Why Officiating is a NHL Problem and Not a Penguins’ Problem

Penguins are not being targetd

It turns out the Penguins are not being targeted

By: Jim Meinecke

I had just enough time to throw together a quick post on a very hot topic…officiating in the NHL. After the last two contests against Detroit and New Jersey, fans are pretty upset with the officiating. Many fans believe there is a bias and that the league may be “out to get” the Penguins. I decided to do a little research and put this theory to the test.


Easy to see this a league problem and not a Penguins issue

Easy to see this a league problem and not just a Penguins issue

What I Did

I decided to make an excel sheet that detailed power play opportunities and times short-handed. I placed the Penguins on there and their rank each year, as well as the league leader in both categories. I also divided the totals by 82 (total games in the season) to get an average for power play opportunities and short-handed times per game. For this season, I projected the totals using current averages for the final 10-12 games. I also formulated the table over the last ten years since the lockout.


The had an expectation going into this that it was not a Penguins problem and the facts backed this up. That being said, I was even surprised by some of the data. The Penguins are projected to get 256 power play opportunities this season, which would be their lowest amount since the lockout in 2004-05. However, you will notice that the team with the highest amount of power play opportunities (Toronto) is projected to come in at the lowest amount for the highest team since 2004-05. The Penguins are near the top of the league in times short-handed this season, but that isn’t surprising given they have been the most penalized team in the league this year. Even with that, Winnipeg and Columbus are still projected to finish with more times short-handed. The main thing to focus on is the totals from 2005-06 to the present season. The Penguins finished that season with 495 power play opportunities, and that was good for 11th in the league! The highest team finished with 541 opportunities. That means if the highest team in Toronto finishes the year where projected in power play opportunities with 289, the change in a ten year period has resulted in a drop by over 250! It translates to a drop of about three power play opportunities per game. The same drop can be seen by the Penguins as well as the league leaders.

What It Means

I can totally understand fans being frustrated with the outcome of the past two games. As I mentioned last night and today, the non-call on Kris Letang last night was atrocious. However, the idea that the officials have it out for the Penguins is an absurd notion. The fact is that fans should be directing their anger at the league, and not the officials. When a change happens as drastically as this over the past ten years, it starts at the top and works its way down to the officials. They may be the ones making the call in the moment, or not making the call in this case, but they are clearly just following the directives of the league. It is not a coincidence penalties have dropped so drastically, and it is not a coincidence scoring is down in the league this year. It will be interesting to see how the league adjusts in the off-season because many of the games this season have been close to unwatchable with how little offense has been on display.

Thanks for reading!

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