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Blog Entry

Blair Betts: The NHL's penalty killing specialist

Posted on: August 26, 2011 7:07 pm
Edited on: August 26, 2011 7:42 pm
 
Betts
By: Adam Gretz

There's a good chance Blair Betts won't be selected in many fantasy drafts this season.

He's spent parts of nine years in the NHL with the Calgary Flames, New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers, scoring just 41 goals in 477 career games. Nothing that really stands out as an extraordinarly productive hockey player, at least from an offensive point of view. But his role -- and his value -- can't be appreciated by simply looking at how many goals he scores, because he's rarely in a positition to score them.

Or asked to score them.

There are certain players in the NHL that have a specific skillset that allows them to fill one primary role which occupies the majority of their time on the ice. It could be as a power play specialist (a player like Marc-Andre Bergeron), a fighter (a player like George Parros), or in the case of Betts, a penalty killer.

In a typical game Betts will play no more than 10 minutes. During this past season, for example, Betts averaged just under 10-and-a-half minutes per game, with a large portion of that time coming in shorthanded situations. While averaging less ice-time than every regular forward on the Flyers not named Jody Shelley and Dan Carcillo, Betts not only led all Flyers forwards in shorthanded ice-time per game, he led every forward in the NHL.

Even more than that, the 30-year-old Betts spent a larger percentage of his ice-time killing penalties than any other forward in the NHL. By a wide margin.

During the 2010-11 season Betts spent over 34 percent of his total ice-time playing in situations with his team was down a man. To put that in perspective, if you were to look at the top-25 forwards that averaged the most shorthanded ice-time per game last season, the next closest forward was Anaheim's Todd Marchant at just over 27 percent. Betts' teammate, Darroll Powe, Edmonton's Colin Fraser and Pittsburgh's Craig Adams all came in at just over 25 percent.

Here's how the top-10 looked:

Penalty Killing Specialists
Player Shorthanded Ice Time Total Ice Time Shorthanded Percentage
Blair Betts 271:46 783.50 34%
Todd Marchant 285:08 1,049:59 27%
Darroll Powe 257:16 995:12 25%
Coiln Fraser 177:35 688:29 25%
Craig Adams 247:11 974:56 25%
Darren Helm 251:11 1,091:08 23%
Patrick Eaves 169:36 799:55 21%
Liam Reddox 130:38 659:50 19%
Lauri Korpikoski 239:21 1,226:44 19%
Max Talbot 239:50 1,235:34 19%

Since becoming a regular NHL player with the Flames during the 2003-04 season, he's consistently been one of the top penalty killing options on every team he's played on, with those units typically finishing near the top-10 in the league (the average finish of the team's he's played on in penalty killing percentage has been 9th).

It can be an extremely valuable, but thankless, role that doesn't bring much attention, and few players do it as often -- or as well -- as Betts.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Comments
kkjyywlpo
Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 16, 2011 12:12 am
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Oct 7, 2011
Posted on: October 19, 2011 4:03 pm
 

Blair Betts: The NHL's penalty killing specialist

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Since: Jun 8, 2009
Posted on: August 30, 2011 1:05 pm
 

Blair Betts: The NHL's penalty killing specialist

@Hojo13 - goals scored against while killing a penalty do not count against +/-, however, short-handed goals do...and Philly scored 13 times while short-handed (Betts himself got one). So, if Philly is scoring short-handed, but still allowing the 10th most power-play goals (which don't count against Betts' +/-), and Betts played "most of his time on the PENALTY KILL" (actually only 34% of a modest 783minutes), and he finished with a -3 (none of the negatives coming while he was on the "PENALTY KILL")...then how does he rank as an "awesome defensive player", never mind a "penalty killing specialist"?

So to answer your question Hojo, I'm pretty sure I've got a decent grasp on this - how about you? Teams definately need guys like Betts - but he isn't much more than a guy that can eat some 2nd unit penalty kill and 4th line minutes for a very reasonable price.




Since: Aug 25, 2009
Posted on: August 29, 2011 4:52 pm
 

Blair Betts: The NHL's penalty killing specialist

Yes, he was -3.....playing most of his time on the PENALTY KILL.  You do understand hockey right?



Since: Jul 14, 2008
Posted on: August 29, 2011 4:50 pm
 

Blair Betts: The NHL's penalty killing specialist

@NFCEASTFAN - He finished at -3 last season...hardly the worst in the NHL, but certainly not worthy of the praise you're so eager to bestow upon him

Plus minus can be misleading. Think of it this way - Betts played 75 games, and during his even strength ice time he was inevitably taking a face-off in his own zone, with the other team's best line on the ice. His line rarely scored - he had 12 points on the year. Given all that, a -3 is pretty damn great.



Since: Jul 17, 2011
Posted on: August 29, 2011 2:14 pm
 

Blair Betts: The NHL's penalty killing specialist

very underrated faceoff man as well



Since: Jun 8, 2009
Posted on: August 29, 2011 12:18 pm
 

Blair Betts: The NHL's penalty killing specialist

He is an awesome defensive player and does well keeping the other team from scoring
HUH??!!

@NFCEASTFAN - He finished at -3 last season...hardly the worst in the NHL, but certainly not worthy of the praise you're so eager to bestow upon him.





Since: Dec 22, 2010
Posted on: August 29, 2011 3:18 am
 

Blair Betts: The NHL's penalty killing specialist

I once saw Gretzky kill over 45 seconds without ever giving up the puck.
I saw Bobby Orr kill the entire penalty himself. 


 



Since: May 12, 2011
Posted on: August 28, 2011 7:41 pm
 

Blair Betts: The NHL's penalty killing specialist

Real hockey players!!! not another lame sidney crosby article



Since: Aug 29, 2006
Posted on: August 28, 2011 2:41 pm
 

Blair Betts: The NHL's penalty killing specialist

Glad to see an article about the grunts of the NHL. People like Betts and others like him dont get credit for how awesome they are preventing opponents from scoring shorthanded. Say what you want about Betts and the teams overall %. He is an awesome addition shorthanded. He cant pass well, he cant score well but he disrupts opportunites fantastically shorthanded. Every team has a Betts. He is an awesome defensive player and does well keeping the other team from scoring.


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