Having been an NHL fan for three decades now, I'm able to enjoy almost every aspect of the game. However, there is almost nothing I find more enjoyable than watching a good penalty kill. This likely stems from growing up as a Washington Capitals fan in the 1980's. As a Caps fan in those days, I was able to watch Doug Jarvis, arguably one of the best penalty killers ever, ply his trade for 3+ seasons. You come to appreciate a skill when watching someone who does it well.
There are a slew of reasons to revel in watching penalty kills (PKs). Justin Bourne wrote a post at Puck Daddy last month detailing why, from a player's perspective, he isn't a big fan of penalty killing. His reasons for not liking penalty killing, which make complete sense from a player's standpoint, are, in several cases, why as I fan I love PK guys.
First, players who play on the PK give up minutes in which they would be more likely to pad their offensive stats. Sure penalty killing forwards can put in a shortie every once in awhile, but the fact is guys are less likely to get points playing on the penalty kill versus playing at even strength or on the power play. Playing on the penalty is about sacrifice this means giving up numbers for the team.
This brings us to the second reason I love penalty killers. They sacrifice not only stats, but also their bodies. These guys willingly dive in front of 100 mph slap shots. At best, if a guy blocks a puck he likely will have a nice bruise for the next couple of days. At worst, he breaks a bone.
My final reason for loving penalty killers is they are hockey's underdogs. Not only do they play with one or two less men on the ice than their opponents, but they are normally facing the best offensive players on the opposing team. This means they have to play smarter than the opposition and outwork them. Who doesn't love it when the underdogs win?