The Winnipeg Jets themselves may not be a playoff team come the end of the 2013-14 regular season, but their penalty kill has shone as of late, making it one of the most successful units in the league.
The Jets’ penalty kill really stole the spotlight in their most recent game, a 3-2 overtime loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Monday. Despite four penalties in the first period, and eight in the whole game, the Jets did not surrender a power-play goal. That clean sheet gave Winnipeg a perfect PK on the road in the last 40 tries. The Jets’ penalty-kill is ranked fifth in the NHL, at a 84.3% rate. The Jets can vault into fourth over the Montreal Canadiens with only four consecutive kills, however.
The Jets’ penalty kill is led by two former Chicago Blackhawks, in Michael Frolik and Dustin Byfuglien. Frolik was a part of the Blackhawks’ third-ranked penalty kill last season along with Marcus Kruger, and has translated well into the Jets’ first unit.
Although Byfuglien’s defensive errors were costly in the first half of the season, #33 has found his mark since, and has been a force in front of the net, clearing the way for his goaltender to make the save. Byfuglien has been useful on the Jets’ penalty kill when he is not in the box, however: Big Buff’s 66 PIMs on the season is second on the Jets to fellow PK-er Mark Stuart, who has 81.
The Jets’ penalty kill will come in handy as the team tries to salvage a four-game losing streak, and make a run at the playoffs: In their last sixteen games of the regular season (including Wednesday’s match-up against the Vancouver Canucks), the Jets will face a top-10 power-play unit six times, including the Pittsburgh Penguins’ power-play, which has clicked along at a 25% pace this season.
Aside from the game in Colorado, the Jets are one of the cleanest teams in the entire NHL: they are the fourth-least penalized team in the league, at 242 times shorthanded this season. When a Jets player heads to the box, however, their penalty-kill ensures that fans don’t have to stress too much.
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