Penalty Kill Specialist

A Penalty Kill Specialist in ice hockey is a player who excels at defending their team while shorthanded due to a penalty. Their primary responsibility is to prevent the opposing team from scoring a goal during the penalty kill, but they must also contribute in various other ways.

Key Responsibilities of a Power Kill Specialist

Defensive Positioning

The specialist must have a strong understanding of defensive positioning and maintain a tight defensive formation to limit the opposing team's scoring opportunities. They need to be able to anticipate the play and make quick decisions to disrupt the opponent's offensive strategies.

Shot Blocking

Penalty Kill Specialists should be willing to sacrifice their bodies to block shots. They need to position themselves effectively to get in the shooting lanes and prevent the opposing team from getting shots on goal.

Stick Checking and Active Stick

The specialist must be skilled in stick checking, using their stick to disrupt passing lanes and poke-checking the puck away from opponents. They need to have an active stick to disrupt plays and intercept passes.

Forechecking and Pressure

The Penalty Kill Specialist should be able to apply pressure on the opposing team's players, especially when they are in possession of the puck. By forechecking aggressively, they can force turnovers and clear the puck out of their defensive zone.

Clearing the Zone

When the opposing team does have possession in the defensive zone, the specialist must be able to clear the puck out of the zone. This involves making accurate passes or using techniques like rimming the puck off the boards or glass to send it down the ice.


Penalty Kill Specialists need to have effective communication with their teammates on the ice. They should communicate about the positioning, provide support, and coordinate strategies to neutralize the opponent's power play.


Winning faceoffs is crucial during penalty kills, as it allows the team to gain possession and clear the puck down the ice. A Penalty Kill Specialist may be called upon to take faceoffs and should have good faceoff skills.

Quick Transitions

When an opportunity arises, a Penalty Kill Specialist should be prepared for a quick transition to offense. If they see an opening, they can join the rush and create shorthanded scoring chances.


Penalty Kill Specialists need to play with discipline and avoid taking unnecessary penalties. They should focus on their defensive responsibilities and not engage in actions that could put their team at a further disadvantage.

Best NHL Power Kill Specialist of All Time

  • Bob Gainey: Known as one of the greatest defensive forwards of all time, Bob Gainey played for the Montreal Canadiens from 1973 to 1989. He was an exceptional penalty killer and won the Frank J. Selke Trophy, awarded to the best defensive forward, four times. Gainey's relentless work ethic and ability to neutralize opponents made him a dominant force on the penalty kill.
  • Guy Carbonneau: Another outstanding penalty killer who played for the Montreal Canadiens, Guy Carbonneau had a remarkable career from 1980 to 2000. Carbonneau's defensive prowess earned him three Frank J. Selke Trophies, and he was an integral part of the Canadiens' Stanley Cup-winning teams in 1986 and 1993. He was known for his excellent anticipation and ability to disrupt opposing power plays.
  • Jere Lehtinen: Jere Lehtinen spent his entire NHL career with the Dallas Stars from 1995 to 2010. He was an exceptional two-way forward and regarded as one of the league's premier defensive specialists. Lehtinen won the Frank J. Selke Trophy three times and was known for his intelligent positioning, excellent stick work, and relentless pursuit of the puck, making him a key asset on the penalty kill.
  • Sergei Fedorov: Although known for his offensive prowess, Sergei Fedorov was also a highly skilled penalty killer. Fedorov played for the Detroit Red Wings from 1990 to 2003 and had a brief return in 2008-2009. He possessed exceptional speed, stick-handling, and defensive instincts, allowing him to excel on both ends of the ice. Fedorov won the Frank J. Selke Trophy twice and played a significant role in the Red Wings' multiple Stanley Cup victories.
  • Steve Yzerman: While primarily recognized as an offensive star and the longtime captain of the Detroit Red Wings, Steve Yzerman was also a tremendous penalty killer. Yzerman's dedication to defensive play, strong positioning, and excellent hockey sense made him a formidable force on the penalty kill. He won the Frank J. Selke Trophy in 2000 and was instrumental in leading the Red Wings to three Stanley Cup championships during his illustrious career.