Aggression on the penalty kill

Jonathan Willis
January 31 2013 11:51AM

The game between the Oilers and Coyotes last night was the sort of game Jacques Lemaire would love – a “low event” affair. With goals in short supply, I wanted to highlight one penalty-killing sequence in the first period where Eric Belanger and Lennart Petrell successfully forced the Coyotes out of the Oilers end after losing a faceoff.

Phoenix wins the draw on the power play.

Yandle (3 for Phoenix) gets the puck at the point. He has Derek Morris (53 for Phoenix at the other point, but that’s a risky pass because Eric Belanger (20 for Edmonton) has challenged so aggressively. Instead Yandle opts to send the puck back to Radim Vrbata (17 for Phoenix) on the halfboards.

Vrbata stickhandles quickly and skates low, but doesn’t have much. Nick Schultz (15 for Edmonton) is pressuring and while he could play it to the pocket there’s a decent chance that Belanger will pick off the pass. Even if Belanger doesn’t, Lennart Petrell (37 for Edmonton) is in good position to take either Lauri Korpikoski (28 for Phoenix) or Derek Morris.

Vrbata opts to put the pass back to Yandle, and Yandle wastes no time passing off to Derek Morris; a good thing, too given that had he hesitated Belanger could have made life very difficult for him.

Petrell comes out quickly to challenge Morris, so Morris plays the puck back to Yandle who now has a little bit of space.

Yandle could have made a quick pass to Vrbata, but he takes a moment and Belanger wastes no time getting a stick in the lane.

Given half a second to think, Yandle might have played the puck low to Morris, but Belanger closes quickly and gives him no time. With a stick in the lane, Yandle flips the puck in the air hoping to get it over to Vrbata at the other point. Petrell, meanwhile, is charging out to cover Vrbata.

Because Yandle was forced to flip the puck over Belanger’s stick, Petrell’s able to get to it in time and knocks it down; Vrbata could challenge but decides to fall back because if he fails there’s a decent shot at a shorthanded breakaway for Petrell.

Petrell hands the puck off to Belanger, who carries it to centre before blasting it on goaltender Chad Johnson and making a change.

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Jonathan Willis is Managing Editor of the Nation Network. He also currently writes for the Edmonton Journal's Cult of Hockey, Grantland, and Hockey Prospectus. His work has appeared at theScore, ESPN and Puck Daddy. He was previously founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue. Contact him at jonathan (dot) willis (at) live (dot) ca.
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#1 Pucker
January 31 2013, 05:30PM
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Not many comments here. .

Just letting you know I read it, appreciate it (and remember the play well).

Keep 'em commin'

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#2 The Goalie 1976
January 31 2013, 12:01PM
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It's times like this where I really appreciate what Belanger brings. I think we all really believed the hype thinking he was going to be some sort of miricle worker on the 3rd line.

He's a good depth forward, who doesnt have to score to contribute. I LOVE him between Hatri and PVR. That's a great line to draw penalties with speed.

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#3 A-Mc
January 31 2013, 12:17PM
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Belanger is doing great this year. I dont care if the guy never gets a point. he is doing all that extra stuff that you dont see in boxcars but is essential for a successful team.

GJ EB!

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#4 madjam
January 31 2013, 12:40PM
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How many games suspension should Doan and Morris get ? I say 5 . League will probably turn blind eye and dole out nothing seeing as it's Phoenix .

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#5 Mikey
January 31 2013, 02:57PM
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I am loving Petrell so far this year. It's going to be interesting when Jones gets back. I wish MPS would finish his checks. He had a couple chances to destroy some guys last game. Someone needs to get him upset, neh pissed!

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