Hockey writer Adam Gretz tweeted some interesting info: The Penguins have blocked the fifth-most shots in the NHL, and half the team is hurt. They ranked 24th in blocks last year, and were much healthier for the playoffs.
There is absolutely a correlation. Carl Hagelin, Chris Kunitz and Evgeni Malkin are sidelined because of injuries sustained blocking shots.
The Penguins’ success revolves around speed and skill. They should block shots in dedicated style only when it’s needed: Specifically, in the playoffs. Before that, let the goaltender stop the puck and save the blocks for the postseason.
Even though the Pens have blocked more shots than all but four NHL teams, they have allowed the 13th-most goals in the league. How much do all those blocks really help?
Coach Mike Sullivan is a disciple of Columbus Coach John Tortorella. Tortorella is big on blocks. Adhering to his demands used to cripple his New York Rangers teams.
Let’s say not blocking shots in fanatic fashion costs you 6-8 points per season. (That’s a dramatic overestimation.)
Wouldn’t you trade those 6-8 points to have Hagelin, Kunitz and Malkin healthy? The Penguins would make up some of those 6-8 points if they’re not missing Malkin since March 15.
Malkin blocking shots? Why?
Coaches who stress blocking shots defend it thusly: “You can’t just get out of the way.”
Sure, you can. Phil Kessel does it all the time. That’s why he plays 82 games every year.
The goalie wears a lot more padding. Let him eat rubber.