Montreal Canadiens: Penalty Kill Becoming Dangerous Offensive Threat

Jan 28, 2021; Montreal Canadiens Tyler Toffoli Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 28, 2021; Montreal Canadiens Tyler Toffoli Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports /

Montreal Canadiens games have been quite entertaining so far this season. It helps that their record is 5-0-2 and they are among the best teams in the NHL at the moment, but they play an exciting style of fast paced hockey as well.

They have four lines up front that they can throw on the ice against anybody and three defence pairings that can do the same. Heck, they even have Michael Frolik and Victor Mete sitting as healthy scratches and they can more than hold their own if they get in the lineup.

It has made for some exciting hockey from the Canadiens this season and some of the most excitement has come while the team is shorthanded.

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In the Canadiens first game, a few too many penalties was their undoing in a 5-4 overtime loss. They were in control, up 3-1, late in the second period but three penalties in the last four minutes of the middle frame led to two quick power play goals by the Maple Leafs. Toronto finished the night 2-for-4 with the man advantage, and it propelled them to victory.

Since then, the Canadiens have been just as likely to score a goal while down a man as they are to allow one.

Since that first game, the Habs have been shorthanded 28 times and allowed five goals. That is a PK% of 82.1 which is not an elite rate, but is certainly above average. We have seen the Habs penalty kill struggled over the past few seasons, so 82% is definitely acceptable.

Especially when you consider how dangerous they have been offensively in that time.

The Canadiens have allowed five goals while shorthanded since their first game of the season, but they have also scored five goals while shorthanded.

Tyler Toffoli has a pair of shorthanded goals and Jake Evans, Joel Armia and Artturi Lehkonen have added one each.

Last season, the Canadiens scored six shorthanded goals in 71 games. There were 13 teams that scored five or less shorthanded goals all of last season, but the Habs have been able to accomplish that feat already, having played just seven games this season.

So far this season, there are 15 teams that have scored five or less goals on the power play. That means they Habs are as likely to score a goal while shorthanded as half the league is to score a goal with the man advantage.

The Canadiens penalty kill is built around big, physical defensemen like Shea Weber, Joel Edmundson, Ben Chiarot and Jeff Petry but it also has some quick, smart, forwards who can pounce on a loose puck or pick off a pass and turn it into an odd man rush in a hurry.

So far, the Habs have been outscored 7-5 when they have less players on the ice than the other team. They average 7:19 per game of shorthanded ice time in seven games. That means they have played 51:13 when the other team has more players on the ice, and they’ve been outscored by two.

At this rate, if the Habs were to play an entire game with less players on the ice than their opponent, they’d be down by two with 8:47 to play. That includes the Maple Leafs 5-on-3 goal from opening night.

Next. Perry adds much needed depth to Habs. dark

If the Habs played a whole game down five skaters to four, the numbers suggest they’d be able to keep pace and have a chance to win.