Tuesday, March 24, 2009

In a horror movie when the car won't start you give it one last try

As expected, this has been a pretty dismal season for the Leafs and, given the paucity of talent on this club and the preponderance of injuries, it's been difficult to get a handle on the impact of Ron Wilson in his first year with the team.

Take the Leafs special teams (please).

With such little talent up front it's surprising that their PP is 12th overall. That's a pretty respectable showing when you consider they're running Kubina, Stempniak, Blake, Stajan, and Poni as PP1.

On the PK the Leafs have been dreadful. Earlier this season they were flirting with the lowest PK rate in the NHL in nearly 20 years. I suspect the poor showing on the PK had more to do with Toskala than it did with coaching, players or systems. Gerber has played all of eight games for the Leafs and in that time the club has been killing penalties at an 80.7% clip. It's a very small sample to be sure, but it's still a vast improvement over their 30th place showing at 75%. In fact, if they could maintain their new kill rate with Gerber between the pipes it would put them in 18th in the NHL.

One other, albeit random, improvement from the Leafs this year: the dreaded shootout. If the Leafs win their next shoot-out they'll be .500 in the gimmicky extra point contest under Coach Wilson (7-7). I don't think the Leafs have ever been .500 in the shootout since it's inception, unless you count the days when the club is 0-0.

* * *

It will be interesting to see what supplementary discipline, if any, the NHL takes against Martin Gerber for his outburst late in the Caps game. The NHL has a tendency to approach supplementary discipline with as much order and precision as Jackson Pollack going at a blank canvas. Gerber bumped an official and fired a puck in their direction after a questionable goal by Laich. Under rule 41, that's an automatic game misconduct:


41.1 Game Misconduct – Any player or goalkeeper who deliberately applies physical force in any manner against an official, in any manner attempts to injure an official, physically demeans, or deliberately applies physical force to an official solely for the purpose of getting free of such an official during or immediately following an altercation shall receive a game misconduct penalty.
What remains to be seen is that firing of the puck moves Gerber into automatic suspension territory as per rule 41.3

41.3 Automatic Suspension – Category III – Any player or goalkeeper who, by his actions, physically demeans an official or physically threatens an official by (but not limited to) throwing a stick or any other piece of equipment or object at or in the general direction of an official, shooting the puck at or in the general direction of an official, spitting at or in the general direction of an official, or who deliberately applies physical force to an official solely for the purpose of getting free of such an official during or immediately following an altercation shall be suspended for not less than three (3) games.

At this point in the year, there are certainly worse options than seeing Cujo get the start for two or three games. Maybe one of Reese, Healy or Potvin can come out of retirement serve as his back-up.

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