The penalty kill has been a significant part of the Oilers’ playoff run

Photo credit:Edmonton Oilers, Penalty Kill
Ryley Delaney
1 month ago
The Edmonton Oilers’ power play was the talk of the first two rounds.
After the first series against the Los Angeles Kings, the Oilers had an absurd nine goals on 20 opportunities for a 45 percent conversion rate on the power play. It took a step back in the second series against the Vancouver Canucks, going 6-for-20 for a 30 percent conversion rate. Not as insane, but still good, of course. Heading into the third round, the Oilers had a 37.5 power play percentage across their two playoff rounds.
At one point, between Game 5 of the second round and Game 4 of the third round, the Oilers’ power play went cold. They scored just one goal in 15 chances, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ game-winning goal in the decisive Game 7 over Vancouver. In Game 5 of the Dallas series, they went two for three on the power play before scoring both goals in Game 6 with their two power play opportunities.
The power play has been somewhat up and down, which can be expected during an NHL playoff run. But interestingly enough, Edmonton’s penalty kill has really become the story of the playoffs lately. 

Let’s talk about Edmonton’s penalty kill

During the regular season, the Oilers’ penalty kill was in the middle of the pack, killing off 79.5 percent of the penalties they took. Of the playoff teams, this ranked eighth, and 15th overall. They had spans of killing 90 percent of penalties over 30 games, but the penalty kill wasn’t anything special.
That was until the postseason. The Kings had the second-best penalty kill at 84.6 percent and were hilariously lit up by the Oilers. However, the Oilers held the 12th-ranked penalty kill to 0-for-12 in the series, the first but not the last time they would do that in a series.
Unfortunately, the Canucks snapped Edmonton’s kill streak at 16 with an Elias Pettersson goal early in Game 2. Not just that, but the Canucks would go on to score two power-play goals in Game 3, bringing the Oilers penalty kill percentage to 85.1 percent. That’s the lowest it’d drop.
Over the next four games, the Oilers would kill all 14 penalties they took, giving them an 87 PK percentage in this series. This was the start of one of the longest penalty-kill streaks in postseason history.
For the second series this postseason, the Oilers didn’t allow a goal on the penalty kill, as they went a perfect 14/14 for a 100 percent kill. That means they’ve killed off 28 consecutive penalties, good enough for a tactical nuke and then some.
All told, the Oilers have the best penalty kill percentage in the NHL playoffs at 93.9 percent. That’s an incredible improvement from the 79.46 percent they posted during the season.

What changed for the Oilers?

After Sunday’s win over Dallas, Oilers head coach Kris Knoblauch had this to say when asked about the penalty kill. 
“The penalty kill, when I got here, was struggling and I’m not taking any credit on this penalty kill — it’s not my responsibility. It’s Mark Stuart, who’s done a tremendous job on that. The only thing I’ll take credit for is giving him that responsibility to do that penalty kill. I’ve said it before, I wasn’t sure. I didn’t know Mark, and he never ran the penalty kill.
I didn’t know him as a coach. I knew he was fairly green and hadn’t been doing this long, but there weren’t many options and we gave him that responsibility. He has done a fabulous job with it. I don’t think we’d be here today if our penalty kill hadn’t been as strong as it had been through all the series.”
Prior to Knoblauch taking over, the Oilers were 30th in penalty kill percentage at 70 percent. After he took over, they jumped all the way to 81.7 percent, the seventh-best percentage from November 12th onward.
Moreover, during an intermission in the second game of the Dallas series, Kevin Bieska and Rick Bowness went over how the Oilers’ penalty kill works and the adjustments they made in games.
Basically, the Oilers are incredibly aggressive, and when teams adjust, so do they, and it’s helped them post one of the longest penalty kill streaks in a long while. Let’s talk about that briefly.

Corey Perry and long streaks of consecutive kills

During my research, the longest streak I could find was the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim’s 34-kill streak during the 2006 postseason. After allowing two power play goals in Game 5 of the first round against the Calgary Flames, the Ducks killed off two more power plays in that game before killing off seven in the remaining two games.
As a side note about the round one series, the Anaheim Ducks took 43 penalties in that seven-game series, while the Flames took 44 penalties, combining for 87 minor penalties in one round. For context, the Oilers have taken 48 penalties in three rounds, or 18 games. In Game 12, Anaheim killed off 10 of 12 minor penalties.
Anyway, they were perfect in a four-game series against the Colorado Avalanche, killing off five, six, eight, and three penalties respectively. Their streak ended in Game 1, coincidentally against the Edmonton Oilers, but not before killing off three penalties prior to the Aleš Hemský power play goal.
That Ducks team included a 20-year-old Corey Perry.
Fast forward to the 2021 postseason, and starting in Game 4 of the first round, the Montréal Canadiens killed off 33 consecutive penalties before Steven Stamkos scored a power-play goal to make it 5-1 in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. This Canadiens team featured a 35-year-old Corey Perry and lost in the finals.
In my research, I’ve also seen people say that the St. Louis Blues killed off 34 consecutive penalties, but I can’t find that for the life of me. Moreover, during the second intermission of Game 6, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman noted that a team has potentially killed off 38 penalties, but I can’t find that either.
Funnily enough, Perry didn’t play a second on the 2021 Montréal Canadiens penalty kill nor the 2024 Edmonton Oilers penalty kill. Natural Stat Trick doesn’t go back far enough (2008 postseason), but I’m willing to bet he had limited time on Anaheim’s penalty kill during their 2006 run given he was 20 at the time.

The Oilers PK vs. the Panthers PP

At most seven more games are left in the 2023-24 season. Edmonton vs. Florida is the longest distance between two teams in Stanley Cup Final history.
Florida’s power play in the postseason hasn’t been great. It operates at a 23.3 percent clip, sixth best in the postseason. Of the four teams that made it to the Conference Finals, it was the third best, with the Dallas Stars’ 20 percent being the worst. It is worth mentioning that before their 0/14 spell against the Oilers, their power play percentage was 29%.
The two teams are similar in the penalty kill. Edmonton’s 37.3 percent power play is still the best in the postseason despite its massive 1/15 spell between round two and round three, but Florida’s 88.2% penalty kill is second-best behind the Oilers.
Once again, just like the Dallas series, a big part of who comes out on top will come down to special teams. Hopefully, the Oilers can break the record for consecutive kills, whatever that record may be.

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