The Canadiens' penalty kill unit at the heart of the team's success

The Canadiens’ penalty kill unit at the heart of success of the team


The Canadiens were expected to get their share of sniffles at the start of the season with matchups against three offensive powerhouses. Yet he was in on every game, surprising even the Maple Leafs and Penguins. 

Much of that surprising success is down to the team's equally surprising outnumbered outfit. Virtually unable to resist during the preseason calendar, the Habs have allowed only one goal in 12 occasions since the start of the regular season.

“It took a bit of time to put everything in place,” said Martin St-Louis. Our way of killing penalties is different from last year. Many of our players weren't playing shorthanded last year, either with us or with another team.

It is often said that a good penalty kill unit depends on the effectiveness of the goalkeeper. Looking at the statistics provided by Sportlogiq, we can see that Jake Allen and Samuel Montembeault have indeed saved the day on a few occasions. 

Allen, who probably has the best seat in the amphitheater to see his teammates at work, noticed some changes as the season approached.

“We struggled during the preparatory calendar, but we learned,” he said. We simplified things. We stand tighter. “

” Guys are starting to understand that you don't always have to chase the puck. Often she comes back to you. We have to use our instincts and not think too much,” he added.

Savard’s big behind

Positioning, instinct, it's a bit what David Savard applies, even if he jokingly claims to be “often in the wrong place at the right time”, when he places himself in the opponents' line of fire.< /p>

“David has a big behind, so he can block a lot of shots,” Allen exclaimed.

David Savard

Since the start of the season , the Canadiens defender leads the NHL with 23 blocked shots. 

“It's part of the sacrifices you have to make if you want to win,” said the Maskoutain.

And we can say that Savard went to the right school to excel in this field. When he started out with the Columbus Blue Jackets, Kris Russell was one of his teammates. However, last year, the one who now wears the uniform of the Edmonton Oilers became the first player in the history of the circuit to cross the plateau of 2,000 blocked shots. 

But he there was another incentive.

“With Torts (John Tortorella), it was non-negotiable. Everyone had to block shots. So it happened naturally,” said Savard, who played under the fiery coach for nearly six seasons.

An effective pack

< p>Curiously, the Coyotes have a higher power play efficiency rate than the opponents the Canadiens have faced so far. 

Furthermore, five of the nine goals that the troop 'André Tourigny has scored in his first three games with the advantage of a man. A stat that did not seem to impress Jake Evans.

“It will be difficult to match the quality of the massive attacks that we have faced so far. I'm excited for this other challenge, ”he said.

Yes, the Canadiens will have to be careful, because it was this weapon that made the difference for the Coyotes, against the Leafs, Monday evening. This contributed to Sheldon Keefe's rise in milk.

He will, among other things, have to keep an eye on Nick Ritchie, author of three of the five goals, and on Shayne Gostisbehere, author of four points with a man's advantage.