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The Special Teams

Started by Peter D., October 25, 2011, 10:33:14 AM

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Quote from: Saint Nik on October 25, 2011, 11:15:19 AM

One of the things that I think is hurting them is that if the Leafs' plan is what we've seen with a lot of the puck on the perimeter and shots from the point then they don't really have a variety of weapons from the point. Phaneuf has been good so far but other than him I'm not sure I'm convinced that there's a danger when the puck is with any other of the defensemen. Gardiner is probably the closest at this point but even he's been having trouble getting decent shots through.

If they're going to give Franson a shot at all I'd like to see what he can do with that so called howitzer with the man advantage, I might even try him on the left side for the one timer. Past that if his shot is more 'seeing eye' then I'd still rather see what they have in him, could be that between his play and mouth Wilson doesn't care too much about getting him into the lineup if they're winning, well that and Gardiner has made it interesting too.

Neither Schenn or Komi should be there leaving Gunnar as the 4th right now, I'm on the fence a little in what to think about that.
"My father was born shortly after the Wright Brothers" Charlie Duke


Quote from: Peter D. on October 25, 2011, 10:33:14 AM
As we all know and have discussed, this area has been a huge weakness under Wilson's tenure.  Whether or not it was the doing in of the team (meaning, making the playoffs or not) these past few years is up for debate.  But the talent has been put in place and the expectation is that there is no excuse now for the team to not succeed. 

For the team to reach its goal of the playoffs, it's been said the special teams have to improve immensely.  Well, 8 games in, the boys find themselves 17th in PP% and 25th in PK%.  The latter is obviously a huge area of concern. 

Perhaps we can use this thread as a way to update throughout the year the team's progress (or lack there of), discuss tendencies, praise the good things, and of course, pick apart the bad.

I'll start by focusing on the PP.  It's a new thing they're trying where the team has someone carrying up the puck through the neutral zone only to have a trailer in behind get the pucked dropped to them.  From there, they try to penetrate the zone.  I'm not certain who is in charge of the PP from the new assistants, but it must be their doing.

I just find this isn't really working.  For one, I have found that the extra two or three seconds in which the trailer picks up and carries the puck forces the remaining three players to stop dead in their tracks come the blueline.  There is no penetrating pressure since they are almost at a standstill.  With that, it's almost as if the opposing teams put a wall with 4-across and thwart any rush within seconds.

That's my perception -- perhaps others see it differently.  I don't have the solution, and don't know if the Leafs are quick enough nor strong enough to try to dump it in and retrieve it, but things have to change.


I think the idea is a version of what NJ used to do. The D man would slowly move up the ice, causing the opposition PK to slow down. Then Gomez would slingshot from behind with speed and take a drop pass and catch the other team flatfooted.

Only difference is he would carry it in past the stack of PKers at the blueline who are almost standing still at that point.

I guess the Leafs need to abandon the slingshot strategy if they are not going to have chasers with speed. It makes no sense.

Kabarle could gain the zone, Alfredsson always did this very well too.

Hughson (I think) mentioned during a recent game that the opposition has no problem with the Leaf D lugging it up the ice because they can't make a crisp pass to a rushing winger.


I like this guy.

Quote"This is getting ridiculous allowing two power-play goals every game," said a frustrated David Steckel in conversation with the Leaf Report following the game. "They won the special teams battle tonight and it was a one-goal game. If one of those goals doesn't go in, we're looking at a point and possibly getting two on the road.

"I hope guys are as tired of it as I am. We need to start taking care of it."


"We've sat down a couple times and talked as a group about things that we need to do and we've been doing them," said Steckel. "But at the same token, we haven't been doing enough."

Wilson lamented "mental mistakes" – Jaromir Jagr, like Greening, also managed a breakaway against the Leafs penalty kill earlier in the week – while Steckel pointed to a host of different issues, some that were addressed, some that were not.

"First and foremost is blocking shots or getting in shooting lanes, which we did tonight," he explained, "but they also got a bunch of shots through.

"We were aggressive tonight; they had to dump the puck in, they didn't really get easy entries and we talked about that, stepping up and supporting our [defence]. It's funny; we do a lot of the things right, but not everything."



I think that the main problem with the pk is too little movement, too little pressure. The leafs are basically just handing over the control to the opponent. Remember the puck can always be moved faster than any player. And other teams constantly take advantage of this. Oh, by the way, I think I found the role model for the leafs pk:



The Leafs were a combined +20 last night. If they could learn to kill penalties they would be making their lives a lot easier.

They sit atop the standings in the division, conference and league but the goal differential for them is just +3 compared to other teams around them that are at +13, +11, +8, +7, +6, +5.

I want to be excited about this team and where they are after a dozen games, but there are several signs that point in the wrong direction and the penalty kill is the most glaring right now.

Hopefully they can tighten this up and get the speacial teams rolling.



good read and visual explanation why the Leafs have such problems to kill a penalty


Down Goes Brown:

Loser: Toronto Maple Leafs - The revamped assistant coaching staff is already confusing players with talk of a complex new penalty-killing system, replacing the past years' strategy of everyone standing around asking each other "Hey, am I crazy or is one of us missing?"

I guess the new coaching stuff did squat.


I think that fans are making too many excuses for it. Young players, poor goalies, players not doing what they should etc. Even awful teams could be taught the art of penalty killing. But without pressure you're doomed, most coaches will tell you that. I did however read that Wilson had one of the best pk's of all time with Washington one season, however this was likely before all changes in the league. It's more based on speed now and you have to adjust to that. Does anyone seriously think that you can have a good powerplay if you almost stand still with no pressure? I think that most players are not used to that either.


Quote from: Potvin29 on November 07, 2011, 11:17:42 PM
Mirtle the turtle with an article about the PK:


The first half of the article blames the goaltending.  You get a bad SV% when 4 out of 5 shots end up being quality scoring chances.  There is no doubt that some better goaltending needs to take place, but I think the bigger issue is poor rotation and a box that allows outside passes but then still manages to leave guys open in the middle for rebounds.

I think another interesting thing might be in the stat mentioned with Dupuis.  He has been on the ice for 3 PP goals in 29 minutes.  He plays the 2nd most PK time/game among forwards, and yet has come out of the lineup twice for Jay Rosehill.  Why take a guy who has been mildly effective on the thing your team struggles with, for a guy who can't play hockey?

As for the mental issue, yeah, I think that is a problem.  Every time they give up a PP goal, they have to be thinking about how bad it is, but at the same time, there have been enough new players added to the lineup that it seems odd to blame it on that.  I doubt Steckel came in worrying about how bad the PK was  and how he was going to contribute to compoundthe problem. 


It seems to me most of the PP goals against are coming from  point shots (deflections, screens, straight in...). It also seems that the opposition point guys are getting the pucks from bad clearing attempts from Leaf PKers.

The Leaf forwards come down deep to support the D in their zone...as they are told (Wilson advocates this) and I understand why. But now the forwards are standing still with the puck deep in their zone, along the half-boards with oodles of pressure on them, they try to get it up the boards and the opposing D corals it and the Leafs are back on their heels again.

They do this 5 on 5 every game too. The Leafs turn it over on the half-boards all night. It's just magnified on the PK because it turns into quality scoring chances.


Quote from: drummond on November 03, 2011, 12:29:15 PM

good read and visual explanation why the Leafs have such problems to kill a penalty

Excellent breakdown of what ails the Leafs' PK.  Guess they need to go 'back to school'!


Quote from: drummond on November 03, 2011, 12:29:15 PM

good read and visual explanation why the Leafs have such problems to kill a penalty

QuoteGreg Cronin did coach the best NCAA penalty kill ever

Did not know that.

You're right

We have no right to refer to them as special teams - unless it's used in the "short school bus" context.
There's valid reasons for the limited interest. Get out of your basement if you dare. The real world will bend you over.
Adios Chachi

Optimus Reimer

What's so special about the Leafs PP or PK other than the fact they are slated for near or dead last again?