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Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s penalty differential pickle

Yes, he’s taking more penalties than usual this year.

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at San Jose Sharks Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

I’m not the first to notice Marc-Edouard Vlasic seems to be taking more penalties this year than in years past and frankly I’ve had enough people ask me about it on Twitter that I don’t know who to credit with the idea. So let’s keep it simple: yes, Vlasic is taking more penalties this year.

In 5v5 play, Vlasic has taken six penalties and drawn one. The ratio isn’t particularly concerning nor surprising. As a defender, Vlasic is prone to take more penalties than he’ll draw; the issue, such as it is, for Vlasic this year is the quantity. To be clear, I don’t think this whole thing is necessarily a problem anyway, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

The six penalties taken by Vlasic are tied for the third-highest count of his career. He took six last season and six in 2009. His highest mark, 13, came in 2012 and he took 10 in 2008. That count is illuminating, but not all that informative. To better compare this year to other years, we need a rate state.

I can’t imagine I’m the first person to use penalty’s taken per 60 minutes, but someone should really come up with a spiffier name. Let’s go with PT60 for our purposes. It’s still a terrible name, but at least it’ll be obvious what I’m talking about. Unsurprisingly, given that we’re only 21 games into the season, this is Vlasic’s worst rate of his career. By a lot.

Vlasic is taking 1.0124 penalties per 60 minutes. That’s slightly more than double the second-highest rate of his career. His rate since the 2007-08 season is just 0.3264 — so yeah, this year certainly looks like an outlier so far. Of course this doesn’t answer the why. Frankly, there might not be an answer.

We’re talking about six penalties. That’s not many. The penalties I’m talking about all came at even strength — I think that makes years easier to compare. Let’s visualize this data, just so you can get a very clear idea of where this year ranks. Plus, we can see any potential trends by sorting it on an annual basis. Fun!

Survey says: NOOP! Yes, this year has taken a turn for the worst in Vlasic’s discipline, or whatever, but there’s not really any reason for concern here. if you look at his top three rates you’ll find they happened in 2017, 2012 and 2008 — nothing about that suggests a trend. It’s certainly possible Vlasic has taken a major step back and will start paying rent in the penalty box this year. I just kind of doubt it.