The Edmonton Oilers have tried 11 forwards and 7 defensemen on the penalty-kill. It’s been a disaster, so bad that the club is looking up at the rest of the league. I’m all about the lottery pick and "exciting last place hockey" but the PK is rapidly becoming the story this season.
On Halloween night, Derek Zona at the Copper and Blue wrote a detailed and informative article on the Oilers terrible penalty-kill. Since that day, it has gotten worse. At the end of the article, Zona says:
- I’d like to understand why there is such a difference between the two systems, why different tactics are being used, and how it is that an AHL team is light years ahead of their NHL parent-club in these areas, but I doubt this is a question the people with access are going to ask.
That was 14 days ago and there’s still no answer on the subject. It’s one of two things: either the altered PK alignment is trash and must be done away with immediately, or it’s an issue that involves the actual players on hand to do the job. The Oilers main PK men at forward are Colin Fraser, Shawn Horcoff, Jordan Eberle and Andrew Cogliano (with Ales Hemsky getting a bunch of playing time there too).
Meanwhile in OKC, Liam Reddox continues to build a reputation as being an all-around player and receives solid reviews for his penalty-killing work. Plus he’s scored 2 SH goals so far this year. Reddox has played on the PK with the Oilers in NHL games (a little over one hour in his 56 game career) and along with Ryan O’Marra seems to be doing the lion’s share of the spade work when the Barons are a man short.
Kelly Buchberger coached Reddox in the minor leagues and raved about him at the time:
- "Night in and night out, he’s been our Ryan Smyth. He goes to the net all the time. He’s used in every situation. Last year in Stockton (ECHL) he didn’t play a lot. He’s a surprise. Now it looks like he has a chance to make it. He’s our Ryan Smyth the way he works in practices and the games. I’ve been at the rink early and who walks in the door before eight, for a 10 o’clock practice? Liam– so he can start working out. He competes, plus he’s got skill, lots of skill. You know how Smytty drives to the net, burying that shoulder? Well, Liam does a lot of those little things, too. He’s made big strides in one year. I use him on the point on the power play and when we’re down five-on-three, he’s the forward I send out."
The penalty-kill requires speed, aggressiveness and all out effort. That’s pretty much the Liam Reddox resume. I don’t know if the diamond can work (given enough time) but do know that whatever the Oilers are doing now (22 goals against in 66 sorties) is a disaster. Liam Reddox seems a reasonable reaction to a runaway train.