PK Switches and Keys to Applying Pressure, with Ryan Huska

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When Ryan Huska stepped on stage at TCS Live in Ann Arbor this past summer, it was a full circle moment.

The product of Trail, BC was the first ever presenter at our first ever conference, back in 2011. At the time, Huska was coaching the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets and his presentation then focused on broad penalty kill advice. Fast-forward 12 years and the new coach of the Calgary Flames once again presented on killing penalties, but his vast experience now allows him to teach the nitty gritty.

Huska, who spent five seasons as Assistant Coach of the Flames before being recently promoted to bench boss, has run the sixth best PK in the NHL since joining Calgary. Fundamentally, PK switches and applying pressure are two ways to improve your penalty kills and the 48-year-old’s 30-minute presentation focused on that.

Huska emphasized there is not one correct way to design a penalty kill and that it should depend on the personnel of a team. However, no matter what style is chosen, teamwork and communication need to be present. Huska stresses that having one less skater on the ice should make teamwork come naturally and that communication between teammates can help out with other keys on the penalty kill such as protecting the middle of the ice.

Like anything in hockey, repetition is key. Huska knows the focus of practice is usually the power play, but it is crucial to reserve time to practice the kill as well. Watch his presentation and you’ll understand why!

Noteworthy timestamps:

  • 1:10 Penalty kill styles
  • 2:45 Which is best: Aggressive and passive styles?
  • 5:50 Keys to teaching exchanges 
  • 7:00 Importance of repetitions 
  • 8:45 Face-Off Exchanges
  • 10:15 Up Ice Exchanges
  • 12:00 Defensive Zone Exchanges - Forwards
  • 19:40 Defensive Zone Exchanges - Forwards and Defencemen
  • 25:45 Diamond approach
  • 26:25 PK practice ideas 

Ryan Huska