KK Members Blog
by Shiv on 10/23/10 at 06:08 PM ET
This isn’t the first time someone has told Tomas Kaberle to shoot more. He may be a world-class offensive d-man. He may be able to move the puck up the ice and quarterback a powerplay better than almost anyone on the planet. But his shortcoming as an offensive d-man is his reluctance to shoot the puck.
Kaberle ranks 52nd in the league in Shots on Goal among defensemen with 10 on the season. Let’s do the math here. 30 Teams. 2 Defensemen on each team’s top PP unit on the points. That’s 60. Take away 2-3 d-men away from that number for guys like Ovechkin and Kovalchuk manning the points as forwards. Kaberle ranks 52 out of approximately 57 guys on the points of top PP units. By the way, his partner on the point, our Captain, ranks 1st among all d-men with 24 SOG.
Now there will be some among you who say, “well, Kaberle’s job is to set up Dion’s shot on the right or Kessel’s shot on the left.” Well, there is no light way to put this so here it is: You are idiots. This conversation is for people who actually understand hockey.
As of today, our Powerplay ranks 16th in the league at 14.3%. The Rangers drew 10 minutes in minors on Thursday, yet we failed to convert on one. And Kaberle is largely to blame.
The Powerplay is all about creating open seams. Phaneuf’s 24 SOG are a testament to Kaberle’s ability to make that perfect pass that gives Phaneuf that perfect shot. But what the stats won’t tell you is that Phaneuf has ripped FAR MORE than 24 shots from the point on the PP. Many times this season, Kaberle has feathered over that perfect pass over to Phaneuf but Phaneuf’s shot has either been blocked or been off target or ping ponged into the boards. Why? Because Phaneuf’s shot does not have an open seam to find its way to the net. There is a reason Phaneuf still has no goals on the season yet.
Here is a fun fact: Phaneuf and Kessel have the same amount of Shots on Goal on the season (24). Yet Kessel has 2 Powerplay Goals. Phaneuf has 0. Aside from the fact that Forwards obviously have more opportunities to score goals is the fact that Kessel is a benefactor of Phaneufs blatant disregard for the Perfect-Time-to-Shoot syndrome that plagues Kaberle. Both of Kessel’s Powerplay goals have resulted on plays where a Kaberle pass to Phaneuf opens up the shooting lane or creates a rebound for Kessel. Penalty killing units going up against the Leafs have made a habit out of cheating by leaning towards the sideboards on one side and towards the opposing point man when up against Kaberle because even when Kaberle has the lane, he is reluctant to shoot. He almost always opts for the extra move or the extra pass.
Now imagine this: Kaberle just lets it rip every time he touches the puck. What would happen? The Leafs would have more Shots on Goal every time they had a Powerplay. Kessel and Phaneuf’s shooting lanes would start to open up, which Kaberle could exploit with his perfect touch passing. And space would open up down low as PK units scramble to cover two shooting point men along with one sniper on the boards.
People talk about Kessel’s ability to snipe or Dion’s blistering shot but the games the Leafs’ Powerplay is MOST effective are the days when Tomas Kaberle is the deadliest player on that unit.
If only he understood what kind of power is within his grasp.
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