The Penalty Killing

 

In between grabbing pints on the new Clocktower’s patio and enjoying yesterday’s gorgeous weather, I spent a fraction of the afternoon gleaning information on Ottawa’s penalty killing numbers from this past season.

This past season, the Senators were tied for having the 20th best PK success rate in the league at 81.6-percent. One year removed from having the ninth-best mark at 83.7-percent, the penalty kill is one of the few areas that suffered once Paul MacLean took over as the new head coach of the Senators.

The following is the composition of how MacLean handled his roster. For the sake of this piece, I’ve set some parameters. To be included, players have to have played in more than 20 games and had to average 50 or more seconds of SH TOI/G.

 

Forwards

SH TOI/G: Erik Condra – 2:46; Jesse Winchester – 2:14; Zack Smith – 2:12; Kaspars Daugavins – 1:58; Jim O’Brien – 1:57; Milan Michalek – 1:28; Daniel Alfredsson – 1:17; and Zenon Konopka – 0:50.

Here’s a chart of how many goals for and against each of these forwards was on the ice for:

Player

Goals For While On Ice

Goals Against While On Ice

Daniel Alfredsson

3

8

Kaspars Daugavins

3

9

Erik Condra

4

28

Milan Michalek

2

11

Zack Smith

3

25

Jim O’Brien

0

4

Zenon Konopka

0

4

Jesse Winchester

0

4

Now proportionate to their ice-time, here are the rates for goals for (GF) and goals against (GA) per 60 minutes of being on the ice.

GF ON/60: Daniel Alfredsson:  1.86; Kaspars Daugavins:  1.44; Erik Condra:  1.08; Milan Michalek:  1.05; Zack Smith:  1.03; Jim O’Brien: 0.00; Zenon Konopka: 0.00; and Jesse Winchester: 0.00.

GA ON/60: Zack Smith: 8.57; Erik Condra: 7.58; Milan Michalek: 5.80; Zenon Konopka: 5.37; Daniel Alfredsson:  4.97; Jim O’Brien: 4.52; Kaspars Daugavins: 4.31; and Jesse Winchester: 3.41

Defence

SH TOI/G: Filip Kuba: 3:23; Jared Cowen:  3:08; Chris Phillips: 3:02; Sergei Gonchar: 1:49; Matt Gilroy: 1:07; Matt Carkner: 0:53; and Erik Karlsson: 0:33.

Player

Goals For While On Ice

Goals Against While On Ice

Filip Kuba

6

18

Jared Cowen

5

23

Sergei Gonchar

2

14

Erik Karlsson

0

5

Chris Phillips

3

31

Matt Carkner

0

4

GF ON/60: Filip Kuba: 1.50; Jared Cowen: 1.20; Sergei Gonchar: 0.90; Chris Phillips: 0.77; Erik Karlsson: 0.00; and Matt Carkner: 0:00.

GA ON/60: Filip Kuba: 4.49; Jared Cowen: 5.53; Sergei Gonchar: 6.33; Erik Karlsson: 6.60; Chris Phillips: 7.97; and Matt Carkner: 9.36.

There are some interesting things to note here:

  • Not surprisingly, Ottawa’s most dangerous offensive threat on the PK was Alfredsson; while the worst threats to score were O’Brien, Konopka and Winchester.
  • From an offensive and defensive perspective, Filip Kuba was Ottawa’s best penalty killer last season. I’m just as shocked as you are.
  • After being extremely effective PKers under Cory Clouston upon their promotion last season, both Erik Condra and Zack Smith endured some struggles and bad fortune in 2011/12. While most of their teammates enjoyed on-ice save percentages closer to .900, Condra (.859) and Smith (.849) both suffered from some horrendously bad on-ice save percentages.
  • It’s interesting to note that Smith’s struggles were noticed by the coaching staff. When it came time to the postseason, Smith had his PK ice-time reduced to 0:41 per game. Zenon Konopka was the beneficiary of Smith’s minutes. Thanks to his faceoff prowess, MacLean entrusted Konopka with Smith’s minutes and those important defensive zone starts.
  • After a season in which he was actually quite effective on the PK – he was only on the ice for 3 goals against while averaging 1:28 of SH TOI/G – Erik Karlsson had his shorthanded minutes cut back so that Paul MacLean could make better use of his elite offensive talents by giving him more even strength minutes.
  • Despite seeing his total shorthanded TOI be reduced by approximately 47 minutes from last season, Chris Phillips was on the ice for 6 more power play goals against. Much like Smith and Condra, Phillips was victimized by a terrible on-ice goaltender save percentage.

Conclusion:

Keeping in mind Ottawa’s offseason roster situation, it’s very possible that the organization could find itself without Jesse Winchester (concussion symptoms/impending UFA); Zenon Konopka (impending UFA); Kaspars Daugavins (lost in the roster numbers game); Daniel Alfredsson (LET’S NOT TALK ABOUT IT!) and Filip Kuba (impending UFA).

As an easy target of derision by the fans and media, Kuba took a lot of flack last summer for having a season that had many fans yearning for the day his contract expired or the day he was dealt; whichever came first. With the likelihood that he will be hitting unrestricted free agency on July 1st, management will have to replace his top pairing minutes and his shorthanded minutes. Regardless of how you feel about Kuba and how much Erik Karlsson’s performance inflated his worth, it’s going to be a tall order to fill this role and do it an economic fashion.

Up front, for a few of the Senators incumbents to raise their profile, they will have to improve their talents in the faceoff circle. While the addition of a healthy Peter Regin (49.2%) could help offset some of the minutes, both he, Zack Smith (48.9%) and Jim O’Brien (47.3%) have to get better off the draw. In doing so, their ability to get puck possession off of the draw could go a small way into ensuring that Ottawa’s PK improves next season.

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