There are only five teams in the NHL that have a better success rate when it comes to the penalty kill. Of those five teams (Colorado, Toronto, Vancouver, Columbus, Detroit) only the Red Wings have committed more penalties than the Sabres, and two teams have had to kill off less than 15 penalties so far this season (Colorado, and Columbus). Bottom line: the Sabres’ 87% success rate on the pk is pretty impressive.
Now, we have to accredit a good deal of Buffalo’s success at killing off penalties to the Sabres’ goaltending tandem . . . but I’ll be discussing them in a bit, so hold that thought. It takes more than just solid netminding to kill off penalties, however. As clueless as the Sabres have often looked in even-strength situations (and I’ve already demonstrated that here), they have been surprisingly sound defenders when it comes to the penalty kill, employing a 1-3 scheme to put pressure on the puckhandlers while they clog the middle of the ice. Buffalo’s forwards have also been aggressive in challenging the opposing team’s blueliners, trying to deflect passes or just disrupt them enough to cause a turnover. Breakdowns do still occur – I felt Cody Hodgson should have continued to pressure the puckhandler last night on the play that resulted in Jason Pominville scoring the winning goal – but so far, the Sabres are exceptional at killing off penalties.