December 9, 2007

Man Disadvantage

In a game where special teams could have meant everything, the Leafs had a power outage rather than a power play.

Quite often when the Leafs play a team like the Senators, you'll hear from the announcers, or the staff and players in between periods speak of how the buds simply can not trade chance for chance, or play 'run and gun' with an offensive force. But last night against the Boston Bruins it was more of a 'crawl and trap' game the Leafs could ill afford to take part in. Alas, when the opposition is set on clogging up the neutral zone, there isn't a whole lot left to do other than playing a dump and chase game.

Clearly a dump and chase game is about as foreign to the Leafs as a defensive system. For when you've spent half of your cap on transition generating defencemen, dumping a puck is like asking a fish to fly. So the best thing to do, would be to continue preaching a puck possession game with some speed behind it in order to draw a penalty or two between the bluelines. And of course this plan can only work when you have a powerplay worth playing in hopes to acquire more than 2 shots every 4 man advantages.

Perhaps the biggest fault of Maurice's to date, is that he does not grasp the 'what have you done for me lately?' method. There has been little reason to put faith in last season's crew as Wellwood has yet to successfully deliver a puck cross crease to Tucker. And the duo of McCabe and Kaberle fail to utilize the positioning which game them much success in the past. Jason Blake continues to get PP assignments as well as extra attacker duties in the final minutes, but more often than not his shots result in easy whistles rather than scoring chances. True he did manage the only Leaf goal of the night, but let's face it. Auld should have stopped that and earned himself a rather easy shutout.

The Leafs should really try and shake things up with it's man advantage. Say goodbye to Blake, Tucker and Wellwood and maybe add a 3rd D man like White into the mix.

Picture the umbrella formation with Kaberle on the blueline midway across the rink. McCabe with his shot on one side with White on the other. This way you force two of the opposition's penalty killers to stay up past the hash marks to keep with in the defensive passing lanes while leaving the other two killers on their own down low to handle guys like Sundin and Antropov.

Now I am not guaranteeing that this rather unorthodox PP unit would pay off. But what it would do, is force the opposition to think a little. Something the Bruins didn't have to do much of last night.

Feel free to give me your own PP saving methods.