The NHL Playoffs and Penalties

Image courtesy of WikiMedia

Not long ago, we researched hit and face off differentials and their relationship with playoff performance, in both the same statistic and in goal performance.

As a fan of the Winnipeg Jets, who lead the league for worst penalty differential for much of the season, I find it a very interesting topic to research. More power plays and less penalty kills means a better team goal differential over the course of a season, by a significant amount.

Let’s take a look after the jump.

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Friday Quick Graph: Does puck possession affect penalty differentials?

Screen shot 2014-10-30 at 11.55.42 AM

Using data from, I grabbed the penalty and Corsi differentials for all teams for 5v5 score tied minutes. The whole point was to look at whether or not possession plays a role in a team’s penalty differential.

Above we see a weak but real relationship, with about 6.7% of penalty differentials being explained via possession.

From the regression curve, we estimate the average impact difference between a top and bottom possession team is about 11 penalties drawn per a season for 5v5 score-tied minutes. Of course, there is the opportunity to draw penalties for other team strengths and score situations. (The bottom/top difference is using the 40-60 rule)