New Jersey Devils: 3 Ways To Try And Fix Penalty Kill

New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban (76): Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban (76): Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /
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New Jersey Devils
P.K. Subban #76 of the New Jersey Devils (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

The New Jersey Devils penalty kill is losing them games. There are some outside-the-box ideas to make it better.

The New Jersey Devils penalty kill is awful. There is no other way to put it. It is outright terrible. The Devils are very good at 5v5, but on special teams, things are just awful.

Honestly, this isn’t terribly surprising. The team can build chemistry at even strength as the season goes by. However, special teams take a long time to build that chemistry. Teams usually spend a lot of time during training camp and the preseason to figure out special teams. Unfortunately, the Devils not only had a shortened training camp, but they were trying to get a lot of new players (seven forwards who weren’t in the lineup last season, and four defensemen). Also, they were all learning a new system under Lindy Ruff.

It’s led to a lot of issues on the power play and the penalty kill. The PP looked completely lost on a 5-on-3 chance against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday. That’s not what is literally losing the Devils games. The penalty kill is putting more ticks in the “L” column.

Now, there are issues with penalty kills across the league. Across the NHL, the 78.41 PK percentage is the worst since the 80s when teams were scoring at will. Only twice in the past 30 seasons has there been a league-wide PK percentage under 80%.

The Devils PK is well below the league average. They are allowing goals on just under 30% of opposing power plays. Every time it comes at an inopportune time, it seems inevitable that a goal goes in. Let’s not even talk about the quality of penalties that are being called (who calls a faceoff violation in the offensive zone during a power play? And what even is slashing at this point?). The fact of the matter is the Devils have to stop opposing power plays.

So, how do the Devils fix it? There are some easy answers like a simple change in personnel or just spending more time on it in practice, but Alain Nasreddine needs to pull out some new ways to make this a better unit. Here are some ideas that, while unconventional, could help give the Devils a better chance to succeed on the penalty kill.