Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Rat PIM Highlights – Update February 18th 2013

We recently celebrated Hockey Day in Canada and Hockey Weekend Across America.  The primetime telecast in Canada on Saturday, February 9th featured several 3rd period brawls between Toronto and Montreal.  That game gave me the motivation to update my theory on the correlation of fights per game and Rat PIM.  I thought that I would review a small sample of games involving the top teams in fight majors this season and see how they are doing in their honourable campaign to make the game safer.

My original post on Rat PIM showed a pretty strong link between fights per game and Rat PIM (total of the following types of penalties; Roughing, Slashing, Cross Checking, Major Penalties excluding fighting majors, Boarding and Unsportsmanlike).  I received some tweets and emails, along with a few comments on the post, that suggested I drill down and provide detail on Rat PIM for and against.  I think some of my readers have mistaken me for some fancy-stats person that drools over spreadsheets between posting pictures of cats on the internet.  Not that there is anything wrong with that….

While I don’t have the mental capacity or patience for the in-depth study they are suggesting, I thought that looking at some highlights of 10 games over the past two weeks would provide a snapshot of data.  Hopefully with enough of these types of updates we can pick out some trends that may shed more light on the impact of enforcers and Rat PIM.

Game Samples

Here is a summary of 5 games played on Hockey Day in Canada, February 9th.

Montreal and Toronto are both among the leaders in fighting and managed to pile up the Rat PIM in their game.  You could assume that the enforcers were out early trying to police the game and keep the Rats in line….but that would be incorrect.  Montreal had the majority of their Rat PIM in the first two periods while Toronto got out of line in the 3rd.  There were 3 brawls, all in the 3rd period, started by Prust from Montreal.  There was no apparent reason for Prust to fight Fraser other than frustration because his team was down by 4 goals.

The rest of the games were uneventful with no clear link between fighting and Rat PIM.  The only game that would be noteworthy would be Carolina, not known for fighting, being assessed a fairly high number of Rat PIM (5 minute boarding major and roughing).  Their opponent, Philadelphia, who is certainly no stranger to fighting didn’t do a very good job of keeping that game clean.

Here is a summary of 5 games played on Saturday, February 16th, part of Hockey Weekend Across America.

A fairly quiet night with only 1 fight among the 5 games reviewed, and no surprise that it was in the Columbus game.  Even more surprising was the lack of fighting in the Montreal – Philadelphia match.  Perhaps just the threat of enforcement kept everyone in line.  In all of the sample games the Rat PIMs were assessed to the teams that all embrace the enforcer role; Columbus, Toronto and Colorado.

League Report – Fights/Game & Rat PIM

The chart below provides a visual update on the Rat PIM for the current season, as of February 18th.   Full details for each team are included at the end of this post.

At this point in the season the correlation between fights per game and Rat PIM is not as clear cut as the last 4 years of data presented previously.  There is a subtle trend showing that Rat PIM are lower as teams fight less but there are anomalies that need to be looked at more closely.  Vancouver, among the league leaders in fights, has a Rat PIM total that is lower than 12 other teams. Perhaps they have very disciplined enforcers.  Pittsburgh, who is in the lower half of fights/game, leads all teams in Rat PIM primarily because of high totals in slashing, cross checking and boarding.

I’ll update this chart occasionally throughout this short season and try to drill down into some of the anomalies.  For now the link between fights and Rat-type penalties remains pretty strong - the more teams fight, the more Rat PIM they are assessed.  Dressing an enforcer means putting a less disciplined player on the ice who is taking penalties or their teammates suddenly feel emboldened and play with more of an edge.  It’s pretty obvious that the threat of a fight is not making the game cleaner. 

Rat PIM Detailed Stats

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