Analyzing the Early Season Penalty Kill for the New Jersey Devils

NEWARK, NJ - OCTOBER 10: Joni Pitkanen #25 of the Carolina Hurricanes and Nick Palmieri #12 of the New Jersey Devils collide as they go for the puck during the third period of an NHL hockey game at the Prudential Center on October 10, 2011 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

Only two games into the season and the Devils have given the fans plenty to buzz about. In the loss against the Flyers, the Devils looked like the Devils in the fall of '10. In the win against the Hurricane, they had a solid performance.  One thing to take away from both games was the unusual amount of penalties the devils took.  The Devils were not responsible and took an un-devilish 15 penalties in the first two games, a little inflated , no thanks to Clarkson.  Even with so many penalties, the Devils managed to have a stellar penalty kill.  One of the bright spot through both games was definitely the penalty kill.

The Devils will only be playing their third game of the season tonight, so why not analyze their penalty kill so far? As many of us know, the Devils have not given up a power play goal....yet. The Devils have killed off 16 penalties in two games. After the jump I'll take a deeper look at how the Devils have a perfect PK so far.


First I'll cover the penalty kill against the Flyers.  We had six minor penalties and two double minors that were near the end of the game.  Clarkson had a game high eight penalty minutes, a little undisciplined if you ask me.  Against the Flyers, the Devils allowed a total of seven shots over 14:11 of penalty kill time.  That is about one shot for each minor penalty.  If we can keep an opposing power play to one shot every two minutes, we will have one of the best penalty kills in the NHL. 

Now that In Lou We Trust has C.J. collecting scoring chances, we can see that the Devils only allowed four quality scoring chances!  Four scoring chances over 14 minutes is pretty impressive on the penalty kill. The main players on the penalty kill against the flyers were Zubrus, Josefson, Salvador, and Volchenkov. Overall, they were a solid penalty kill unit against an equally impressive power play unit.

 Pk_scoring_chances_flyers_medium

Now I'll cover the penalty kill against the Hurricane. Against the Hurricane, the Devils took seven minor penalties and had 9:16 of penalty time to kill.  The Devils again killed all seven penalties, but not as efficiently.  The Devils allowed only one less shot (6) in five less minutes of penalty kill.  The Devils allowed about 1.3 shots per 2 minutes, which is not much of a difference, but the scoring chances were what concerns me.  The Devils allowed six scoring chances in just over 9 minutes of penalty kill.

                Again, thanks to C.J., we have the scoring chances for the Carolina game. The Devils allowed six scoring chances on seven shots. The power play chances for Carolina were more abundant than the Flyers, but the Devils managed to allow zero power play goals.  The Devils also had a few different players on the penalty kill. They had the Salvador - Volchenkov combo with Zubrus and Mills for awhile.  They also tried the Tallinder - Fayne combo with a mix of Parise - Elias and Palmieri - Parise.

Pk_scoring_chances_canes_medium 

Combining the two games so far this season:

-          23:27 ice time on the penalty kill

-          0 Goals Against on 13 shots (10 scoring chances allowed)

It is early in the season, so it is a good thing that we are trying out a plethora of different penalty kill units, but the unit against the Flyers had a better showing than the one against the Hurricane.  The season is young, and the Devils' penalty kill is already looking promising, which can speak volumes about where the Devils will go as a team this season.  I'm sure there will be a little more juggling on the penalty kill, but I think this is definitely a strong start to the season for this half of our special teams.

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