Putting heart into penalty kills

JIM CRESSMAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 12:56 PM ET

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Canadian junior assistant coach Peter DeBoer takes a simple approach to penalty killing. "I think it's more about determination than X's and O's, and we had a lot of determination tonight," DeBoer said after Canada killed off a pair of five-on-threes in its games with Sweden yesterday.

Referee Milan Minar of the Czech Republic had Nigel Dawes and Clarke MacArthur in the penalty box for a stretch of 48 seconds late in the first period, then early in the second, Colin Fraser, Jeff Carter and Shea Weber were in the sin-bin putting Canada down two skaters for a full two minutes.

Sweden barely got a shot on goal.

"Tonight, the key was everyone was willing to sacrifice," said DeBoer, who coaches the Kitchener Rangers in the OHL and is orchestrating the penalty killing here.

"We blocked a lot of shots at the key times. We got in great shooting lanes and when we needed a great save, we got one from Jeff Glass."

Defenceman Dion Phaneuf of the WHL's Red Deer Rebels and a Calgary Flames' first-rounder, saw a lot of ice time during the five-on-threes.

"Any time you can kill off a five-on-three it's huge," he said.

"I knew I just had to be smart with my minutes and when I get called up I have to go out and do my job, no matter if it's 30 seconds or a couple of minutes (which he did on the second occasion).

"I was definitely out there for a bit, but the rest of the guys really did a great job and it was a huge kill.

"Hard work is the key to special teams and if you don't have that, you can't really start to do anything."

Canadian captain Michael Richards, who turned a one-on-two rush into two scoring chances while killing the first five-on-three, said "the key is pressing the other team up ice and in the zone.

"We're not giving them too much time to make plays with it. We're right on top of them and we're really building off each other.

"We're taking emotion out there and we're killing a penalty off and really using it to our advantage."

Richards said it's the same penalty kill the Rangers use.

"Pete really strives for us to be focussed and to have a lot of jump in the defensive zone.

"When you have guys right on you, you can't make too many plays with the puck. It makes it a lot harder, anyway, and I think with the defence we have we're really aggressive and we're really limiting the time and space of the opponents."

The Canadians were also willing to get in front of shots.

"We've got guys dropping on pucks and they were doing that on the five-on-threes and when guys on the bench see that, it really gets everybody going when they see guys putting their body on the line," Richards said.

Defenceman Braydon Coburn of the Portland Winter Hawks summed it up:

"Penalty killing's a real heart-and-soul kind of thing. The guys really did a good job with that."


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