Wednesday, January 21, 2009

"Guys are going to start losing their penalty killing jobs if they don't start getting with the program.."

That's what Bruce Boudreau had to say about the penalty killing for the Caps after the team gave up three in a 3-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators last night. Small wonder - that's eight straight games giving up at least one power play goal.

32 for 44 over that span -- 72.7 percent.

16 Caps have been on the ice for at least one power play goal against over the last eight games.

Four Caps have been on the ice for at least five of the 12 -- Karl Alzner (eight), David Steckel (seven), Brooks Laich (five), and Jeff Schultz (five). Steckel (healthy scratch against the Islanders) and Schultz (two games missed with an injured finger) have missed time in this stretch. Schultz, though, has been on the ice for all of his five power play goals against in the last four games -- on ice for five of the last six power play goals scored against the Caps.

All four of the players mentioned have been on the ice for at least one 5-on-3 power play goal scored against; Laich has been on for two of them.

In terms of goals allowed-per-minutes played on the penalty kill, Steckel has had the worst number, on ice for one power play goal for every 4:10. Schultz isn't far behind (4:18), nor is Alzner (4:35). Laich has been on for a power play goal against approximately every six minutes of penalty killing ice time.

Is it their fault? Penalty killing is as much a team effort as anything in hockey, but the fact remains that bad things have happened -- often -- when these four have been on the ice in that role. But we're not sure which is worse, the high numbers these four have or the fact that 16 different skaters have been on the ice for at least one power play goal against in the last eight games.

The coach is right...""If the [penalty kill] doesn't start getting better, [they're] not going nowhere."


NBBear said...

Seems to me looking at individuals on ice isn't enough info to make any conclusions. I think you need to look at groups of players on ice for the PK. Seems that Boudreau is using a lot more players for PK duty this year, and that there are fewer consistent combos such as Gordon/Steckel, Laich/Bradley, etc.

The Peerless said...

That's why we made reference to penalty killing being a "team" effort. But that said, one thing that was interesting to us was that in this eight-game stretch of futility, the Caps have surrendered as many power play shots as they have taken (70).

I would expect as proficient a power play as the Caps to get their shots; they are fifth in the league in power play success. But they've surrendered a lot of shots to teams without that kind of success: Pittsburgh (12 shots, 20th on the power play), Columbus (11, 30th on the PP), Montreal (13, 23rd on the PP). Ottawa had 13 shots last night on six opportunities.

Teams are getting too many shots on the man advantage. That might be the forwards allowing players to get into space to take shots, it might be defensemen not tending to their business in deep, it might be a combination of things conspiring to keep the Caps from getting the puck out of the zone cleanly.

Whatever, teams are getting too many chances with the puck.

Anonymous said...

Who can we turn to, though? Are there players we could be using but aren't? Or do we go shopping for PK guys at the deadline? If so, who stands out as someone both available and worthy of making room for on our loaded bench?

Oops... I ran out of question marks...

Lee (PTO)

Dougeb said...

Peerless, what are your suggestions to yield the improvements? Is it the people or the system?

The Peerless said...

Maturity. The guys getting the big minutes are pretty young, both in years (the oldest is Steckel at 26) and experience (Laich is the only one with more than 200 games of experience). Consistency and will are perhaps the two biggest concerns with young players, and those attributes seem important to power play success.

The problem is, will their (and their teammates') maturity catch up with the urgency of having to improve this aspect of their games? If it doesn't, this will still be an average-to-poor penalty killing team at the end of the year.