October 22 2013 12:00PM
Or, perhaps "struggles" is an unnecessarily polarizing word. "Concerns" could be more appropriate. The Leafs do have the 7th best penalty kill in the NHL, via traditional measures. Clicking at 85.3%, the Leafs are hanging around where they were last season at 87.9% when they were second in the league.
The noticeable difference between the Leafs 2013 penalty kill and the Leafs 2014 penalty kill is the amount of shots they've given up when down a man. At 4-on-5 last season the Leafs allowed 41.9 shots against them per 60 minutes. They were 5th in the league in that regard. This season, Toronto has given up 68.5 shots against per 60 while on the PK, down to 27th in the league and scrunched between Edmonton and Buffalo.
October 21 2013 11:36AM
A lot of writers have picked up on the Leafs problems at 5-on-5. It's been obvious there's a deficiency there. James Mirtle in the Globe and Lance Hornby in the Sun took different approaches in looking at where the Leafs need an added boost. The quotes from Hornby's piece seem to indicate the team thinks they can do better. I'd agree, but not because I think the Leafs have an inherent ability to out-work opposing teams 5-on-5, I believe they have a lot more skill in the lineup and that's going unused. A focus on getting pucks in and getting pucks out takes away from all the forward skill in the lineup (In this Steve Buffery piece, Carlyle explicitly suggested "skill plays" were to blame for Leaf turnovers).
But there's still not a tonne of reasons to be concerned at five-on-five. Hockey Analyis says that the team has scored 15 and allowed 15 in that situation, but it's not like they were totally dominant in goal differential there a year ago. The Leafs were +8 in goal-differential at 5-on-5, with a 52% goals for rate. It was 9th in the league. Good, but not crazy good. The Leafs benefit from being an above-average powerplay team and they had the second best penalty kill in the league, allowing just 4.1 goals per 60 minutes at 4-on-5, and 41.7 shots against (5th).
October 20 2013 05:16PM
We talk about the Leafs coming down to earth, Cameron Diaz, and drinking in Scotland.
October 20 2013 04:47PM
The Blackhawks are good-ish.
Sure Bernier let in a bit of a stinker to start the game, but he was the Leafs' best player by a mile.
Jeff Veillette (Jeffler)
October 20 2013 04:01PM
The Toronto Marlies / Hamilton Bulldogs rivalry may be the most repetitive in professional hockey. Partially due to proximity, and partially due to the AHL's concept of scheduling, the two teams face each other twice every preseason, and a whopping dozen times over the course of the regular season. On one hand, having 18% of guaranteed games against the same team can be stale to some, but makes the games very heated. Not only are you developing these players to become NHLers, you're developing them go have pre-existing hatred once they get there. This plays out well for the Leafs and Habs; just look at how Nazem Kadri lines up against, well, anybody under 23 in Montreal. In that sense, the repetition yeilds entertainment rewards.
Neither team is thinking about that on the ice, though. They're focusing on two points, and today was Game 1 of those dozen matchups. The Marlies made the best of it,, and walked out with a 2-1 win.