Forward lines:Lupul-Connolly-Kessel, Kulemin-Grabovski-Frattin, MacArthur-Lombardi-Kadri, Crabb-Steckel-Boyce
Defence pairings: Phaneuf-Aulie, Gardiner-Franson, Gunnarsson-Schenn
Goaltenders: Reimer (Loss 58:42 minutes played, 32 saves, 3 GA), Gustavsson (0:00)
While the second half of 2011 has provided evidence of marked improvements for the Maple Leafs, one thing remains abundantly clear. The penalty-kill is pathetic. Horribly so.
If Ron Wilson’s New Year’s resolution is anything but a turnaround for that facet of Toronto’s special teams, the contract extension that he was granted on Christmas Day will be worth less than the Red Rider BB gun that he also gleefully received, according to his famous tweet.
Toronto surrendered a pair of power-play goals in their 3-2 loss to Winnipeg on Saturday at MTS Centre. The Jets’ other goal came just seconds after the expiration of another man advantage.
The numbers don’t lie:
-The Leafs have given up 41 goals on the penalty-kill this year, by far the most in the NHL. The second-worst team in that category is San Jose, who have surrendered 30.
-The Leafs’ overall goal-differential on the season is minus-7. If their PK could be ‘only’ as bad as the Sharks in terms of goals surrendered, the figure would be plus-4. No telling what that may have translated to, for points in the standings.
-Toronto’s PK efficiency is a dismal 72.3 %. In each of Wilson’s first two years behind the bench; 2008/09 and 2009/10, the Leafs had the worst penalty-kill rating at 74.7%.
With the loss the team falls to 10th place in the Eastern Conference, and out of a playoff spot for the first time this season.
The month of January will prove to be the benchmark by which the Leafs post-season aspirations are measured. Toronto plays 9 of its 12 games at home this month.
Tyler Bozak (shoulder) was placed on injured reserve and will be out of action for at least a week….Matthew Lombardi, who had been out of the lineup since Nov. 17 with the same ailment, was reactivated for last night’s game…The matchup was the Leafs’ first return to Winnipeg since Feb. 28, 1996…The last two teams to beat Toronto on New Year’s Eve are the 2011 Jets and 1977 Flames, both of which moved from – or would eventually move out of – Atlanta.