The Penalty Kill has really been the one sore spot on the league leading Chicago Blackhawks.
How bad? If you’re looking at just the surface, very bad. The Blackhawks are ranked 29th out of 30 teams, in the NHL, having only killed off a dismal 74% of their penalties.
Let’s look beyond the surface, and dig a little deeper into the Blackhawk’s less than stellar Penalty Kill. The shovel that we will use to dig deeper will be 4 on 5 Corsi Against per 2 minutes.
Corsi is (Shots on Target For + Missed Shots For + Blocked Shots Against ) – (Shots on Target Against + Missed Shots Against + Blocked Shots For). Basically Corsi is a more refined stat for shots on goal, that also measures quality puck possession. The higher the corsi number, the more likely a team is t score goals, and eventually win games.
Since we are talking about Penalty Killing, we will exclusively look at Corsi Against, in 4 on 5 shorthanded situations, per 2 minute rates. Basically this will show us how many attempts towards the net, the Hawks, and the rest of the NHL are giving up, while on the typical, one man shorthanded Penalty Kill situation.[table “25” not found /]
The Hawks being ranked 17th, in this category, isn’t great, but it isn’t terrible either, it’s ever so slightly below average. With a team that excels so heavily in every other area of the game, an average Penalty Kill is more than enough to get by. However it is still startling when considering just how far the Hawks have fallen, a man down, since last season.
If the Hawk’s skaters are allowing only the 17th most attempts on net, a man shorthanded, in the NHL, then how exactly are they ranked 29th in Penalty Killing Percentage?
This leaves only one possibility. A hockey team’s most important penalty killer, the goaltender. Could that be what’s dragging the Blackhawks’ Penalty Kill to the depths of the leagues worst?
Let’s take a look at Team Save Percentage, in 4 on 5, shorthanded situations.[table “26” not found /]
While the Hawks are doing an average job at limiting attempts on net, while shorthanded one man, a high percentage of those net attempts make their way to the back of the net.
Corey Crawford and company, will have to dramatically improve their play, while shorthanded, if the Blackhawks’ Penalty Killing Percentage is to climb to an at least respectable ranking.
No, this isn’t necessarily all on the goaltenders. This could very well be an issue with screens. Whether it’s the Hawks’ skaters inadvertently screening their goaltender, or it ‘s the opposing teams finding copious amounts of success in screening the Hawks goaltenders, screens definitely are a culprit in the case of the Blackhawk’s poor Penalty Kill, this season.
The Blackhawks are doing plenty, on the ice, to make up for the awful Penalty Kill. but definitely remains a concern that needs to be addressed. This could very well end up being the Achilles heel that prevents the elite Blackhawks from winning back to back Stanley Cups.