It's time once again to review the NHL's Penalty Plus/Minus leaders, as I've refreshed the data
up through the games of Sunday, December 3rd. Alex Ovechkin continues to lead with a +20 mark, followed by Sidney Crosby at +17 and Pavel Datsyuk with +14. Again, we see big-name talent leading the way here, as expected. All of these players give opposing defenses fits, so it's no surprise to see them getting hauled down more than other players.
On the opposite end of things, we see the lower part of the rankings dominated by defensemen, whose job it is to prevent scoring chances, and thus are sometimes forced into taking penalties when beaten by an incoming forward. In fact, 11 out of the 12 spots at the bottom of this list are defensemen. The rarity here is to find defensemen who are drawing a significant number of penalties more than they commit; that list is led by Calgary's Dion Phaneuf, Nashville's Dan Hamhuis, and the Islanders' Chris Campoli, who are all at +4.
As to the leading forwards who are taking excessive penalties and leaving their team shorthanded, Washington's Chris Clark (-11), Nashville's Jason Arnott (-9), and Phoenix's Dan Carcillo (-9) head the penalty box parade. Clark has managed to take charge here even though he's played only 17 games so far, so clearly someone needs some Anger Management counseling.
Feel free to pull down the data from the Google Spreadsheet
and see how your favorite team shakes out; as to the Nashville Predators, Radek Bonk comes in at +7, followed by Hamhuis, Vern Fiddler, and Jordin Tootoo who are all at +4. The previously-mentioned Arnott holds down the bottom at -9. Scott Nichol, who just drew a five-game suspension
for cross-checking Montreal's Patrice Brisebois in the face, is the next-lowest forward on the team at -4. In the past coach Barry Trotz has emphasized the need to stop taking more penalties than the opposition, but they can certainly do a better job there, starting with the team captain.