VIDEO BREAKDOWN: Penalty Kill Puck Clearing

Below is a quick and simple play that allowed Chicago to clear the puck while on the penalty kill. The play shows the effectiveness of pressure and hockey sense. Instead of waiting for the Sharks to make their own mistake, the Blackhawks use smart & aggressive play to force a mistake, create a turnover, and clear the puck.

Here is what happened.

Logan Couture (39) of the San Jose Sharks receives the puck at the corner point. Marcus Kruger aggressively pressures Couture preventing the pass across the ice and forcing Couture to throw the puck down the boards.

Hjalmarsson the whole time is watching and reading the play. When he notices Kruger skating out aggressively, Hjalmarsson slowly glides towards the boards in expectation of the eventual Couture dump pass along the boards. Instead of staying close to the net, which is considered “safe”, Hjalmarsson used his good hockey sense to anticipate the play and gain possession of the puck and clear it the length of the ice.

This is a simple example of how an aggressive and smart penalty kill can be very effective. A conservative alternative would be all four players sitting back by the net in a box formation. Kruger would have never challenged Logan Couture at the point. With no pressure, Couture would have been able to survey the ice and have plenty of time and space to make an accurate pass, most likely eventually leading to a shot attempt.

That never happened, because the Blackhawks were active and forced their opponent to make a mistake and turn the puck over.