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by Jason Lockhart / New York Islanders

John Chabot's penalty killing unit second-best in the league

John Chabot
The Islanders have already been shorthanded 44 times in the eight games they've played, which is tied for ninth most in the league, but as of Tuesday, only two teams – St. Louis and Columbus – have allowed fewer power play goals.
Ted Nolan placed assistant coach John Chabot in charge of penalty killing duties at the start of the season, and so far the decision has paid dividends.

During the opening 5-3-0 stretch, the Islanders have allowed only four goals on the power play. Their 90.9% success rate puts them in a tie for second place in the league with Ottawa. In four of the eight games, the Islanders did not surrender any power play tallies.

"We haven't changed a lot," said Chabot. "We've tried to give them information about what the other team does to make sure they know where to get into shooting and passing lanes. We want them to make it difficult for the other teams to set up."

Perhaps one of the impressive stats is that the Islanders have not surrendered a goal on any of their 3-on-5 penalty killing situations, totaling 2:52.

Richard Park
"Richard Park, during our 3-on-5 situations has been phenomenal," said Chabot. "He makes teams change their mind from a shooting situation to a passing situation."

The top penalty killing defense pairing of Brendan Witt and Radek Martinek is also the same tandem that is generally matched up against the opposing team's top line. Witt is the more aggressive of the two, throwing his weight around and clearing the bodies in front. Martinek complements his more intimidating partner with speed and a quick stick. The two have been a rock on defense since being paired together last year.

If there's one thing the Islanders do as well as anyone in the league, it's blocking shots. Some argue it's the most courageous skill in sports, others call it downright insane, but there's no denying the effectiveness of sacrificing one's own body to stop a shot. And there's no one on the Islanders who does it better than Brendan Witt. Whether he's completing a two-pad stack or in the goalie position challenging a shooter Witt has no reservations about taking one for the team, and the entire organization recognizes that.

"Those blocked shots are something as a coach you like to see," said Chabot. "It sets the tone for the rest of the PK. There's a certain pride that goes along with being a player. Blocking shots, sacrificing the body are things that are sometimes tough to do. But we have guys on this team that are willing to do that."

Witt is currently third in the league with 30 blocked shots on the season, while his defense partner is right behind with 20. Two other Islanders are in double-digits as well, including Andy Sutton (15) and Bruno Gervais (13).

Radek Martinek
But credit also has to go to the forwards, who are the first line of defense on the penalty kill. The top four penalty killers on the Islanders, Richard Park, Mike Sillinger, Trent Hunter and Andy Hilbert, have all done a marvelous job keeping the point men at bay.

While the defense and forwards get to take a breather every 30 seconds or so, it's Rick DiPietro who is trapped in his goal for all two or more minutes of the Islanders disadvantage. Every game he's played this season DiPietro has been the rock during the penalty kills. In the seven games he has played in, the Islanders have allowed only two power play goals on 37 chances (94.6%).

"If you look at everybody who has been on the ice in a PK situation," said Chabot, "they've done things necessary to kill that penalty. That's what you need."

Nolan may give the credit to Chabot for the effectiveness of the penalty kill unit, but the modest Chabot looked to his players for the reason behind the team's early success.

"As a coach you talk to the players all you want, but the players actually do the work to get things done," said Chabot. "The credit really should go to them for doing anything and everything to get the job done. There are not a lot of different things that can be done, but our guys have paid the price to be successful."

Top Five Penalty Kill Rankings as of 10/22/07

1. Columbus Blue Jackets  3-of-38 .921
2. New York Islanders 4-of-44 .909
2. Ottawa Senators 4-of-44 .909
4. St. Louis Blues 3-of-31 .903
5. Minnesota Wild 4-of-41 .902


Catch the Islanders' penalty killing unit at work at the next home game on Saturday, Oct. 27 vs. Carolina by clicking here.

Saturday, Oct. 27 vs Carolina: 4 tickets for just $99
Halloween is almost here, and the Islanders want to celebrate the ghostly holiday with you, your friends and family on Saturday, October 27 at 7 pm against the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Islanders have cooked up the perfect potion to bring the whole family for just $99. The Halloween Pack includes 4 tickets to the game, 4 hot dogs and 4 sodas. If you are among the first 10,000 fans to arrive at the Coliseum on Saturday - also Law Enforcement Appreciation Night - you will also receive a collectible blue Islanders hat courtesy of Fox Sports New York.

This frightening deal is valued at $225, but for Saturday's game it's priced at just $99. So bring your friends and family!

To purchase a Halloween Pack, please call 1.800.882.ISLES ext. 2.

Click here to watch an interview on Islanders TV of Mike Sillinger discussing the penalty kill unit.


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