players, but the problem seems to be a bit larger. Eight Blues players have taken six or more minor penalties. Kyle Brodziak and Paul Stastny lead the way with eight minor penalties each. David Perron and Kevin Shattenkirk are just behind with seven each.
Hitchcock states the problem isn’t the role players, but Brodziak fits under that label. As far as the other role players, Ryan Reaves and Scottie Upshall aren’t even on the radar as far as minor penalties go. While we’re looking at the roster, it’s worth noting Vladimir Tarasenko has only taken one minor penalty this season.
The problem with the Blues and their penalties is that there isn’t just one simple solution considering so many players are regularly spending time in the box and they’re all doing it through a variety of bad plays. The whole roster needs to be more aware of their game and realize that every little hook or slash is being called at this time. The play style needs to adapt to avoid putting so much pressure on the PK.