Covering the puck, interference, stick taps to the gloves, late game whistles — referees are noticeably more picky to start the 2013 season. The refereeing calls to mind the return of the NHL in 2005-2006 following the previous lockout when the NHL cracked down on obstruction via holding and interference calls. The crackdown was widely viewed as a ploy to increase scoring and regain the interest of angry fans. Power plays per team per game jumped to 5.85, before falling back to 4.85 in 2006-2007. By the 2011-12 season the number dropped to 3.30.
Below is a table ranking all 30 NHL teams by number of penalties drawn per game.
|1||Detroit Red Wings||5.71|
|2||San Jose Sharks||5.57|
|3||Toronto Maple Leafs||5.57|
|5||Los Angeles Kings||5.50|
|8||Tampa Bay Lightning||5.00|
|12||New Jersey Devils||4.83|
|13||Columbus Blue Jackets||4.75|
|20||New York Rangers||4.00|
|22||St. Louis Blues||3.88|
|26||New York Islanders||3.43|
While the jump in power play opportunities hasn’t been as severe as it was in 2005, the league average has jumped to 4.36 thus far. Teams are, on average, seeing one additional power play per game in 2013 compared to 2011-12.
Last year’s best team at drawing penalties, the Flyers, had an average of 4.08 power plays per game. Through the first few weeks of the 2013 season, 17 teams are drawing more than 4.08 penalties per game, and 4 other teams are drawing 4.00. The St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild, 23rd and 24th in penalties drawn thus far, would have ranked 2nd in the league last season. Not only will luck play more of a role in the compressed 2013 schedule, as long as the refs are quick on the whistle, special teams will play more of a role as well.