To Err Is Artyukhin

ARTHUR:

The Blues opened scoring last night on the man advantage after Evgeny Artyukhin was sent to the box for Tripping. I've made the joke before that Artyukhin was suspended for two games for hitting Antoine Vermette with his own helmet, but really he was suspended for one year to be served in two minute increments for the rest of his career.

The Ducks are 75%, 6 for 8, when killing off an Artyukhin penalty, and that's on par with their 21st in the NHL 74.4 overall kill percentage. But when you look at the penalties, the big Russian has only 2 Roughing minors (the penalties you assume will happen in the rhythm of his game), and the opposition has scored on neither. But his double minor for High-Sticking against the Rangers and his Tripping penalty to open scoring last night were both bad penalties which were converted in shutout losses.

Daniel, the referees are watching Artyukhin very closely. Should Randy Carlyle scratch him until he gets the needless penalties out of his game, or should the Ducks accept this as the cost of being in the Artyukhin business?

DANIEL:

My concern with scratching Artyukhin is that he is such a unique player. His combination of size and speed are literally unmatched. I don't think Nokelainan has the same presence along the boards or the break out speed, and that's who would end up taking his place on that line. If Ebbett were still around, you could put him on the second line and drop Christensen down. Lupul-Marchant-Christensen could still work well as an energy line; I'm just worried we might lose too much toughness.

I think this still comes back to the PK issue. Artyukhin will take penalties. Even if it's mundane penalties, we can't surrender goals on the first two penalties and then decide to kill. Yes, Artyukhin needs to learn to defend with his body and not his stick, but he will take penalties. And it shouldn't matter if it's Roughing or Tripping, it should be killed. I just think we're blaming Artie for a bigger problem.

 

ARTHUR:

Well I would agree with an argument that if the rest of the Ducks don't have to watch their bad penalties, why should Artyukhin?

But I think we're missing a lesson learned from Chris Pronger's playoff performance last year. Knowing he was facing a deadly power play with the Sharks, Prongs limited himself to one bad penalty, a Holding call, and two good Cross Checking calls to let the Sharks and Cheechoo know the front of the net wouldn't be friendly.

Pronger knew he was going to be watched closely (as usual), and he found a way to be clean AND effective. But he didn't become a teddy bear; he didn't refrain from taking the penalties he had to take. As a physical player, if you put a borderline check on a guy or you protect the front of the net, your teammates should be happy to kill that penalty. That's a strategic penalty that affects the way the other team plays. But if you're slashing and tripping guys, you're just disrupting your team's flow, and you can't expect them to be excited to back you up because you're too lazy to use your feet instead of your stick.

And I see your irrational love of Ebbett in your suggestion, but scratching Artyukhin would just mean going to a seven defensemen set where Mikkelson plays on the fourth line and Brown (or maybe Carter) sees time with Marchant and Lupul. The important thing is to send the message to Artyukhin, the other players and maybe even the referees that lazy penalties won't be tolerated from R2. Carlyle has used the healthy scratch as a coaching tool to send that message before; I don't see why Artyukhin would be immune from that treatment.

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