I am a big believer, especially at the younger levels, in being aggressive on the penalty kill.
Because it teaches ANTICIPATION, which I think is the best penalty killing fundamental a player can possess. The ability to read a play and act to disrupt that play is a great, positive habit while penalty killing. It takes the PP out of their comfort zone as it takes away time and space.
On these two clips, you’ll see the Islanders and Sharks do a great job of anticipating where the puck is going and hustle to not allow the offensive players time and space. They kill the play before the team can really get into their setup and end up clearing the puck down the ice.
Many coaches believe that the best way to kill a team’s power play structure is to not allow the team into their structure by playing aggressively. I think there’s a lot of merit to that…especially at the younger ages.
The higher the level you play, the more players are able to beat you with less time and space…but if you watch the best penalty killing teams in the NHL…you will see a team that knows when to GO and when to cut losses and play more passively. Although I would argue that these teams err on the side of being over-aggressive, rather than passive.
Fundamentally at the youth ages, it goes back to teaching more concepts than systems. Stick pressure, angles, knowing when to go (if you see numbers, bad angles, or bobbled pucks!). Step and retreat. Head on a swivel.
Not as much “when the puck is here you need to be there”.
Players that are able to think the game at a high level are often great penalty killers because of their ability to anticipate where the puck is going. That’s why it’s our job to continue to teach anticipation…and if you’d like a good clip to show your team from the NHL…look no further than here!!