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Leafs secondary scoring, performance bonus update, officiating thoughts: Leaflets

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Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Jon Steitzer
9 months ago
It’s always rare to have a Saturday off Leafs hockey, assuming that they are still playing. Maybe it doesn’t feel as strange in May to not be watching the Leafs on a Saturday night, but given how the series has gone so far having a day to re-engage or hopefully a day for Sergei Bobrovsky to slip out of whatever zone he is in could be beneficial. I’m sure we all had thoughts at one point or another where we saw Toronto making it to the second round only to be swept. I just didn’t think we’d actually be living it or living it at the hands of the Florida Panthers. There is still time for the Leafs to right their ship, just not a lot of it.

Chances need to come from outside the big four

So far in the playoffs Ryan O’Reilly is 15th out of Leafs players when it comes to 5v5 shots per 60. Calle Jarnkrok is 20th, with only Erik Gustafsson behind him. Jarnkrok and O’Reilly, along with the much more expected Noel Acciari are at the bottom of the heap when it comes to Leafs forwards with shots, individual corsi, individual fenwick, but the numbers for all three improve when you look at their individual expected goals, high danger corsi, or scoring chances. In short, they are still making the high percentage plays but they haven’t been generating as much as you’d hope to see from top nine forwards.
Alex Kerfoot is another should be top nine forward that you can lump into this mess and while he is more of a depth option, it’s still difficult to determine what Sam Lafferty is supposed to be adding to this group as well and Michael Bunting only has one point in the playoffs, although it is worth noting that at least the chances are there for him.
With Knies out, it gets tougher, and while I’m not saying that the Leafs core four shouldn’t be better against the Panthers, it’s on the rest of the Leafs forward group to apply a bit of pressure as well.

No bonus carryovers for the Leafs

In some good news for next season, the Leafs will have their full amount of cap space to work with as there won’t be any performance bonuses seeping into next year. And in even better news, the Boston Bruins will be one of the teams most impacted by the carryover with a $4.5M cap hit. The Bruins will have roughly $6M to sign or replace Jeremy Swayman, Patrice Bergeron, David Krecji, Nick Foligno, Dmitri Orlov, Tyler Bertuzzi, Garnett Hathaway, and others. The Bruins only have 6 forwards and 1 goaltender under contract for next season so they will definitely be downgrading their lineup and requiring some additional players to be moved out. Ready your tiny violins.
The Canadiens are another Atlantic team with a notable cap carryover and that too is amusing because all of their remaining cap space will probably be spent on Cole Caufield’s next contract. All eggs will need to be in the youth movement basket next year, but I’ll avoid laughing at their situation until after the draft lottery.

Officiating/Game Management is a sideshow at best

I normally am pretty quiet when it comes to complaining about officiating. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an absolute disaster, but generally I operate under the idea that officiating and game management are a plague on the NHL that impacts every team equally, so I ignore it. I certainly want to do that now and not go full “the refs are out to get the Leafs” here, but feel I will dance over that line a couple of times especially when you look at what has gone on.
First, let’s start in a more rational general sense. The fact that on any given night what is being talked about the most in the playoffs are missed calls, under-penalization of plays involving injuries, soft makeup calls to balance out the penalties or to give the trailing team a fighting chance, and the additional sideshow of five minute major reviews. The NHL refuses to let their skill game shine and bring in new audiences and instead we are stuck watching players try to behead each other with elbows, seeing a 2 minute penalty for it, and the team that took the initial penalty being rewarded with a soft call moments later to balance out the penalty ledger. Do you think that NHL teams aren’t aware of the penalty ledger?
With game management alive and well it seems that teams are far too comfortable playing outside the rules when they know there is an imbalance. Heaven forbid the refs have to answer for a 5 to 1 penalty count when one side clearly warranted that situation. Alas, that’s where we are at, and in the Gary Bettman era I wouldn’t count on it changing, so expect that to be a regular part of life and the playoffs will continue to suffer for it.
Look at that, I was able to make it through without making it too much about the Leafs and sounding like a conspiracy nut. So on that note, I’ll just say that we better not see Wes McCauley ref another Leafs game in these playoffs.

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