Stealing Tactics & Intangibles from the Best Penalty Kill in the NHL

Courtesy NHL.com

Kelvin Cech

Steady contributor in multiple roles over the years at the coaches site, current head coach of the West Van Warriors Academy U18 Prep Team, former MJHL coach of the year with the Winkler Flyers and assistant coach with the UBC Thunderbirds Men's Hockey team.

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When all else fails and you're faced with a difficult challenge despite your earlier choices, it all comes down to intangibles.
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Killing penalties is like reading a choose your own adventure novel. You’re in for a challenge no matter what page you’re on, and depending on your choices, those challenges can result in the euphoria of climbing a mountain to victory, or the anguish of falling off a cliff in defeat.

Let’s take this analogy further because I haven’t thought about those books for 30 years and this is good stuff. Let’s say you turn to the page on which your team takes no penalties. Great! Except the players are passive and easy to play against, and all of a sudden you’re reading the chapter for losers. Ok, you choose to play aggressive, no prisoners hockey. And then you’re killing all night and your primary killers are exhausted by the 3rd period, they miss an assignment, and you lose the game.

The best approach is to play hard, aggressive, and take zero penalties, but if it was that easy then the best teams on earth would have it completely figured out. It’s not realistic, but the one team that was closest to that formula in the first month of the 2021-22 season is the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Here’s why and what you can learn from it.

When all else fails and you're faced with a difficult challenge despite your earlier choices, it all comes down to intangibles . . .

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