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When It Comes to Penalties, Scott Hartnell's Really Not So Bad

The one major problem people seem to have with Scott Hartnell is that he's just a stupid hockey player. Yeah, he has skill, works hard, and gives you everything he has, but he takes a ton of terrible penalties along the way.

I've heard the saying "it's easy to kill off the good penalties, but not so easy to kill off the bad ones." Well, Hartnell certainly takes bad ones. As if we didn't know by just watching the games, nine of his 24 penalties this season were stick infractions such as hooking or slashing. One was an unsportsmanlike minor and one was a delay of game call. Six were roughing minors and the rest were obstruction-like calls such as holding and interference. So yeah, the majority of his penalties are just stupid ones to take.

I did some quick number crunching to find out just how badly those penalties hurt the team, in terms of goals scored on the ensuing power plays, and while I went in to the experiment expecting to find just how badly Hartnell hurt the team, I was surprised to find that it wasn't really all that bad.



By my count, Hartnell has taken at least one penalty in 17 different games. On four occasions, he's taken more than one penalty in a game, including a four penalty outing against Carolina back on Halloween. But of those 24 penalties taken, the opposition only scored four goals on the following man advantages.

The Flyers had a 1-3 record in those games, but none of those four goals were of the game-winning variety. After the first goal was scored with Hartnell in the box on Long Island back on November 25, it was in fact Scott who scored the game-winning goal later in the third period. On December 5 in an 8-2 rout at the hands of the Capitals, the goal scored following Hartnell's slashing minor was the eighth of the game and, for all intents and purposes, completely meaningless. Last night, Hartnell's tripping penalty led to Florida's first goal. You could argue that the goal hurt the Flyers psychologically, but to tie it to the 4-1 loss is really not possible.

In reality, you can point to just one occasion all season long where Hartnell cost his team a point in the standings due to a stupid penalty. Last Thursday against the Penguins, his second period hooking penalty led to a game-tying goal by Sidney Crosby in a game that Pittsburgh eventually won in a shootout.

Scott Hartnell might be stupid, but his stupidity doesn't hurt the Flyers nearly as much as we'd like to believe.