Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 05/29/12 at 02:58 PM ET
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
Special teams, we are always told, are the difference between champions and also-rans in the NHL playoffs.
Well, based on recent evidence, that is half-right, which might spell trouble for the New Jersey Devils when they open the Stanley Cup final Wednesday at home against the Los Angeles Kings. For it is penalty killing that is the crucial difference for Cup champions, not the power play, which gives the edge on paper to the Kings.
In the last four years, only one team, the 2010 Chicago Blackhawks, that won the Stanley Cup cracked the top five in the postseason power-play statistics. However, all four champions except the Boston Bruins last year were in the top five in penalty killing. But the Bruins’ 84.4-per-cent success rate in 2011, which was sixth, was better than the Blackhawks in 2010 (83.3) and the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009 (83.3). In 2008, the Detroit Red Wings were fourth in the NHL playoffs with a success rate of 85.7 per cent.
So far in this year’s playoffs, the Kings’ power play is almost the same as the feeble unit iced by the 2011 Bruins, which was 14th among the 16 teams in the playoffs with an 11.4-per-cent success rate. The Kings are an embarrassing 8.1-per-cent on the power play, which puts them 15th in the post-season ranking.
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