Through 45 games the Admirals sit in a surprising 24th place in the AHL in penalty killing success. Milwaukee is effective 79.9% of the time short handed, allowing 37 goals on 183 attempts, while scoring six goals of their own while skating at least a man short.
“Some nights our penalty kill is good, other nights its bad,” Milwaukee defenseman Scott Ford said. “I think it’s a just a matter of everybody being on the same page and getting better as a group . . . I think we are doing a better job as of late, and it hasn’t been costing us games like it did early in the season. We just have to keep working on it.”
Here are my three solutions for fixing the penalty kill.
1) Have a healthy Steve Begin. This is probably the biggest reason for Milwaukee’s struggles as Steve Begin seems almost a perfect prototype for a penalty killer in the AHL with his checking tenacity and his aggressiveness. Without Begin, there hasn’t a go-to killer for the Admirals to turn to.
2) Clear Rebounds. Though most hockey fans associate power play goals with pretty plays, oftentimes it’s a rebound or redirection play that scores on a man advantage. Milwaukee has strong goaltenders who can make the first save, but clearing pucks away is even more essential short handed because the killing team is always out-maned down low.
3) Block shooting/passing lanes. Active sticks and quick feet up high makes for good penalty killing forwards. With how well Milwaukee’s forwards play two-way hockey while skating five-on-five, they need to show the same commitment while short handed. This means aggressively skating to take away shooting and passing lanes.
So Roundtable, what are your penalty killing solutions? Is there personnel you wish to see Milwaukee try out short handed, or a four-man style you would like to Lane Lambert employ?