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Red Wings Penalty Kill Picture of Perfection

Detroit has successfully killed 20 straight penalties



Red Wings Dylan Larkin
Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin credits goalie Alex Lyon and the team's depth for their recent success on the PK.

When it comes to the kill, Detroit Red Wings are suddenly a deadly bunch. They are absolutely smothering NHL power plays.

The Detroit penalty kill has successfully dealt with 20 straight penalties without allowing a single power-play goal over the past nine games. Going back through the past 13 games, the Red Wings have killed off 32 of 33 shorthanded situations.

“Good special teams win games,” suggested Red Wings forward Michael Rasmussen, one of the club’s top penalty killers. “That’s a good little streak for our penalty kill unit.”

During their recent 3-0 West Coast swing, the Red Wings penalty killers went eight-for-eight. They even handled a 5-on-3 scenario for 1:25 during Sunday’s win at Anaheim.

“We’ve gotten in a good rhythm of 2-3 units going over the boards, putting pressure on pucks, making it hard for other teams to enter the zone,” Detroit captain Dylan Larkin said. “When they do, we’ve been good on faceoffs as well.”

Larkin also pointed to the work of goalie Alex Lyon as keying Detroit’s stinginess when shorthanded.

“When they do get in the zone, we get a save,” Larkin said. “That’s huge. You need yor best penalty killer to be your goalie.”

Red Wings Have PK Expert In Boughner

It’s the role of associate coach Bob Boughner to keep the PK cooking. Boughner came to Detroit with a reputation for building great penalty-kill units during his time as coach of the San Jose Sharks. In 2021-22, the Sharks were the NHL’s second-best penalty kill club, with an 85.2% success rate.

“I think it helps when you got a guy like Boogie who’s been there and coached some pretty good penalty kills in the past,” Lyon said. “When you’re going through a tough stretch, it’s nice to have somebody in the room with a voice you can trust to say, ‘I’ve been here before, I’ve seen it.’ It’s been good for us.”

Detroit is currently 11th in the NHL on the penalty kill at 81.6%.

“Detail. Organized,” Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde assessed as to why the PK is working so well. “As much as we’ve had some practice time in other areas, we also got some practice time with our special teams of late and it’s been huge for us.”

It also beneficial that the club is staying away from taking up residence in the penalty box. The 20 penalties over nine games works out to 2.22 times shorthanded per game.

“I think it’s helped our five on five game by keeping the guys fresh,” Lalonde said. “Being disciplined, taking one, taking two (penalties).”

They’ll get a big test of that discipline and of their overall PK prowess at Little Caesars Arena on Thursday. The Edmonton Oilers of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are visiting. Edmonton is the NHL’s No. 7 power play, clicking at 25.8%. During the last three games the Oilers are three-for-eight (37.5%) with the man advantage.

This is an elite-type power play,” Lalonde said. “We spend too much time in the box, it’s going to be a long night for us.”