The Killers

Anaheim's penalty kill efforts are a major reason the Ducks have taken a 2-games-to-none lead in their series with the Sharks

Monday, 04.20.2009 / 7:03 PM / Features
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The Killers

By Adam Brady
AnaheimDucks.com

“We’re doing a great job of not allowing them too much time in zone, clearing pucks, making sure we get pucks down 200 feet, winning faceoffs, blocking shots, letting Jonas make the first save and we’re clearing rebounds and not allowing them the second and third opportunities that they’re probably going to score on,” Pronger says.

It’s been noted time and again how much pressure the Ducks have put on themselves with a rash of penalties in Games 1 and 2 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series with the Sharks.

In each of those two games, Ducks penalties translated into six man-advantage opportunities for the Sharks. But despite having one of the top power plays in the NHL entering the postseason, San Jose has come up empty on each of their 12 golden opportunities.

And that’s a major reason why the Ducks have the upper hand in this statistic: 2-0. As in, their 2-games-to-none lead over the Sharks with the series swinging into Anaheim.  

“That is what it’s about,” says Ducks coach Randy Carlyle. “We’ve talked about it before. It’s just as important to prevent a goal as it is to score one in the playoffs. Goals are at premium right now. Everything that you can do on the defensive side of it improves your chances for success.”

Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller, sparkling for the second straight game with 42 saves in his Game 2 victory, is a major reason for Anaheim’s penalty kill prowess. In the two games, Hiller has thwarted 25 shots on the power play. But it’s the guys in front of him who are also doing heroic work.

That includes defensemen Scott Niedermayer, Francois Beauchemin, Chris Pronger and James Wisniewski, along with forwards Mike Brown, Todd Marchant, Rob Niedermayer, Petteri Nokelainen and even Ryan Getzlaf.

“You don’t grow up wanting to be a penalty killer,” says Marchant. “But we’ve been mixing it up. Mike goes out there and gives us energy, has a real knack for where the puck is going. The rest of it is Hillsy, the best penalty-killer because he’s the goaltender.”

“You don’t grow up wanting to be a penalty killer,” says Marchant. “But we’ve been mixing it up. Mike [Brown] goes out there and gives us energy, has a real knack for where the puck is going. The rest of it is Hillsy, the best penalty-killer because he’s the goaltender.”

Marchant has given the Ducks the advantage right from the drop of the puck, as he’s won 15 of 23 faceoffs in the defensive zone (where every draw is taken during a power play). Meanwhile, Brown has put a tremendous amount of pressure on San Jose puck-carriers trying to force their way into the Anaheim zone.

“We’re doing a great job of not allowing them too much time in zone, clearing pucks, making sure we get pucks down 200 feet, winning faceoffs, blocking shots, letting Jonas make the first save and we’re clearing rebounds and not allowing them the second and third opportunities that they’re probably going to score on,” Pronger says.
Anaheim’s prowess on the kill is in stark contrast to the 82-game regular season, when the Ducks were just 23rd in the league at a rate of 79.74 percent. San Jose, meanwhile, was third in the NHL on the power play, scoring at a clip of 24.17 percent.

“It’s similar to our game overall where we thought we were better than what we had shown,” says Scott Niedermayer. “We believed we had guys in here that knew how to kill penalties and could do a good job at it. Throughout the year, we didn’t do it very consistently and in turn our percentage wasn’t as good as we would’ve liked. We’re doing things the way the way they need to be done now and we need to keep it up. The past doesn’t get you anything next game.”

“We believed we had guys in here that knew how to kill penalties and could do a good job at it," Niedermayer says.  "Throughout the year, we didn’t do it very consistently and in turn our percentage wasn’t as good as we would’ve liked. We’re doing things the way the way they need to be done now and we need to keep it up.”

Agrees Pronger, “I think later in the year when we were getting goals scored against us on the penalty kill, a lot of them were lucky. They were going off sticks or we’d block a shot and it would go right on somebody’s stick. Little things like that, little bounces and breaks that can go either way were going against us. Right now, they’re going for us. Pucks are just squirting past their sticks or they’re hitting posts or crossbars or just missing the net, little things like that were going against us are now going for us.”

Yet the Ducks know that they can hardly keep relying on their penalty kill as much as they have if they want to keep the momentum going against San Jose.

“It’s hard when we’re killing as much as we are,” Getzlaf says. “It drains a lot of players. Luckily enough, our offensive guys don’t have to kill all that much other than myself and Marchant. It’s a tough situation when you’re killing all the time, especially when you go into long stretches where you’re on the kill.”

Those long stretches are a major reason for the lopsided shots on goal output in the series. San Jose outshot the Ducks 44-26 in Game 2 and has a 79-43 advantage in the series.

“We’re doing a lot of things well, but the shot totals are what they are,” Niedermayer says. “I’ve been on both sides of that. Sometimes it means what you think it means and sometimes it doesn’t. When you get that many power plays and you’re in a team’s zone that much, you’re going to get shots. When you’re down at the end of a game, you’re going to get a bunch of shots probably at the end of the game pressing. There are a lot of reasons for it.”

As much as the Ducks have been on their heels from the frequent penalty-taking, Pronger doesn’t want to see a major change in their traditional approach. “We’ve probably taken more than we would’ve liked, but I don’t think we want to lose our aggressiveness,” says Pronger, who took two minors of his own in Game 2. “Certainly, we want to stay out of the box. They have a very potent power play and at some point, they are going to explode. We want to make sure it’s not against us.”

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
7 x - MIN 82 43 27 12 207 206 98
8 x - DAL 82 40 31 11 235 228 91
9 PHX 82 37 30 15 216 231 89
10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
R. Getzlaf 77 31 56 28 87
C. Perry 81 43 39 32 82
N. Bonino 77 22 27 14 49
M. Perreault 69 18 25 13 43
A. Cogliano 82 21 21 13 42
C. Fowler 70 6 30 15 36
K. Palmieri 71 14 17 9 31
D. Winnik 76 6 24 6 30
H. Lindholm 78 6 24 29 30
S. Koivu 65 11 18 3 29
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
F. Andersen 20 5 0 .923 2.29
J. Hiller 29 13 7 .911 2.48


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