Konroyd: One statistic tells the story

Konroyd: One statistic tells the story
January 23, 2013, 9:29 pm
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I know were only three games into the season, but there is only one team (as I write) with three wins: the Chicago Blackhawks. There are a few noticeable reasons for the fast start: the return of Marian Hossa, the improved play of all six defensemen, the depth on all four lines and the solid net-minding we have seen thus far.
After being around the game as long as I have, I know there are certain stats that coaches zero in on, and one of the top attention-getters is penalty-killing. Chicago currently ranks third in the NHL in this department, and this, albeit in a small sample size, is a good sign.
Like the NFL, the NHL is a copycat league, and you just have to look at who has won the Stanley Cup over the last six seasons to figure out who gets to the final dance. Of the six teams that have hoisted Lord Stanley since 2007, only the Boston Bruins finished outside of the top eight in penalty kills. Chicago (10), Anaheim (07) and Los Angeles (12) all finished with the fourth best penalty-killing records when they won their respective Cups. We see a trend here and so do coaches, that your penalty killing is a reflection of your team defense.
Obviously your goaltending has a lot to say about your penalty killing, and for the Blackhawks, so far so good. Another trend coach Joel Quenneville has got to love is the lack of penalties called on his team. The Blackhawks have been whistled for 10 infractions in the first three games. So lets enjoy this view atop the NHL standings for now, as we may be looking from a different vantage point next week. And lets applaud the Blackhawks for getting their penalty kill from the outhouse to the penthouse during this extended offseason.