Preview: Game #14 Leafs @ Hurricanes - Drawing penalties

Cam Charron
February 14 2013 11:06AM

Just because it's an obscure stat category…

  Penalties Drawn
Dustin Brown 11
Evander Kane 8
David Perron 8
Claude Giroux 8
8 Others Tied at 7

The eight tied for fifth place on this list with seven drawn penalties? Carl Hagelin, Erik Karlsson, John Tavares, Alex Ovechkin, Patrice Bergeron, Evgeni Malkin, Jeff Skinner and Nazem Kadri.

Dustin Brown is a perennial league leader in drawn penalties. It's generally a repeatable talent, with the same guys generally at the top of the league year after year. Behind The Net calculates "penalties drawn" as both a raw and a rate statistic, which is useful, since the NHL has been tracking which player has drawn a penalty since the last lockout but doesn't compile the data anywhere on its website.

The Maple Leafs are tied for 4th in the NHL in powerplay time yet just 16th in powerplay goals. They have a very simplistic powerplay that involves getting their best players the puck, creating no movement in front or on the side, but the best player just sort of waiting for a defenceman to move so he can shoot it.

Frankly, Toronto have left four or five goals out on the ice so far this season thanks to a pretty inane powerplay, despite having a guy who is really good at drawing penalties. Well, two, but one of them is hurt. Here are the Leafs' leaders in penalties drawn per 60 minutes of 5-on-5 ice time:

  2011   2012   2013
Kadri 2.2 Kadri 1.6 Lupul 3.7
Lupul 1.4 Ashton 1.5 Kadri 2.9
MacArthur 1.2 MacArthur 1.0 Franson 1.6
Armstrong 1.2 Lupul 1.0 Grabovski 1.6
Grabovski 1.0 Crabb 0.8 MacArthur 1.5
Boyce 1.0 Grabovski 0.8    

Kadri is up there, so is Joffrey Lupul. I'm surprised Phil Kessel isn't up there as well since the other two Leafs' forward puck carriers are prominently displayed in the Top Five each season. Carolina's Jeff Skinner led the league a couple of seasons ago and still dangerous in this regard. The Leafs play him tonight, but the important thing, in the special teams numbers I post below, is that Carolina has an awful penalty kill this season.

Broadcast Info:

Puck Drop: 7 PM EST

TV: Leafs TV

By the numbers:

  Carolina Toronto
Fenwick Close 49.22% 45.85%
5v5 GF/60 3.0 2.8
5v5 GA/60 2.0 2.1
Team Shooting % 8.6% 10.6%
Team Save % 0.935 0.934
Team PDO 1.021 1.04

Special teams:

  Carolina Toronto
PP Success 17.0% (19th) 13.8% (24th)
5v4 GF/60 4.9 (21st) 4.5 (22nd)
5v4 SF/60 49.5 (12th) 46.1 (16th)
PK Success 71.7% (28th) 79.1% (21st)
4v5 GA/60 11.5 (30th) 6.7 (18th)
4v5 SA/60 65.8 (30th) 49.7 (19th)

(Numbers via  behindthenet.ca  and  NHL.com )

Setup:

Carolina rank 28th, 30th and 30th in the three penalty killing measures. While they kill off more attempts than Anaheim or Winnipeg, when they allow goals they certainly allow them more efficiently at 11.5 goals against per 60 minutes. That's about 0.4 of a goal every two minutes, which is absurdly bad, and about twice what the NHL average usually is.

So nothing better to revive an anaemic powerplay than a poor PK unit, no?

Last time the Hurricanes and the Leafs played each other, Toronto got off to a huge start, but scored a single goal before the Canes settled in, and then they simply out-played Toronto in the second and third periods to take a 4-1 win. It was a pretty standard Leafs weekday home loss. Good start, poor execution midway through, and then half the building had already left with five minutes to go to beat traffic with the game already decided.

Toronto take their act on the road tonight after their first really good home win of the season a couple of nights ago against Philadelphia. The Hurricanes have won their last two and four of their last five and sit at a comfy first place early on in the Southeast Division, despite just coming off a six-game road trip. Their possession numbers are low but they've played a lot away from home, so they're more dangerous than that number may suggest. Former Leaf Jiri Tlusty is on a "hot streak" that will surely be dissected by the brilliant minds on the Leafs TV broadcast. He has five goals in his last three.

Here's how Carolina's lines shake out:

Alexander Semin - Eric Staal - Jiri Tlutsy
Patrick Dwyer - Jordan Staal - Jeff Skinner
Jussi Jokinen - Chad LaRose - Drayson Bowman
Tim Wallace - Tim Brent - Andreas Nodl

Justin Faulk - Jay Harrison
Tim Gleason - Joe Corvo
Jamie McBain - Joni Pitkanen

Dan Ellis
Cam Ward

Dan Ellis will start, and don't be fooled by his .939 save percentage and 1.99 goals against average. That's only over four games. He's a backup through and through. He has a career average .909 save percentage, which I think is more meaningful.

Toronto: in the absence of Matt Frattin and James Reimer:

James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Nik Kulemin - Mikhail Grabovski - Leo Komarov
Clarke MacArthur - Nazem Kadri - Jay McClement
Frazer McClaren - David Steckel - Colton Orr

Dion Phaneuf - Korbinian Holzer
John-Michael Liles - Mike Kostka
Cody Franson - Mark Fraser

Ben Scrivens
Jussi Rynnas

Here's hoping Jussi Rynnas isn't put in a position to play too much over this next stretch. The Leafs have two back-to-backs over the three-week period, and none until Tuesday of next week. I don't say "I hope Rynnas doesn't play" because he is surely awful, but I say "I hope Rynnas doesn't play" in the sense you hope Ben Scrivens plays passable hockey. He was the opening day starter for the Leafs but he's just not talented enough to be "the guy". James Reimer was very important for the team; the Leafs are 26th in shots against as a team and 12th in goals against.

The last time the two teams met up was at the Air Canada Centre. Randy Carlyle matched up linearly, with Bozak against Eric, Grabovski and Jordan, Kadri against LaRose and McClement against Brent. Frattin's injury forces McClement up to the third line and lets David Steckel draw back into the lineup. This is odd for me since for the first few games, McClement saw some time with Grabovski and Kulemin while MacArthur, Kadri and Komarov lined up for a full game. I think there's some room for shuffling, but given how well that first line has played lately, particularly Bozak and van Riemsdyk, I don't think they'll move.

(Lines and matchup info via Left Wing Lock)

Game Day Notes:

Mounting Injuries will test surprising Maple Leafs (Jonas Siegel, TSN)

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Cam Charron is a BC hockey fan that writes about hockey on many different websites including this one.
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#1 Chuck
February 14 2013, 01:10PM
Trash it!
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Kessel isn't up there because he'll pass the puck or shoot it before anyone gets near him.

Although we've seen it in previous seasons, I don't think I've seen Kessel blow past a single defender this season (certainly haven't seen any Kessel breakaways), forcing the D to try to hold or tie him up forcing a penalty.

When breaking into the offensive zone, Kessel's MO so far as been to speed in to back up the D, and then hit the breaks making room for him to make the pass. I'd like to see him try to play through or around the D for a scoring chance (or draw a penalty)

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