PHILADELPHIA – The Habs roll into Philly boasting a penalty kill that’s been virtually unbeatable in the month of November.
The Flyers’ power play unit can expect to have their hands full on Black Friday when they’ll try to stack up against a Habs PK that hasn’t allowed a goal since being beaten by the Rangers during a 5-on-3 on Nov. 5.
“I think that right now we’re just being aggressive on our kill,” explained Josh Gorges who’s been a major contributor in his team killing off their last 36 consecutive penalties. “We’re jumping in at the right times and we’re jumping as a unit of four, which I think has been forcing the opposition to make some tough plays. It’s been a big part of our keys to success so far.”
Ranking 17th in the NHL – just one slot behind teammate Hal Gill – with an average of 3:43 short-handed minutes per game, Gorges attributes the Canadiens’ success in that department to the group’s willingness to sacrifice.
|The Habs penalty kill hasn't been beaten in nine games.|
“We’re determined right now. I think guys that are out there are willing to get into the shooting lanes and block shots and we’re going out there with a purpose,” continued the 27-year-old whose 56 blocked shots currently seat him 2nd in the NHL behind only Edmonton’s Ladislav Smid. “We want to be able to outwork the opposition’s power play and get the job done.
“Honestly, Carey [Price] has been big for us and made big saves when he’s had to. His ability to handle the puck and clear the zone on his own is huge. It kills 30 seconds right there, without us having to really do any work, and that way it lets us stay a little fresher.”
While it’s not uncommon for players to heap praise on their goaltender in similar situations, a few stalls over, Price was having none of it.
“There’s no way I’m taking the credit for this one. The guys have been doing an amazing job of working together on the penalty kill. It’s been the key to us winning games,” deflected Price whose team has blocked 350 shots in front of him so far in 2011-12 – good enough for 3rd in the league. “Everyone is moving in the same direction at the same time and knows exactly when to apply pressure.
“With the rules the way they are now in the NHL, penalties are a big part of the game and there are a lot more of them than before,” continued the All-Star netminder, set to face the Flyers on Friday. “A lot of the times, it’s special teams that decide whether you win or lose a game. So we have to be proud of what we’ve accomplished.”
Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.
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