The debate about using skilled players on the penalty kill has raged on since the dawn of the frozen game.
Ok, maybe raged is a little strong. Most coaches have their own beliefs when it comes to personnel on the penalty kill. Some believe it’s important to assign roles to every player on the team – thus, players either get to kill penalties or play on the powerplay once you reach a certain age or level.
But the skillset of those players is important to the PK as well. I think most of us would agree that speed, agility, and good edges are important tools for killers to have. Add in a good stick and the ability to read what the powerplay is doing, and you’ve got a strong profile for a penalty killer.
What about scoring goals?
But of course, noted sniper (checks notes) Ron Hainsey? Joining an odd-man rush on a penalty kill? A player like Ron Hainsey, known more for his defensive prowess than his offense, jumping into the play to cap off a shorthanded rush only happens because the coach is encouraging it.
So where does it start? With the benefit of multiple viewings and hindsight, the play develops because Hainsey is aggressive on Vancouver’s zone entry. Marner comes back hard through the middle of the ice and uses his stick to support the confrontation at the blue line. And once he chips in on defense, dude is gone.
Goal scoring is up in the NHL, and that’s a good thing for fans and coaches who don’t work in the league because it gives us plenty of evidence. According to Mitch Marner, Mike Babcock, and the Toronto Maple Leafs, every shift represents an opportunity to score. If you give the right personnel the freedom to try things like this then you might be surprised with the result.
Or you might get burned for a powerplay goal against.
Here’s another recent one from the dynamic duo in Edmonton. Watch how McDavid and Draisaitl take off as soon as the Oilers get control of the puck.
And one from the personal archives just because I love it so much.
From last week, in case you missed it…