Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
Perhaps Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher should be given a chance to kill penalties.
When shorthanded, the objective is, of course, to not allow the other team to score. You have done your job as a penalty-killer if the two minutes (or more) expires and you have kept the other team off the scoresheet.
Generally, leading an offensive rush isn't on the minds of the penalty-killing unit. Any goals mustered while playing a man down are just a bonus.
Here's a fun stat: The Montreal Canadiens did not manage to score a single shorthanded goal during the 48-game 2013 season. The Tampa Bay Lightning were the only other team in the NHL not to score a shorthanded goal (their penalty kill was ranked an unimpressive 19th).
Not scoring while down a man in itself might not be cause for concern, but it does provoke an interesting thought.
In order to score a goal, the puck needs to be on your stick. And, of course, every second the puck is on your stick is another second that the opponent cannot score. This is the basis of advanced possession statistics.
While there is no stat that directly measures puck possession, not scoring a single shorthanded goal is a pretty good indication that the Canadiens had little puck possession while killing penalties last season. Watching the forwards continually dump the puck out of their zone instead of looking for odd-man rushes is another.
Perhaps allowing the Canadiens' more skilled players a chance to kill penalties could improve their chances of shorthanded success.
Last season, Jeff Halpern led the Canadiens forwards in average time on ice while shorthanded. Next on the list was Travis Moen, followed by Tomas Plekanec, Brandon Prust and Colby Armstrong. Not exactly a list of offensive skill.
Max Pacioretty averaged just six seconds of ice time in four-on-five situations last season. David Desharnais averaged seven seconds per game. Brendan Gallagher received a total of 39 seconds of shorthanded ice time on the season. Alex Galchenyuk totaled just six seconds all year.
Perhaps it's time Michel Therrien and his staff reconsider which forwards they employ to kill penalties. At the very least, they should give the likes of Pacioretty, Gallagher and Galchenyuk a chance. After all, they can't do much worse than those used in shorthanded situations in 2013.