Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 11/23/11 at 11:21 AM ET
from Damien Cox of The Spin,
Other than the breakthrough seasons both Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul appear to be having, this would be the first convincing piece of evidence that the Maple Leafs’ strong start may not be a mirage.
Like a superb goalie, a superb power play can cover up a lot of weaknesses on just about any hockey club. And right now, at least, the Leafs have that power play, third best in the NHL according to this morning’s stat sheet.
At 22.6 per cent, buoyed by a 10-for-24 run over the past seven games, the Leafs trail only Vancouver and Colorado in terms of efficiency with the man advantage. Ron Wilson’s crew, with assistant Scott Gordon apparently organizing the power play unit, has scored 10 power play goals at home and nine on the road, a nice even split.
That’s obviously helped to keep the Leaf offence rolling at fifth best in the league, averaging 3.09 goals per game.
But a power play means more than just a number. It can be a dagger in the heart of the opponent, or it can change a game, or it can force an opponent to defend less aggressively for fear of taking penalties.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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