It’s a word we hear a lot during the Stanley Cup playoffs, far more often than we do during the regular season. If you’ve watched all 16 games in Round 1 so far, you’ve probably heard “momentum” discussed several or even dozens of times per game.

Sometimes in sports, however, proclamations are made without being substantiated with data.

We’ve arguably already established that momentum does not really exist game-to-game during the Stanley Cup playoffs. Six of eight series are tied 1-1, after all.

But does it exist within each game? I believe the answer is yes.

How do we define it?

Momentum is up for grabs. The penalty kill can steal it by scoring shorthanded, stifling the power play, forcing them to reload 200-feet from the offensive zone. Penalty killing success can create frustration – and that may be a big swing, because the players you are frustrating are typically the opposition’s stars. I think there is a clear link to frustration created on the penalty kill that bleeds over into ensuing 5-on-5 play.