Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Maple Leafs 'Special' teams since the NHL lockout: Penalty Kill

Bond villain, Dallas Eakins.

The Maple Leafs have had a troubled past with the Penalty Kill since the lockout. They have been out of the bottom five once since hockey started up again, when they were ranked 24th in 05/06. Since then their average ranking is 29th.

In a world where the average PK percentage has gone up each of the last 4 years, the Leafs simply have not been able to keep up. They have become worse and worse until last year, only to slip again this year. While it can be said that the Leafs have been able to take less penalties then the average NHL team, they negate that fact by being able to be scored against at will when they take a penalty.

Some blame for a horrible Penalty Kill could lie with the fact that Maple Leaf goaltenders since the lockout have been AHL quality. However, these goalies SV%'s may look quite a bit better with a league average PK.

Since Brian Burke has taken the helm he's made a point, several times, that the Marlies and Leafs will be using the same systems so it will be easier for injury replacements to jump into the NHL. While the Maple Leafs have been barely keeping their heads above water, the Marlies have been flourishing on the Penalty Kill. It would seem as though they have decided to use the strategy that works best for the AHL. While I'm sure this isn't true, its tough to figure out why the two teams, using the same systems, are so far apart in terms of success rate.

I would be very surprised if the Marlies coach, Dallas Eakins, hasn't sat in with Brian Burke and Ron Wilson to brainstorm the problems they are experiencing, and if he wasn't penciled in for an assistant coaching job beside Wilson next year, with the big job his, if things go south.

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