The 2011 NHL Research Development and Orientation Camp is something of a mad science lab, with 30 NHL prospects and two NHL head coaches on hand to test all the variables and hypotheses. One of the more interesting and derisive concepts would be incredibly punitive for penalty kills: what if a shorthanded team could receive an icing call?
That’s one of the rules that is being put to the test today, so leave it to Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma to make a bold move to try to take advantage of it. NHL.com’s Dan Rosen reveals that Bylsma pulled his goalie when his team earned a power play late in the second period of the test game to try to capitalize on the opposing penalty kill’s inability to ice the puck. This essentially created a 6-on-4 advantage with a significant risk since an accurate clear from the shorthanded side could find its way into the power play unit’s open net. Rosen reports that the tactic backfired because the shorthanded team got the puck out of the zone and created a 2-on-1.
Obviously, this is a testing ground so the stakes are much lower. Bylsma joked about the situation, saying “I’m fired.”
Bylsma wasn’t the only inventive coach who had some interesting feedback about that strategy. Washington Capitals bench boss Bruce Boudreau said that he would tell his penalty killers to risk an icing call if the other team had an empty net and also stated that icing the puck would remain a common strategy on the PK, even with the added drawbacks.
Washington coach Bruce Boudreau, who was sitting in the stands here watching it all unfold, understood Bylsma’s tactic and didn’t mind the risk, but if he were coaching the shorthanded team he would have told them to fire the puck down the ice regardless of the potential for icing being called and the ensuing faceoff coming back into his defensive zone.
“I’m going to try for the free goal,” Boudreau told NHL.com. “Shoot it down and take your chances.”
Even though the shorthanded team would not be allowed to make a line change if they’re called for icing, he feels the break between the whistle and the ensuing faceoff is long enough to give the players on the ice a breather.
“When you’re under pressure and you’re shorthanded, I don’t think it will stop you from icing the puck because you’ve got to get it out of the zone,” Boudreau said. “That’s the No. 1 thing.”
I pondered the merits of icing on the PK a bit last summer, but I ultimately believe that it would be an excessive punishment for shorthanded squads. What’s your take, though? Would you like to see that rule implemented or not? Either way, I wouldn’t expect many coaches to take the risk in the situation Bylsma was in during R & D camp today – and that would include Bylsma himself.