Thursday, February 19, 2009

Two Minutes (to midnight)

I was prepping a post on PK performance that's taking a bit longer than I expected (some stuff that should be easy to dig out sure is buried at NHL.com) when I stumbled across this, largely meaningless, factoid: the Ron Wilson coached Maple Leafs are currently the fourth least penalized team in the NHL. You read that right, they are 27th in times shorthanded. Here's the trend line:

2008-09 - 27th most penalized
2007-08 - 17th
2006-07 - 11th
2005-06 - 12th
Lockout
2003-04 - 5th
2002-03 - 1st (woo hoo, Leafs are #1!)

For the first time in a long time this club is actually showing some signs of discipline.

Clearly this isn't what Fletcher had in mind when he traded for Hollwegg, but all things considered it's probably for the best as the PK is dead last and Toskala's sv% when the Buds are a man (or two) down is a chilling .852

Now, this post isn't suggesting I don't want a tough club and I know there's no correlation between times shorthanded and regular season or post-season success. And yes, everyone knows full well Anaheim won the cup as the most penalized team in the league. I just found it interesting that in all the discussion of what Ron Wilson may or may not have accomplished in his first year as coach of the Leafs, this trend hasn't been noted.

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A month or so ago I was contemplating throwing out some Iron Maiden for the title of a post. I ended up going with the Smiths instead and I heard about it in the comments. Because I care so much about my readers (all three of you - hi mum!) I went back to the days of Powerslave for this one (grade 9 if memory serves). It's a track I still have on my iPod right between Radiohead's "2+2=5(The Lukewarm)" and "21 Park Rd." by Bill King (sorry, Canadian Jazz and youtube don't seem to mix).

6 comments:

  1. Interesting. So Wilson has the Leafs playing more disciplined hockey, but does it matter when his team can't kill a penalty?

    I don't recall any Leafs team killing penalties for the year at a 73.5% rate.

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  2. Eye - I went all the way back to the 1999-2000 season and in that time no team has finished the year with a PK rate lower than 77%. The 2001 Thrashers at 77.9% had the lowest rated PK, the Leafs are really on to something.

    I still contend that much of the Leafs PK issue is tied to their goaltending. Fix the garbage between the pipes and I bet their PK results bounce back.

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  3. This post may make some run to the hills! Ron Wilson and his infinte dreams are aces high with discipline. Bring your daughter to the slaughter gang, because if this goaltending continues to play like cross-eyed mary, that PK number could sink to something akin to the number of the beast. But remember tomorrow will be a different world.

    for those not in the know, try and spot the Iron Maiden song references. There's a method to the madness there...

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  4. Karina11:31 am

    This is actually really interesting. And I'm glad to see it, if only because I don't really want to have a clone of the Anaheim team here, I want something else, because it's virtually impossible to duplicate the make up of that team.

    Still, Eyebeleaf has a point about the PK. I think it's more than just the goalies, they are incredibly passive out there for some reason.

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  5. Don't know if this helps your upcoming post about PK efficiency rates, but this is the team PK rankings for the last two Ron Wilson coached teams:

    SJ:
    2007-2008 – 1st
    2006 2007 – 14th
    2005-2006 – 23rd
    2003 2004 – 7th
    2002-2003 – 30th (RW’s first year with the team)

    Wash:
    2001-2002 – 24th
    2000-2001 – 13th
    1999-2000 – 7th
    1998 – 1999 – 15th
    1997-1998 – 1st (RW’s first year with the team)

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  6. Paul Steckley12:14 pm

    blurr1974 - Nice post!

    While poor goaltending is obviously a big part of the poor PK this year, the skaters haven't helped things much either. How many times do the Leafs have possession of the puck and not clear the zone on the PK? It's a crucial skill that all good PK players have. Unfortunately, the Leafs don't have any good PK players, in net or out of it, and that explains their abysmal PK. To copy blurr1974 and keep the Iron Maiden theme going (and why wouldn't we), this year is one of those wasted years for the Leafs' PK.

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