John Madden and Marty Reasoner: Naming the Top Unsung Penalty Killers
There are a lot of bad jobs in hockey.They feature hard work, low pay and threat of injury.
One of the worst jobs used to be in ice maintenance. The advent of the ice girl has given even that menial task a hint of glamour, beauty, and style.
The job of NHL penalty killer however has never taken on that shine. It requires an unrelenting work ethic and a willingness to toil in obscurity.
A penalty killer needs to be able to out skate a one-man advantage and be ready to block a shot when he gets there.
Some penalty killers acquire a sort of fame. Usually after they've played on a Cup winner or possess offensive skills. Preferably both.
Brendan Morrow, Jordan Staal, Chris Pronger, Duncan Keith, Todd Marchant, and Samuel Pahlsson have all garnered some fame and fortune for among other things playing key short-handed roles on Stanley Cup Champions.
John Madden is a famous penalty killer. He has won three Cups: two with New Jersey and one with Chicago. He's shown offensive skills throughout his career.
Unfortunately two bad offensive seasons in a row left the 37-year-old begging for a job after winning his third cup last year.
Minnesota finally signed him for $1.25 million. That's the kind of regard even the great penalty killers get at the end.
This slide show is about some other less famous penalty killers, guys without the cups, or the offensive chops, who still deserve some regard for the role they play.
Jay McClement C St. Louis Blues
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Jay McClement spearheaded the St Louis Blues' league best penalty kill (86.8%).
In his fifth season with the Blues McClement played an average of 16 minutes and 43 a game. Almost a quarter of that time was on the penalty kill.
He led all forwards in the league in total penalty kill time and in short handed time on ice per game booking an astounding three minutes and forty four seconds on the kill every game.
He was the only forward among the top 19 players for short handed ice time per game. McClement was strong in the face-off circle if not dominant.
He won 10 fewer faceoffs than he lost in 1,412 attempts. He's a reasonable shot-blocker in a thankless role and was a key to the St Louis penalty kill.
Tyler Myers D Buffalo Sabres
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While some might argue that Ryan Miller was Buffalo's best penalty killer hulking Tyler Myers lead their second best in the league penalty kill (86.6%) in ice time.
The huge Myers was impossible to get around and if you tried to shoot it through him he was just as likely to block it.
His 137 blocked shots lead the Sabres and put him in the top 30 in the league. The quick skating big man had a good offensive year but his contribution to the penalty also has to be given its due.
Chris Phillips D Ottawa Senators
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The ornery Phillips was the league leader in ice time while short handed. He was another big shot-blocker with 142 behind only Volchenkov in Ottawa.
The strong skating Phillips gets around and is miserable when he arrives. He's quick to get the puck out of the zone and with the loss of Volchenkov will be expected to do more to help Ottawa maintain their 7th best, 84.3% successful, penalty kill.
Marty Reasoner C Florida Panthers
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The slick skating Reasoner has made a career out of being 'the' defensive center. One of Dale Tallon's pick-ups, he will be called on to captain what was a miserable penalty kill in Florida last year.
At 33 he's been a top quality checking center for years now. His speed allows him to cover all that open ice when the other team is on the power play.
He won 50.9% of the 1006 face-offs he took last year. His blocked shots and hit numbers are a little low for a defensive forward, but he's a demon on the puck.
He has 51 takeaways and only gave up the puck 12 times last year. That +39 differential was seventh best in the league behind only Datsyuk, Kesler, Burrows, Drury, Toews and Sean Bergenheim. That's not bad company to be in.
Darren Helm C Detroit Red Wings
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Darren Helm is another center who makes speed work for him while short handed. His ability to break up plays make him a danger to counter-attack at any time.
The stone hands appear to be hampering any sort of offensive outburst but keeping a power play on the defensive is the best way to keep it from scoring.
Helm managed to win a strong 51.1% of the 875 face-offs he took, again very valuable on the penalty kill.
Helm was out there the most killing penalties on Detroit's tenth best (83.9%) penalty kill while veterans Kirk Maltby and Kris Draper took a back seat.
Chris Drury C New York Rangers
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Maligned for his high salary and rapidly declining offensive ability, Chris Drury is still one of the best defensive centers in the league.
His over 231.5 minutes lead the seventh best (84.3%) in the league Ranger penalty kill. His 97 blocked shots lead all forwards in the league last year.
Throw in a 52.9% success rate in the face off circle and a tenacious ability to cover the point on the power play and Drury is still one of the best penalty killers in the league.
Is that worth over 7 million a year? Well I have to say no, but it is something.
Mike Weaver D St Louis Blues
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Weaver was the only player in St Louis who spent more time killing penalties than Jay McClement.
The tiny Weaver at 31 has developed almost no offensive skills. Yet he's a little guy who's hard to get around and who lead the league's best penalty kill in ice time.
Interestingly enough here's another player Dale Tallon picked up in the off-season for the Florida Panthers. I'm thinking that Florida Panther penalty kill is due to improve.