Inside the NHL
A reader asked a quick question about last week’s column explaining that penalty-killing NHL teams can shoot the puck down the length of the ice without a “frost” being called.
“Can you please explain what ‘killing a penalty’ means? He asked me.
Realizing that the Kraken has many new hockey fans, I will continue to answer these questions where I can.
NHL teams are penalized for infractions serious enough to cause a player to be banned from the ice for a specific period of time. Typically, a minor penalty is two minutes while a less common major infraction is five minutes.
Once a player is sent off, he must proceed to the “penalty box” – a designated area with small benches for each team separated by glass – during the allotted time. Meanwhile, his team will only have four skaters on the ice (not counting goalies) compared to five for the other team.
Thus, the shorthanded team must then “kill” the penalty time until the player returns. And the team of five skaters is going “on the power play”.
Play will resume with a face-off deep inside the offending team’s zone. The power play team will attempt to take immediate possession and use the extra man to their advantage by passing the puck to the inevitably open one. And the team that “kills” the penalty will seek to gain control of the puck and gain time until the penalty expires.
The easiest way to land is to throw the puck all the way up the ice, forcing the power play team to pick it up and start over. Unlike regular 5v5 play – where this move would be called for a “freezing” stoppage and a deep face-off in the offending team’s area – such puck relief is allowed on a penalty kill.
By shooting the puck on the ice, tired players save time to skate to the bench. It also forces the power-play team back into the attacking zone without going out of play and you’d be amazed at how difficult that can be.
As you can imagine, NHL teams employ special team units specifically for power play and social disadvantage.
You will see the top playmakers and scorers on the power play unit. More recently, teams have grown to four forwards and a single defenseman on the power play, with advanced metrics showing it creates more goals.
The Edmonton Oilers had the best power play unit in the NHL last season, scoring 27.6 percent of the time. Not surprisingly, considering the Oilers employ two of the game’s top playmakers and scorers as the reigning league MVP, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.
As the Kraken learned the hard way in a 6-0 preseason loss to the Oilers last week, you’re not giving McDavid and Draisaitl too many chances on the power play.
Once a power-play team gains entry to the zone, assuming there is no immediate scoring chance, they will “settle in” by circulating the puck. Remember, he has an additional attacker and there should always be someone open.
Likewise, the shorthanded unit – usually made up of two defensive-minded attackers and two defenders – knows they can’t cover everyone. Thus, you will often see penalty killers in “box” or “square” formation with two men at the back and two at the front who take out the middle of the ice.
The goal killers in the front of this box keep an eye out for unsupervised players near the blue line so they don’t have too much time to lean into a lightning slap shot. And the guys at the back make sure the forwards on the other team don’t have the opportunity to score straight in front of the net.
Penalty units sometimes deploy a smoother “diamond” formation of one player in front, one in the back, and two on the sides.
You’ll almost always see a lot of power play going around the periphery of these kill formations. The faster and more precise the pass, the harder it is for penalty killers to defend themselves.
Remember the goal is for the power play unit to find an open man in a dangerous position to score.
So, as a penalty unit, defenders can’t just sit there like pylons because someone will always be open – they have to put pressure on passers-by to make mistakes or on shooters to make mistakes. hurry their explosions. They will try to intercept passes or block shots with their bodies.
A power play by any team other than the 2020-21 Anaheim Ducks will almost always have a hit or two from somewhere. But NHL goalies will generally stop all long-range shots unhindered. Thus, snipers will keep the front of the net clear by physically eliminating opponents and limiting shots to those on the periphery.
The league’s best penalty kicking unit last season belonged to the Vegas Golden Knights, who killed offenses 87 percent of the time. This is not surprising, as they employ center William Karlsson and wingers Reilly Smith and Mark Stone, some of the best two-way and checking forwards ahead of the game.
Karlsson also won 54% of the face-offs he took last season, which is crucial on the shorthand as it prevents the opposing power play from immediately settling in your zone.
The NHL’s worst shorthanded team last season with just 71 percent efficiency, the New Jersey Devils, couldn’t win a faceoff to save their life.
Fortunately, for teams like the Devils, NHL rules allow two-minute penalties for regular infractions like tripping, holding, picking, and checking to end automatically as soon as a power play goal is scored. Thus, if the goal occurs after 15 seconds, the remaining 1 minute 45 seconds of the penalty time are canceled.
If a team is penalized twice in a short period of time, they can face two men against a 5v3 power play. It happened at the Kraken in Edmonton last week and it only took the Oilers nine seconds to score. .
When this happens, the first penalty ends but the second continues.
There is no 5v2 power play as teams must always have at least three skaters. When teams take three penalties within two minutes, the third does not start until one of the first has expired.
But on the five-minute major penalties for more dangerous shots to the face, boarding, spearing and head contact, the offending player serves all the time, regardless of the number of goals scored.
This can be a serious problem, as the Golden Knights discovered in the 2018 playoffs when, ahead of San Jose 3-0 in the third period of Game 7, Vegas forward Cody Eakin received a five-score. minutes for cross-checking Joe Paveklski and leaving him. in a bloody heap on the ice. San Jose scored four goals in the power play that followed and knocked out Vegas in overtime.
Even the best snipers can’t stay here forever. So while the Kraken want to play an aggressive style this season, they will do their best to limit their shots on goal to the two-minute version – and, hopefully, the full two minutes rather than the abbreviated results.