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Ducks Stat-urday: The Media's Resurrection of the Dirty Ducks

Robby's still pissed about the Joe Thornton hit on Kyle Palmieri and the media's resurrection of the Dirty Ducks.

Christian Petersen

Although it’s been a mostly good week (beating San Jose and Chicago is always fun), I’m still a bit pissed about the Joe Thornton hit on Kyle Palmieri that the rest of the NHL pretty much ignored. And it’s not just that the hit went ignored, but when when Corey Perry hit Jason Zucker, the hockey media went into full-throated outrage mode. It’s that difference in reaction that I find so infuriating. But I guess I should expect it. After all, the Ducks are dirty™.

But that moniker hasn’t really been appropriate since the Cup year. Anyone who objectively watches hockey games could tell you that this is not the same team that manhandled the rest of the league en route to the first Cup victory in California history. But it’s a label that has stuck, and one that continues to haunt us, despite all available evidence to the contrary. And apparently, Bruce is sick of this as well. We don’t get the benefit of any calls, and our guys frequently get abused out without any retaliatory action (see Shane Doan on Cam Fowler, Keith Yandle on Corey Perry, Mark Giordano on Bobby Ryan, Jaret Stoll on Fowler, and Raffi Torres on Palmieri).

When I first joined the staff a few years ago, one of my first posts was about the way the zebras called penalties for and against the Ducks in the 2010 and 2011 seasons. Without reproducing much of my earlier work here, the gist is that the Ducks were a team that was often penalized without ever getting any return calls. I wonder if this has changed since then.




PP Opps




PP Opps Rank




PP Opps/G




NHL Median PP/G




Times Shorthanded




TS Rank








NHL Median TS/G




Per Game Differential




* Stats as of Thursday, March 21

There’s a lot to digest here, so let’s break it down into a few trends/observations:

  • We apparently were favorably looked upon by the refs in 2011-2012, as we were awarded PPs at a more equitable rate that season than any other in the past few years. Hence, we also posted our best PP/PK differential on a per-game basis.
  • That shorthanded rank pretty much tells the tale of Ducks woes. Although it’s much lower this season, the fact that we’re getting so viciously shafted on PP opportunities pretty much nullifies this. Given that the same number of times shorthanded per game is consistent from last season and this season, but our rank has dropped considerably, we can infer that penalties are up league-wide this year.
  • And given that penalties are up league-wide, the fact that we rank 29th (!!!!!!!!!!!!) in PP opportunities is so incredibly maddening. We’re finally getting some credit from the zebras in terms of calling penalties against us, but they just refuse to give us any sort of man advantage. We’re literally getting almost a full PP opportunity less per game than the NHL average. For a team that excels on the PP and struggles on the PK this year, that -0.62 per-game differential really hurts. Just imagine what we could be doing if this rate was closer to last year’s.

Penalties only tell one side of the story. Let’s look at the number of Ducks players suspended over the the past three years (including playoffs) and how that stacks up against the league’s worst offenders.


Times Players Suspended

Philadelphia Flyers


Pittsburgh Penguins


Phoenix Coyotes


Chicago Blackhawks


New York Islanders


Anaheim Ducks


Either the NHL has a thing against teams in cities that start with a "P," or the Flyers, Penguins, and Coyotes like to engage in some shenanigans. Given our aforementioned history with the Coyotes, let’s just say that it’s probably the latter. While the Ducks show up at sixth with players suspended on five occasions over the past three years, it’s worth noting that Boston, Buffalo, Minnesota, and Vancouver have all had players suspended five times over that span. And in case you’re keeping track at home, the suspended Ducks (in chronological order) are: Bobby Ryan, Jarkko Ruutu, Jean-Francois Jacques (x2), and Corey Perry.

Taken together, it certainly doesn’t seem like the Dirty Ducks moniker should still apply. Our suspensions do not lead the league, and we’re actually finally seeing some movement from the refs in terms of penalties called against us. That said, how the hell do you explain the dearth of PP opps? Did the Samuellis do something in particular to piss off the NHL this year? WTF?

At any rate, perceptions often become reality, and it’s going to take time for people to stop seeing us through the "dirty" lens. It certainly doesn’t help that the hockey world is only too willing to throw us under the bus anytime something controversial happens, while simultaneously ignoring dangerous plays against our own guys.