Raking Leafs

Mixing metaphors and casting cliches about hockey and the Maple Leafs for the ether's pleasure since MCMLXVII.


Dominant, yet ineffective

Much has been said about the imposing physical play of Sundin, Poni, and Antro, and what has been said should not be considered inaccurate; the line controls the puck along the boards almost at will. However this opinion is just incomplete. If the idea is to score, and I would assume this to be true, and if time of puck possession in the offensive zone was set against the goal production of this line, I don't think the praise would be so forthcoming.

Captain Mats said as much last week, about needing to be "more effective." What he should've said was "either Poni supports the puck and Antro plants himself in front of the net, or vice versa, and nary a scoring change is generated." It drives me nuts watching this line control the puck for extended periods of time with two players facing the boards while a third sits in a position that is either too acute of an angle for a quick shot to be what sports types call 'high percentage,' or blocks a wall-sitter from coming to the front of the net with an efficacy. And to further magnify this deficiency the so called third line of Pohl, Bates, and Kilger(of late) cycle the puck with speed and anticipation.

Anticipation. The word of the day. Sundin, Poni, and Antro lack this attribute when cycling the puck. Of course there are exceptions to this criticism, but ask yourself how many times have you seen the passing lane open up only for Poni to recognize it late and pass after the lane has closed, or Antro waiting for the centering pass so close to the goal line you can see Sundin's facial expression say "Guess I'll have to drive the net for a wrap-around"? And don't get me started on the futility of the line when Sundin is playing away from the puck in the slot, or should I say at the half boards as a safety outlet.

Don't get me wrong. I appreciate how often the first line gets the puck deep and plays their shift in the opposition's zone. This contributes to the W column considerably. And they do produce offense regularly, mainly consisting of the ugly variety. But I don't think it is too much to ask that the trio exhibit more chemistry and timing and goals. All three should be appearing as a unit in box scores atleast once a game.

I'm not sure what the solution is, but the P(uck) P(ossessioninoffensivezone):G(oals) ratio ain't what it should be.

BONUS: David 'hockeyanalysis' Johnson has a nice side-by-side-by-side visual and an accompanying analysis of the three popular point distribution schemes. The results are amusing in a depressing way, as the GMs have rejected any change to the current set-up because 'fans love it' 'the races are great' and 'we've changed so much recently' none of which address the inconsistency of awarding three points for some games while doling out only two for others. GMs want to redirect the conversation away from logic to selling hope, er I mean close competition.

I was under the impression that the current system made play-off races less exciting because there was less vertical movement of teams. David points out that the current system is less exciting because the current system doesn't make the races tight enough. This is a point I think GMs will appreciate, simply because if there team is closer to making it, selling hope becomes that much easier.

Link it to their bottom line, and they just might listen.

QUOTE OF THE MONTH: "We will entertain them by walking around the concourse holding hands and skipping around, winking and waving," - Mike Peca responding to Tucker and himself not playing in front of the Nassau Coliseum crowd.

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  • At 9:59 AM, Blogger TreeBob said…

    Personally I like the system the way it is. I think Johnson is looking at the stats and is seeing what he wants to see. Yeah it made it better for Edmonton, but it made it worse for Boston. These are only two teams, and I am sure the rest are just as inconsistent.

    So what are your thoughts on why TO is not making any moves at all? Do you think there is anything coming down the pipe? I don't think our GM is done, and we may have some goalie movement(again) before the end of the week.

    Great looking blog, even if it is a Leafs blog! Later


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