Chicago Blackhawks: 3 Reasons Why Chicago Has the Best Penalty Kill in the NHL
Last season, the Blackhawks ranked 27th in league on the PK—the worst of any playoff team.
The team's PK, however, is known for the right reasons this season. The 'Hawks now stand at the top of the rankings with a 92.7 percent kill percentage.
Now that's more than a little improved.
Here are three reasons for the Blackhawks' unforeseen success on the penalty kill.
Duncan Keith Is Back to Form
Do you remember who won the Norris Trophy in 2010? Hint: It wasn't Nicklas Lidstrom.
It was Duncan Keith.
Keith is playing like the Norris Trophy winner Blackhawks fans remember. But his plus/minus rating at minus-two for the season doesn't give his play justice.
He is more active than ever on the penalty kill: blocking shots, getting into passing lanes and even saving goals.
This type of exemplary play isn't new to Duncan Keith; he's just taking it to another level during this shortened season.
Whether it be the long offseason or frustration with the penalty kill last year fueling his play, Keith is contributing more than ever to the PK.
Michael Frolik and Marcus Kruger Are Dominating
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But whether they like it or not, Frolik and Kruger now play as defensive forwards on the PK.
And they continue to excel in this role.
Both of the European-born players are speedy. They steal not-so-crisp passes and win crucial board battles.
Perhaps most importantly, they're in—or hustle to get to—the right places at the right times.
"We try to outwork them as hard as we can," Kruger said of the penalty kill unit after the Blackhawks' victory over the Detroit Red Wings (via Tim Sassone, Daily Herald). "We take pride in doing the preparation for the games and learn everything about their power play."
Frolik and Kruger's hard work ethics continue to power the Hawks through often game-deciding short-handed situations.
Corey Crawford Is Playing for the Vezina Trophy
His performance more than qualifies him as the No. 1 goalie now.
The 28-year-old, with a .930 save percentage and no regulation losses, is one of the best in the NHL.
His rebound control has drastically improved. He sees the puck. His movement around the crease is fluid.
Even in short-handed situations, Crawford's excellence in net shows. There's no more need to worry about the puck getting past the team's most important penalty killer.
Crawford is outplaying his critics and opposing teams' power-play units this season.