In recent weeks, the Detroit Red Wings penalty kill has went from a near-bottom unit to an average one (currently ranked 18th in the league with a 79.1 percent effectiveness rate). Which players are guiding that improvement?
Suter is a player that has been good on the penalty kill all year. The unit just fits his playstyle – he’s two-way center that makes intelligent decisions while still driving offense forward. On the penalty kill, Suter is a great decision maker. He’s not afraid to drive into the offensive zone, put the puck on the boards and just waste time. In his own defensive zone, he’s not quite as aggressive on the forecheck as others on the pk unit, but he’s always waiting for the opportunity to pounce on a mistake – whether it be rocketing the puck from the zone or blitzing forward to net a shorthanded goal (he has one on the season).
Namestnikov has been really impressive for the Red Wings this season, truly rebounding from a disappointing 2020-21 campaign. Most of the attention Vladdy’s garnered is on his offensive abilities this season (with good reason, he’s been the most effective forward outside of the top line with 11 goals and nine assists), but he’s been sneaky-good defensively as well. On the penalty kill, he’s always aggressive on the forecheck, giving opposing forwards a tough time as soon as they enter Detroit’s zone. Vladdy can also capitalize on the opponent’s mistakes, evident by his shorthanded goal.
In terms of contributing to offense, Detroit’s bottom-six has been downright awful. However, the Red Wings lower pairing wingers have done a pretty solid job on the penalty kill. Guys like Michael Rasmussen and Givani Smith have done a pretty nice job of quieting opposing power plays, taking minimal risks offensively and mucking things up in the neutral/defensive zones. While the bottom-six doesn’t have any true standouts this season (with the major exception of Namestnikov), they just play a complete game on the pk.