The Blue Jackets' Penalty Kill Has Not Been Up To Par Because They're Being Overworked

By Jacob Nitzberg on October 11, 2019 at 1:45 pm
Oct 5, 2019; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins (90) makes a save as defenseman Zach Werenski (8) defends against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the second period at PPG PAINTS Arena. The Penguins won 7-2.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, the Blue Jackets' penalty kill was outstanding and the power play was stagnant.

Through three games this year, it's been a complete role reversal.

In terms of the power play, the Blue Jackets are doing well. It's operating at a 33.3% clip (3-9). However, on the penalty kill, it's not so pretty. The Blue Jackets have given up at least one power-play goal in each of their first three games, and they gave up two power-play goals against Toronto and Buffalo. 

While the penalty kill is operating at a 61.5% clip, which is far below league average, it's important to note that the Blue Jackets are taking penalties at an extremely high rate. They've taken 13 penalties in three games, which is not exactly a recipe for success. 

With that in mind, it's clear to see that the penalty kill's ineffectiveness can be chalked up, at least partially, to overworking the unit. If the Blue Jackets can keep their discipline, a theme that John Tortorella has preached many times this season, the penalty kill should be able to figure out some of their kinks. 

The personnel on the kill is mostly the same as last year's unit, which tied for first in the NHL with an 85.0% penalty kill percentage. The coaches are the same as last year, too. Simply put, it boils down to taking fewer penalties. While the unit hasn't impressed thus far, all the tools are in place for it to succeed — if they can get some time to rest in between killing penalties.