Despite the Devils obvious struggles this season, there has been a bright spot: the penalty kill. Currently, the Devils PK is ranked second in the NHL at 85.7%. The only team who has a better PK is the Arizona Coyotes.
This season, there aren’t many areas of the Devils game that rank in the top 10 of the NHL. The PK is the exception. The Devils PK has been exceptional all season long and doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon. The Flyers had 3 power play opportunities this last game, but the Devils PK continued to be lights out, killing off all 3 of them.
One of the most critical and impressive components of the PK for the Devils is the combination of Travis Zajac and Blake Coleman. Zajac and Coleman are PK super stars, consistently making key plays and clearing the puck. Another thing they consistently do is create short handed opportunities, giving them good chances to score short handed goals. Besides the PK, Coleman has been playing great lately. He has at least a point in the past 5 games and has scored 14 goals so far this season, surpassing last season.
When the Devils are on the PK, it seems like they change into a different team. Its like all the pieces start to click and the defense gets it together. When it’s even strength hockey, the Devils have definitely struggled on defense but that goes out the window when they are on the PK. They protect the house, block the passing lanes and don’t allow the opposition to setup and create scoring chances.
There have been some downsides to the PK throughout this season too. In my opinion, the big issue with our PK is goal tending. A lot of the goals scored against us on the PK could/should have been saved. I’m not going to get specific, but hopefully Mackenzie Blackwood stays healthy so he can continue to stand up in the net and shut it down.
Like I’ve said, the PK for the Devils has been terrific this season. They have definitely had struggles in almost every other aspect of their game, but the PK has been strong and sound. Coming off a win over the Flyers this past weekend (and a perfect PK) maybe the Devils can build off it and stat consistent for the rest of this season.
Stats: nhl.com; hockey-reference.com; Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images; Chris Engelhardt; AP Photo/Julio Cortez; Paul Bereswill/Getty Images North America