"Much has been said about the numerical improvements in the penalty kill ... Nearly a quarter of the way through the season, the Capitals have maintained their commitment to sustaining the improved penalty kill[.]" - Capitals Insider, 11/19/10
There's no doubt that a big penalty kill can swing momentum in a game. The Caps' second-period kill of an Alex Ovechkin delay of game penalty on Wednesday night was a perfect example of that. The Sabres had just scored twice to cut what was a 3-0 lead down to the slimmest of margins, and seemed poised to tie the game. But at just the right time, a successful penalty kill put the Caps back in control of the game. Buffalo didn't threaten again until a desperate end-of-the-game surge.
Kudos to the Caps killers for that effort.
But over the past few weeks, the Caps haven't been particularly good shorthanded, contrary to popular belief. In fact, after a perfect 25-for-25 to start the season over a six-game span, the Caps have successfully killed just 42 of 55 shorthanded situations (over 13 games), which is 76.4%... and actually worse than their success rate from a year ago. They've been perfect on the kill in only three of those 13 games. And the impact of the regressed penalty kill on the team's overall goals against is significant, as the team has given up fewer non-power-play goals per game since the PK streak ended, but has a higher overall GAA.
So will the real Caps penalty kill please stand up... and let us know if it's "problem solved" or just more of the same?