Kaberle and Wellwood are key components given their ability to make finesse passes. Before Wellwood went down with injury, followed closely by Tucker in mid-December, the Leafs were 29 for 126 with the man advantage, a success rate of 23.0 per cent.
Since, they've sputtered scoring on only 14.3 per cent of their chances (34 for 237). Getting Kaberle back would mean reuniting their top unit for the first time since Dec.16.
"It's good to have him back on the ice," said Maurice. "We need what he has to offer. Whether he's in the lineup, we have to find different ways to move the puck and be successful."(link)
When Paul Maurice took the helm last summer he commented that he wouldn't be messing with what wasn't broken, and in particular the only thing that wasn't busted in the 05-06 campaign was the powerplay that was among the best in the league. This trend continued for the first few months of the 06-07 season, despite many doubts that Allison would be sorely missed.
At the time I agreed with this course of action, and even got over-excited when early in the season the powerplay was showing a new wrinkle with players moving quickly away from the puck, confusing and disrupting the four man box defensive scheme opening up new scoring opportunities.
Kyle Wellwood admirably filled leadfoot's shoes, providing a deft passing touch down low. However, once Kyle was slowed by an injury, more serious than originally diagnosed that ultimately took him out of the line-up for three months, the powerplay began to sputter. Tucker's effectiveness as a trigger man waned, and about two weeks later Darcy himself was shelved due to a foot injury.
Now, I don't have access to information as to the level of involvement the coaching staff has with the powerplay, or if it has been left solely to the players. I highly doubt the latter, as it would be professionally irresponsible, and would conflict with reports of practices being dedicated to both sides of special teams. However, a powerplay can not solely rely on personnel, and this seems to be the case with the Leafs. There have to be schemes at the ready when first unit players go down. Even PP2 tries to mimic the top unit, both in structure and play choice.
I'm not sure where I'm going with all this, but I'd like to see a good powerplay performance from White, Carlo, Steen, Stajan and O'Neill that takes what the defense gives them in terms of passing lanes and pressure/space and creates quality scoring chances. Being a man up isn't rocket science, but it does require every bit of smarts and effort needed at even strength, something this team has drastically improved upon from a year ago.
Come on boys. Get your head in the game.