Carolina Hurricanes’ shorthanded defense among the top NHL teams

Los Angeles Kings Adrian Kempe (9) attempts to shoot the puck over a sliding Jesperi Kotkaniemi of Carolina <a class=Hurricanes (82) during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Raleigh, NC, Saturday, December 18, 2021. (AP Photo.) / Karl B. DeBlaker)” title=”Los Angeles Kings Adrian Kempe (9) attempts to shoot the puck over a sliding Jesperi Kotkaniemi of Carolina Hurricanes (82) during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Raleigh, NC, Saturday, December 18, 2021. (AP Photo.) / Karl B. DeBlaker)” loading=”lazy”/>

Los Angeles Kings Adrian Kempe (9) attempts to shoot the puck over a sliding Jesperi Kotkaniemi of Carolina Hurricanes (82) during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Raleigh, NC, Saturday, December 18, 2021. (AP Photo.) / Karl B. DeBlaker)


Penalty shootouts in hockey are dirty work. There’s nothing glamorous about it, just a lot of sand and grind: getting dirty in the corners, clogging the slot, kicking off the top before rocket shots – or diving.

And only one team in the NHL has done better this season than the Carolina Hurricanes, who have killed 28 consecutive power plays in their last nine games. Carolina was 90.0 percent in Sunday’s games, just below the 90.4 percent of the Pittsburgh Penguins. (To be fair, the canes were understaffed 120 times, second-most in the NHL, while the penguins were only outnumbered 83 times, third-to-last.)

The canes penalty shoot-out is based on anticipation and execution, which emphasizes the opponent’s zone entries and wins the defensive zone draws. It’s the pressure game head coach Rod Brind’Amour prefers. Call it an extension of the five-on-five game of canes, just shorthanded.

“I think everyone’s philosophy on penalties is pretty much the same,” Brind’Amour said ahead of Saturday’s game against the Florida Panthers. “You try to take the time and space away from the good players and of course you have a plan if that doesn’t happen.

“But at the end of the day it’s no different than five against five. You have to overwhelm the power play guys and you definitely have to make sacrifices and face the shots. You have to be ready for that, right? There’s a lot behind it, but at the end of the day it’s about putting as much pressure on as possible. “

RedWingsHurricanesHockey (10) .JPG
Detroit Red Wings center Carter Rowney (37) is defended by Carolina Hurricanes goalie Frederik Andersen (31), center Vincent Trocheck (16) and center Martin Necas (88) while playing in the first period of an NHL hockey game on Thursday in the Close to the grid works December 16, 2021, in Raleigh, NC (AP Photo / Chris Seward) Chris Seward AP

Forcing teams to force games

After the Canes had defeated all four Powerplays in Calgary in a 6-3 win at the PNC Arena on Friday, Flames coach Darryl Sutter mentioned Carolina’s aggressiveness and the disruption and said: Netz. “

One night later, the Canes and Panthers were tied 3: 3 in the third third of a highly competitive game in the PNC Arena, when Canes captain Jordan Staal was kicked off at 5:29 minutes after regular time due to roughing.

Angry Canes fans let their feelings rain down from the stands and showered the officials with displeasure. So did Brind’Amour, who pulled down his mask behind the bench to have a few words with the officials.

But with one of their best and greatest penalty killers in the box, the Canes got back to work. The pressure of the canes on the kill forced Panthers striker Frank Vatrano to an interference penalty against defender Jaccob Slavin, seven seconds behind in the Florida power play.

Vincent Trocheck (16) of Carolina Hurricanes battles Aaron Ekblad (5) of the Florida Panthers for the puck during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Raleigh, NC, Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022. (AP Photo / Karl B DeBlaker) Karl B. DeBlaker AP

The Canes did not allow a shot on goal before the Vatrano penalty as Vincent Trocheck blocked a shot from Aaron Ekblad. They didn’t win the game – Anthony Duclair’s overtime goal decided Florida – but they walked away by one point.

The last power play goal against the Canes came on December 7th when Winnipeg’s Pierre-Luc Dubois scored in the Jets’ 4-2 defeat. The Canes were then two days later in a 2-1 win in Calgary 5 for 5 and began their series.

“You have to overwhelm the other guys but at the same time you are outnumbered,” Canes defender Ian Cole said on Monday. “Walking around like chickens with your heads cut off is not necessarily enough because you’re on the ground. I think it has to be a mixture of smart reading, good anticipation and then, yes, surpassing it.

“It’s about keeping your head down and doing the right things over and over again. Doing the right things over and over again will get the job done, and I think that’s what you’ve been seeing lately. “

The right staff

The list of players who have been used to kill the canes this season is long. Among the defenders: Brett Pesce, Slavin, Brady Skjei and Cole. Among the strikers: Jesper Fast and Steven Lorentz have joined Staal, Trocheck, Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen, and Martin Necas has taken a look to use his speed and speed.

At the Staal penalty, the canes started the kill with Lorentz and Fast, Pesce and Cole. At the beginning of the third period, after an interference penalty against Pesce, the kill began with Staal and Trocheck, Cole and Slavin.

“Everyone seems to be on the same page, working hard and staying in lanes so they don’t get class A shooting ranges,” said Skjei.

Brind’Amour credited Tim Gleason with his work on canes penalties in his first season as assistant coach. As a former NHL defender who has played more than 500 games with the Hurricanes, Gleason did the dirty work and sacrificed his body many times.

Calgary Flames Center Dillon Dube (29) and Carolina Hurricanes Center Jordan Staal (11) face each other during an NHL hockey game in Raleigh, NC (AP Photo / Chris Seward) on Friday, January 7, 2022 AP

Gleason replaced Dean Chynoweth, who implemented the penalty-killing system desired by Brind’Amour, which included the use of Aho and Teravainen in shorthanding, and used the Finns’ quick instinct and cunning as they worked well together.

Aho was a one-man killer in one of the Flames power plays, wiping the puck and running around with it to evade the Calgary players in pursuit.

Since the 2018/19 season, Brind’Amour’s first season as head coach, the canes have had the highest percentage of penalties in the league (87.9). This season, the canes have killed 108 out of 120 power plays.

“Tim was great,” Brind’Amour said of Gleason. “I don’t think we’ve changed that much. There is no need to change. We did a pretty good job with it. But he used his little flair for how he wanted to and did a great job. “

Do not ask Gleason to reveal its tweaks, however. He’ll just grin and say, “It’s the system and the guys got involved,” as he did on Monday, even though using top skill players to kill is more of a new trend in the NHL than “it used to be.” ” is .”

Whether he wants to talk about it or not, Brind-Amour’s system and Gleason’s optimizations work. Just like the rest of the league.

In more than 30 years at The N&O, Chip Alexander has covered the beats of NC State, UNC, Duke and East Carolina and is now in his 11th season with the Carolina Hurricanes Beat. Alexander, who has won numerous state and national author awards, covered the Hurricanes ‘move to North Carolina in 1997 and was part of The N & O’s coverage of the Canes’ 2006 Stanley Cup.

About Mike Crayton

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