But penalty killing, that's the good stuff. You have FEWER men on the ice so it's harder. (I know, you NEVER understood that before now, did you?) Real men kill penalties. Penalty killers have to be smart and in the right position at all times, they have to be quick, ready to strike at a moment's notice and they have to be really, really handsome. Okay, they don't have to be really, really handsome but it certainly can't hurt.
Seriously, I'm a fan of good defense - always have been in every sport - and I think the reason I love penalty killing so much is because it's the only time during a game when defense is the center of attention. It's the only time during a game when good defense - an intercepted pass, a blocked shot, a poke check, a cleared puck - gets applauded, sometimes very enthusiastically. I think it's really interesting to see who the coaching staff wants on the ice killing penalties and I think it's interesting to see how that changes - if it changes - depending on the situation. I don't think it's any coincidence that almost all of my favorite players over the years have been regular penalty killers and I won't deny that I always think a little more of a player who's out on the ice when his team is short-handed and a little less of a player who isn't. That's just my style.
So as you can probably imagine, one of my very favorite things about the Sabres' strong start to the season is their perfect penalty killing. Every night I check the stats at NHL.com to see who else is still at 100% and I've enjoyed watching teams drop off. We're the last perfect PK in the Eastern Conference - we get a banner for that, right? - but there are still two Western Conference teams sitting at 100% - the Los Angeles Kings (what?!) and the Minnesota Wild. My dream scenario is this: Someone scores on LA's PK in the next couple of nights so when we faceoff against the Wild on Thursday, it's the battle of the last perfect PK units in the NHL. Our power play scores on them and the cheese stands alone, the final enemy going down at our hands. That'd be cool. I'm very, very attached to our perfect PK. I'm going to be very sad when it ends so I think we should just not let it end. Easy enough, right? What's 77 more games?
Okay, this photo is one of the very first results for a Google image search of "penalty killing."
The People's Elbow a.k.a One of the Dumbest Finishing/Signature Moves Ever. Seriously now. I could do that move.
I'm pretty sure it would be called a penalty but how funny would it be to see Toni Lydman drop an elbow on Zdeno Chara against Boston? That'd be a penalty worth killing and it would add some excitement to what is sure to be a deathly dull game. The only good thing about playing Boston is that it's one less time we have to play them the rest of the season.