Bert and Ernie. Tom and Jerry. Mario and Luigi. William and Reilly.
Some duos just work, and the Golden Knights penalty kill pair of Karlsson and Smith is one of them.
Over the history of the franchise the pair we dubbed the #PowerKill has been on the ice together for 10 of the Golden Knights 22 all-time shorthanded goals. Meanwhile, when playing together they’ve allowed just 21 of the 100 all-time power play goals against. To phrase that differently, Karlsson and Smith have been on the ice together for 45% of the team’s shorthanded goals but only 21% of the power-play goals.
When Pete DeBoer took over the Golden Knights in January, one of his first big moves was to change the penalty kill system. With it, he moved Karlsson away from Smith. During the Pause, DeBoer had some time to rethink that strategy.
I think the Pause allows you to kind of look at your whole group and your team and combinations and the analytics. So when we dove into our group and particularly our penalty killing, that was something we wanted to try when we started up again. -DeBoer
I’ve already shared the best analytic, but here are a few more that point to the partnership of Karlsson and Smith being a no-brainer on the VGK PK.
|Goals For %||32.3%||13.2%|
|Scoring Chances Against/60||38.1||51.9|
|High Danger Chances/60||6.8||2.7|
|High Danger Chances Against/60||13.9||21.2|
|Corsi For %||23.9%||13.7%|
|Expected Goals Against/60||4.9||6.8|
Just this season alone, in 89 minutes on the ice together, the pair has had a hand in five shorthanded goals. No other pair of penalty killers has tallied more than three in all three seasons combined!
Like all great duos, they aren’t nearly as good when on their own. Karlsson without Smith has allowed more goals in almost half the time on ice. And Smith without Karlsson has led to just one shorthanded goal in three seasons while allowing 16. They create fewer chances, give up more, and are worse in every measurable analytic.
Time will tell if the more aggressive style of penalty killing implemented by DeBoer slows down the #PowerKill, but if history has taught us anything, those two will be better than any other duo the Golden Knights can roll out… and probably the rest of the league too.