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Zidlicky blames ‘new NHL’ for high PIM total

Tampa Bay Lightning v New Jersey Devils

NEWARK, NJ - FEBRUARY 26: Marek Zidlicky #2 of the New Jersey Devils skates in warmups prior to his first game for the Devils against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Prudential Center on February 26, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Bruce Bennett

Marek Zidlicky leads New Jersey this season with 42 penalty minutes -- and is fifth among NHL defensemen with 21 minors taken -- but insists it isn’t all his fault.

From the New Jersey Star-Ledger:

“It’s not cool to get a penalty when you just touch the guy with your stick,” Zidlicky said after Monday’s practice. “One time I touched somebody at the glass and he fell down and a penalty is called. That’s tough. I just touched the guy.”

Zidlicky blames his penalties on what he calls the “new NHL,” which he says now has officials calling penalties for things he previously could do when defending opponents.

“They’re looking for more power plays in the games,” he says.

An interesting theory (and an archaic one, considering I haven’t heard “new NHL” in like five years), but one that Devils head coach Peter DeBoer essentially rebuffed. DeBoer told the Star-Ledger that, upon acquiring Zidlicky from Minnesota in Feb. 2012, he was warned about the defenseman’s penchant for taking penalties.

“I remember talking to Jacques Lemaire when we acquired him,” DeBoer said. “Jacques had him in Minnesota. He said, ‘As long as he gets the first minor penalty out of the way in the first period, he’ll be fine after that.’”

In last night’s 3-2 OT loss to Philly, Zidlicky went penalty free -- his fourth consecutive game without going to the sin bin. So I guess things are looking up.