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Penguins PK entering historic territory

The Pittsburgh penalty kill has been doing work in 2021-22

Pittsburgh Penguins v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

It’s been over a month since the Penguins have surrendered a power play goal against them. They have now gone a franchise-record 14 straight games and counting through 32 straight successful penalty kills

“I think we’re just going out there with a collective effort,” goalie Tristan Jarry said about the team in general on Monday. “The guys are doing a great job blocking shots, and I think that’s something that we wanted to step up coming into the season, just having a lot more blocked shots this year and being able to limit shots on net.”

As Mike Sullivan noted earlier in the way, the best way to limit opponent’s power play goals goes a step further to limit their power play opportunities. The Pens’ rank third in the league as of Wednesday with only 68 penalty kills needed through 28 games (just 2.4 opponent power plays per game).

Pittsburgh has only given up five goals all season while on the PK, the next closest teams in the league have double that amount (10 for Anaheim and San Jose). Overall it adds up to a 92.7% success rate, quite the turnaround from last season’s 27th ranked group at just 77.4%.

A PK number over 90% really sticks out, here’s a look at the best yearly penalty kills in NHL history in the S.C. era since 2005-06. (SC standing for salary cap? Sidney Crosby?)

Best season-long penalty kills

Team Season PK %
Team Season PK %
New Jersey 2011-12 89.6
Montreal 2011-12 88.6
Ottawa 2012-13 88
Toronto 2012-13 87.9
NY Rangers 2008-09 87.8
Pittsburgh 2011-12 87.8
Minnesota 2008-09 87.6
Minnesota 2005-06 87.4
Anaheim 2015-16 87.2
Chicago 2012-13 87.2

A couple of these pop up from the 48-game lockout shortened season, and none are within the last five years. Power play effectiveness overall has crept up and made it difficult for a team to have a dominant PK. The Vegas Golden Knights did lead the league last season with a sterling 86.8% that just missed the list, but that was in a 56-game shortened season.

The highest recent full 82-game season PK success rate was the Boston Bruins 85.7% in 2016-17. In the three full seasons from 2016/17 - 2018/19 only six total teams have been 85.0% or better.

What does that mean for the Penguins? A step back or regression to some degree has to be

Poll

This year’s Penguin PK will end up:

This poll is closed

  • 28%
    Over 90%! No slowing the train, baby!
    (257 votes)
  • 50%
    Finishing in the 87-89% range and be very one of the best in the league in recent memory
    (445 votes)
  • 18%
    End up around 85%
    (163 votes)
  • 2%
    Hit a big slump and not finish in the top-5 in the NHL after all
    (24 votes)
889 votes total Vote Now

in the future, and it wouldn’t take much to knock them off a 90+% perch right now. And also, just no one kills 93% of NHL caliber power plays forever.

However, the impact of the team’s success and record is built directly from strong aspects like the goaltending and penalty kill. It has been a major source of strength that has helped spur the team back on a path to the playoffs.