Pittsburgh Penguins Penalty Kill Dissected

Pittsburgh Penguins(Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Pittsburgh Penguins(Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Penguins have a Penalty Kill Percentage of 89.5%, second only to Carolina, who leads the league with a PK of 90.1%.  The Penguins killed 40 consecutive penalties, over 15 games, until New Jersey scored on the Power Play, on Dec19.2021, breaking the Pens streak.

Pittsburgh’s PK is light years ahead of where it was a year ago, when they ranked 16th overall in the NHL.  This got me wondering why?  Let’s Dissect it and find out.

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The Penguins average 51.0% Faceoff Win Percentage, ranking 11th overall in the NHL.  As I have mentioned in previous articles, winning the Faceoff means, your team starts out with the puck.  This means you can control the play from the get go or implement set plays.  This also means, that you don’t have to spend time chasing the puck.  In a Penalty kill situation, possession allows you to take time off the clock immediately and disrupts the opposition offensive attack.


It’s been said many times before, however it’s worth saying again, “the goalie must be the best defender on the team, especially on the Penalty Kill.”  Tristan Jarry has been just that.  The best Defender in the Pittsburgh Penguins Line-up, by far.

Jarry ranks 3rd overall in the NHL with a 2.08 Goals Against Average.  He ranks 4th overall in the NHL with a .928 Save Percentage.  He also ranks 3rd overall in the NHL, with 19 Wins (as of Jan19.2022)

#35 has played awesome hockey since November 18.2021.  He has superb angle control and appears very confident between the pipes.  He has made some simply amazing, Matrix-like saves, keeping the Penguins in most games.  He is also limiting his stick handling overall as well as his time away from his crease.  He is a top candidate for the 2022 Vezina and was probably going to be Team Canada’s #1 goalie, if the NHL would have gone to the Beijing Olympics in February 2022.

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The Box / The Diamond

The Penguins set up in” The Box” formation, when penalty killing.  “The Box”, set up keeps the opposition to the outside in general.  They expand and collapse as the play dictates.  The Penguins also change very quickly to “The Diamond” formation.  This set up also keeps the opposition to the outside, however, it allows defenders to keep a closer tab on the opposition Wingers.  Again, expanding and collapsing, as the play dictates.  This fluid, interchangeable set up, has enabled the Penguins to be amongst the best penalty killers in NHL history.

The Players

Staying on the “Interchangeable” theme.  We have seen Head Coach Sullivan use numerous players on the PK, so far this year.  This was partly due to Injuries and Covid, however, this also gave others the opportunity to show what they can do.  This experience is invaluable and will come to fruition in the playoffs, when the Pens Coach can put out a variety of players, no matter the situation, with confidence the job will get done.

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Take a Stand

The Penguins constantly try to bunch up the middle of the ice, making it difficult for the opposition to enter the Penguins zone.  The Pens look to stand up to the opposition at their own blueline.  At this point of attack, outnumbering the opposition, allows the Penguins to take the body or stick check the opposition, causing a turnover.  The Penguins read and react well to the puck carrier.  In general, they are hard on the puck, always putting a body into someone and keep their sticks very active.  All these factors have led to the Penguins Penalty Kill Success to date.

My View from the Cheap Seats

The Penguins have been a machine this year, when it comes to killing penalties.  First, they don’t take many penalties and second whomever they put out there, can kill them.  It’s been a pure joy to watch players stay in their lanes, in both formations, the Box or the Diamond, and have success.  They have a lot of confidence with the puck, evident by the lack of run-around, tire fire drills in their own end.  Jarry has played great period.  And it’s always nice to see some Pittsburgh Penguin Puck Luck.

Quote of the Day:

I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.

Thomas Jefferson – US President