Andrew Ladd: Perception or Reality?

Posted by Richard Pollock in Columns,Roster Analysis,Winnipeg Jets on March 22, 2012 — 4 Comments

A common complaint amongst Jets fans this season has been about Andrew Ladd; more specifically, Andrew’s Ladd apparent penchant for taking offensive zone penalties at apparently inopportune times.

Such complaints generally sound like this: “Andrew Ladd can score goals but he takes the stupidest penalties 200 feet away from our net and does it when the game is on the line.  What kind of a leader takes such stupid penalties?”

Is this actually the case? Or are fans more likely to focus on Ladd’s inopportune penalties because he is the captain and one of the team’s most highly paid players?

Instead of relying on perceptions, let’s dig beneath the surface and unearth the realities of Ladd’s penalty taking.

First off, let’s examine the Jets’ top penalty taking forwards with respect to minor penalties.

Player Total Minor Penalties
Blake Wheeler 21
Evander Kane 21
Nik Antropov 20
Andrew Ladd 19
Alexander Burmistrov 17

 

Most would admit that Andrew Ladd gets far more flack for his minor penalties than does the emerging Blake Wheeler.  It is for that reason that Wheeler will serve as a nice comparable under these circumstances.

There are four important variables to take into account when evaluating the two players and their respective penalty taking.  Before delving into those four variables, it should be noted that coincidental penalties will not be factored into the equation as these types of penalties do not lead to a power play advantage for the opposing team.

Period

As mentioned above, the perception is that Ladd takes all of his penalties at crunch time—aka the third period of play.  Well, let’s take a look at when Ladd takes his penalties, broken down by period and then examine the same for Wheeler.

Player 1st period 2nd period 3rd period
Andrew Ladd 3 7 8
Percentage 17% 39% 44%

 

Player 1st period 2nd period 3rd period/4th period
Blake Wheeler 4 6 6/1
Percentage 24% 35% 41%

 

As you can see, Ladd takes a tad higher percentage of his penalties late in games (3% more in the third period and overtime) than does Wheeler.  That is exactly one late period penalty differential.

Types of Penalties

Now we move onto the types of penalties Ladd takes.  The common perception is that his penalties are “lazy” penalties or “stick” penalties as some call them.

Let’s take a look at the specific penalties taken and classify them.

Player Hooking Hi-sticking Tripping Roughing Slashing Holding Interference
Andrew Ladd 2 3 2 2 4 4 1
Percentage 11% 17% 11% 11% 22% 22% 6%

 

Player Hooking Hi-sticking Cross-checking Tripping Roughing Slashing Holding Goaltender interference
Blake Wheeler 5 2 1 3 1 2 2 1
Percentage 29% 12% 6% 17% 6% 12% 12% 6%

 

Stick penalties will be classified as: Hooking, Hi-sticking, cross-checking, tripping and slashing.

Total percentage of Ladd’s penalties that are stick penalties: 61%

Total percentage of Wheeler’s penalties that are stick penalties: 76%

Score of the Game

You have likely heard this comment: “But not only does Ladd take penalties; he takes penalties when the game is on the line.”

While one could make a strong argument that the game is always on the line—we can consider score effects in our analysis.

Game Situation Up 4 Up 3 Up 2 Up 1 Tied Down 1 Down 2 Down 3 Down 4
Andrew Ladd 2 0 0 3 6 2 4 1 0

 

Game Situation Up 4 Up 3 Up 2 Up 1 Tied Down 1 Down 2 Down 3 Down 4
Blake Wheeler 1 1 1 4 4 4 2 0 0

 

Percentage of Andrew Ladd’s penalties taken in close games (defined as games that are tied or see either team up by a maximum of one goal):  61%

Percentage of Blake Wheeler’s penalties taken in close games (defined as games that are tied or see either team up by a maximum of one goal): 71%

Most NHL games are one-goal affairs—it seems like every game finishes with a final score of 3-2.  So, it is likely most NHLers tally their penalties in “close game” situations.  In any event, Wheeler has actually taken a higher percentage of his penalties in those situations than has Ladd.

Zone

The hottest issue amongst Jets fans is Ladd’s propensity to take, not only penalties, but offensive zone penalties.  Is that perception or is that reality?

Player Offensive Zone Neutral Zone Defensive Zone
Andrew Ladd 10 6 2
Percentage 56% 33% 11%

 

Player Offensive Zone Neutral Zone Defensive Zone
Blake Wheeler 8 6 3
Percentage 47% 35% 18%

 

So what does all of the above mean? Does it mean that Andrew Ladd is faultless?  That Andrew Ladd deserves no blame for his indiscretions as documented within this article?

Well, that is not the point.

The point is to provide context for fans.  Andrew Ladd takes penalties in the offensive zone, he takes penalties in the third period and he takes stick penalties.  While he is the captain and bears the burden of that responsibility, the fact other players do not wear such letters on their chest does not exonerate them from responsibility for their actions.

Ladd has become the whipping boy for the fans ire; however, the fans that chastise Ladd for his penalty taking should do the same for one of their favourites, Blake Wheeler.  As the facts above dictate, their penalty taking patterns are awfully similar.

Richard Pollock is the co-analyst of the Illegal Curve Hockey Show, airing Saturday’s from 12pm-3pm on TSN 1290. Follow him on twitter @ICRichyP

  • http://twitter.com/hartjacob66 Hart Jacob

    Great analysis. I would argue that although it is not a penalty of the stick, ‘holding’ is also a ‘lazy’ penalty

  • http://twitter.com/ICrichyp Richard Pollock

    Was thinking that as well.  If we did consider holding as part of that category, it’d still push them very close together in that category (within 5%). 

  • peg911

    My concern about Ladd has nothing to do with the penalties he takes.  It’s that he makes a lot of unforced giveaways.  No statistical analysis here but so often he seems to make many weak clearing efforts that leave us trapped in our defensive zone or soft passes that are intercepted when we are pressing offensively.

    But just when I am totally frustrated with him, he makes a brilliant rush, scores a must goal, stands up for a team mate, and looks like about as good a leader as you can find.  I just wish he was a bit more consistant.

  • http://twitter.com/TBonnar Timothy Bonnar

    Great post. Ladd is a very good hockey player and some of the criticism is silly. That said the timing of his penalties has been frustrating as they have seemed to kill momentum a number of times.

    I look forward to this team being deep enough to throw Ladd on the second line. I like him, but he is better suited for that kind or role.