Toronto Maple Leafs – Stats that stand out
Leafs Short Handed
Right out of the gate the Toronto Maple Leafs have been short-handed a total of 18 times in the first 5 games of the season. Leafs Coach Randy Carlyle has had a shortened season last year and training camp this year to improve what in the past was reminiscent of a Junior B attempt to kill penalties. Dig up the old Ron Wilson Penalty Kill stats if you want a comparison. Up until this point Carlyle seems to have found the message and direction that is working with the Toronto team. Penalty Kill percentage going into Saturday Hockey Night In Canada Match up with Edmonton Oilers - 94.4%
Players this year on the Penalty Kill include Jay McClement, picking up from late last season and his ability to stifle the opposition while short-handed. Tyler Bozak picked up a short-handed goal early this season on the Penalty Kill and has made some great break out plays and almost sprung for another. Having both Bozak and McClement on the PK helps the face off percentage if they are on the ice at the same time during close games. Carlyle takes advantage of this in late Penalty Kill situations during a close game. If one player gets removed from the face off circle by the linesman the other steps in and takes the faceoff.
Toronto Maple Leafs have Two Capable Goalies -
(Update – Jonathon Bernier gets the start against the Edmonton Oilers tonight)
This dream Leafs nation is having is too good to be true. I say this because it is still early and when I was writing the John Ferguson Jr blog last night, I had visions of too many goalies coming and going over the last 15 years in Toronto. Dare I digress and look at the goalies of previous Toronto Maple Leaf rosters, that could be a 10,000 word blog and end up a hateful letter to the previous front office staff.
Let’s look at what we have now and for the first time honestly say there is healthy competition for the starting goaltender position. I was wrong. I wrote this blog early before the season started that James Reimer would be the incumbent that would have to lose his starting seat in the blue paint. Jonathon Bernier has come out of the gate with a shutout last game and a real sense of shutting down opposition with key saves and rebound control when it counts the most.
Jonathon Bernier -
3 Wins and 1 Loss
.974 Save Percentage
Bernier has stopped 113 of the 116 shots face so far this season. This has been by far the best start the team could ask for from a young goaltender new to the spotlight that is Toronto Media.
Toronto Maple Leafs – The Great Start to the Season
With a 4 wins and 1 loss start to the season this ranks up there with great starts for the Leafs. Looking at modern Leafs teams we can see in 1992-93 season when they got to within one victory of advancing to the Stanley Cup final. The Leafs team of that season came out with a 5 Wins and 2 Loss 2 Ties (yes tie games!) to start the run to the conference finals. Western Conference finals that is. Times certainly have changed!
The early story unfolding here for the Toronto Maple Leafs starts with great goaltending and a team that has improved the Penalty Kill. If this team wants to stay competitive and play with grit, they will need to stay strong on the PK. It seems the Toronto Maple Leafs may lead the NHL in fighting majors again this year, they will not get pushed around and of course this will lead to tons of opportunities for Jay McClement and Co. to build on PK success.
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