Zdeno Chara's Boston Bruins have been shutting down opposing power plays at an incredible pace. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/NHLI via Getty Images)
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.
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