They say killing penalties at an 80 percent clip is what every NHL team should shoot for. But through the first four-plus weeks of the season, PK units across the league have been doing much better than that.
There are three teams – Florida, New Jersey and Montreal – with power play success rates below 10 percent (that’s not a typo) and three squads killing penalties at better than 90 percent (also not a typo). More than two-thirds of the league is hitting that 80 percent benchmark so far. Here are the 10 best penalty-killing teams to date.
The Flyers are your classic ‘Know Your Role’ team. Sure, Chris Pronger and Mike Richards kill penalties, too – but Blair Betts, Kimmo Timonen and Darroll Powe do most of the heavy lifting. Each averages more than 4:00 per game a man down. Claude Giroux leads the league with three shorthanded markers.
Who ever said Mike Green was defensively deficient? Not Bruce Boudreau, apparently. Green is No. 2 on the Caps in shorthanded time on ice with 3:08 per game. On the other hand, Alex Ovechkin will have to work pretty hard for shorthanded goals this year. His per-game average? A microscopic 0:01 – one second, folks.
The Wild like to spread the love a little more when shorthanded. Four blueliners average more than 3:00 per game – but none more than 3:42 – and five forwards more than 2:00. Center John Madden leads the way among forwards at 3:32.
For all the talk of Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg’s two-way acumen, the duo averages just 1:06 and 0:44 of shorthanded time per game. It’s the bottom-six guys – Darren Helm, Patrick Eaves, Drew Miller, Dan Cleary – who kill the majority of the penalties the Wings take, joined, of course, by Nicklas Lidstrom and his 3:31 average.
Blueliner Brooks Orpik is the man here with 3:59 a game shorthanded, which is 3:07 more than Evgeni Malkin has spent killing penalties all season. One way to get ‘Geno’ off the schneid might be to give him more responsibility when playing a man down.
The second-worst power play in the league (7.8 percent) is made up for somewhat with a top-five penalty kill. Hal Gill and Josh Gorges are the workhorses; both average about 1:40 more than the next closest Montreal defender. Among forwards, Jeff Halpern, Tom Pyatt and Tomas Plekanec play key roles.
Another bottom-three power play (8.1 percent) finds a home here in the top five penalty kills. No Cat averages 3:00 shorthanded per game and only Mike Weaver (2:47) even approaches the mark. Nine Panthers average more than 1:00 per game killing penalties and Stephen Weiss (0:51) is nearly there. This is a real ‘Kill by Committee’ team. Florida is also the league’s least-penalized club, averaging 7.2 minutes per game.
Everyone except Steve Downie (0:03), Mattias Ritola (0:00) and Teddy Purcell (0:00) gets a chance to kill penalties for Guy Boucher’s Lightning. Of the other regulars, Vinny Lecavalier averages the least amount of shorthanded time (0:40), while blueliner Mike Lundin (3:51) leads the way.
At or near the top of the ladder in the West, the Kings have been royally killing penalties all season. The King of Kings when a man down has been Willie Mitchell, who has averaged 4:23 of shorthanded time per game. With Mitchell gone for at least a month due to injury, expect Drew Doughty (2:11) to play a bigger role on the PK.
The Bruins have given up just three goals in 42 shorthanded situations, including just one on the road. Not surprisingly, Zdeno Chara (3:42) leads the way. What is surprising – for a Claude Julien squad, anyway – is that rookie Jordan Caron clocks in at 2:48, which puts him second amongst Bruins forwards. The more-heralded rookie, Tyler Seguin, has seen just 0:22 of penalty-kill time all season.
The THN.com Top 10 appears Wednesdays only on TheHockeyNews.com.
If you enjoy this feature, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine for the exclusive countdown, Starting From 5, and other great features from the world of hockey.