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Sturm Blog: Penalty Kill Woes

by Bob Sturm / Dallas Stars
Bob Sturm

9 for 16.

If you are playing baseball, that makes you Ichiro or Joe Mauer on a particularly hot streak.

If you are playing basketball from behind the 3 point line, then you are borderline unconscious.

But, if you are killing penalties, you are last in the league with a 56% Penalty Kill.

As we head to game 5, that is where the Stars are right now. See the stats for yourself.

9 for 16 on the penalty kill. It is a small sample size, but since this team was 24th last year (78%) in killing off opposing power plays, this is a point of great sensitivity for me as I try to figure out this new team, and what they are good at.

And when this organization was truly special, special teams was the spine of it all. In 99-00, the Stars were #1 in the NHL with a PK of 89%. Ken Hitchcock/Bob Gainey hockey teams were not flashy, but they would rather chew on glass than allow a PP conversion.

Marc Crawford most likely realizes that if there is any one thing that is killing the Stars through 4 games, it isn't the shootouts. They aren't crazy about losing shootouts, but sometimes, the best remedy for poor shootouts is staying out of them by killing off penalties during the first 60 minutes of the night. He coached them extensively at working on their PK during practice this week, but another true test is Wednesday Night against Nashville.

There used to be a time with the Stars where if the PK was not up to par, we knew that everyone just had to buckle down and do what they can do. They were proven in this department. But at this point, with this team, I think we could suggest that most of the penalty killers wearing Stars sweaters are not thought of as great penalty killers around the NHL. They have to prove they can do it in the big leagues on a consistent basis.

The 82 games are the great proving ground to see who can.

So far, 7 Power Play goals out of 16 opportunities would be reason #1 why this team is not sitting on more than 1 win. You cannot give up almost 2 PP goals per game.

Karlis Skrastins will continue to help. Nik Grossman and Stephane Robidas are promising. Up front, we know Lehtinen, Morrow, and Ott are proven, with Peterson and Sutherby being pretty under-rated. But it takes all of that and more to be good enough to hold a Power Play of say, Thornton, Heatley, Setoguchi, Blake, and Boyle off the scoresheet.

I am anxious to see if this extra time in practice is going to translate on the ice. Objective #1 is stay out of the box. But, Objective #2 must be to climb out of #30 in PK percentage very, very quickly.

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