EDITOR'S NOTE: You've arrived at the CBJ Power Rankings, our weekly breakdown of the top-five players, statistics, trends and many other Blue Jackets-related categories. If you're looking for the traditional power rankings, you've come to the wrong place. We'll go in-depth and outside the box, and hopefully give you something to think about.
We’re a week into this young season, still too early to make any definitive opinions on what teams are for real in the NHL and which ones are just a flash in the pan. But it is enough of a sample size to give kudos to teams who are doing the little things right, and who seem to have certain parts of their game going strong.
Penalty killing is an important facet for any team. With the skill level across the NHL so even at five-on-five, special teams can be the swing factor, especially in the playoffs. A dominant penalty kill isn’t always the mark of a dominant team (no top-ranked PK has finished better than sixth in the conference the last three years). But more often than not, it’s a mark of good goaltending, good defense, and a team that will be feisty at the playoff push.
Will these teams be in that mix? Here’s the top five penalty killing teams in the NHL early this season.
Barry Trotz's arrival behind the bench in Washington was supposed to make the offensively charged Capitals a stronger defensive team. With a penalty kill ranked fifth in the league with a 90 percent success rate, maybe we're seeing the early payoff of Trotz hockey.
The Caps were nowhere near the top-5 last season, finishing 16th in the NHL with an 82 percent success rate. This year, the Caps are 18-of-20 on the kill but the question remains whether or not they can continue that success. They give up the eighth-most shots per 60 minutes shorthanded, they give up the eighth-most shot attempts, and their 34:04 this season shorthanded is the seventh-most in hockey. Their saving grace has been a .917 save percentage on the penalty kill, still only good for 10th.
The penalty kill coupled with their strong offense (tied for fourth in NHL in goal scoring) has gotten Washington off on the right foot to start the year. Can they maintain it?