by Shiv on 03/05/11 at 08:07 PM ET
The Leafs’ emergence as a legitimate threat for the 8th Seed in the Eastern Conference has taken attention away from an area of great struggle.
Tomas Kaberle’s exit has created a huge void on the man advantage for Toronto. The Leafs have attempted to fill the void with Tim Brent because of his experience on the Powerplay with the Marlies. Ron Wilson has used Brett Lebda’s sudden resurgence on the unit as well. And Dion Phaneuf has played the best hockey of his Maple Leaf career since Kaberle’s exit.
But the Leafs do not have anyone that can run the Powerplay as well as Number 15.
Since Kaberle was traded on February 18th to the Boston Bruins, the Leafs have gone 5 for 38 with the man advantage - a conversion rate of 13.16%. Before Kaberle was traded, that conversion rate was 16.67%. That is a difference between ranking 29th and 20th in the NHL on the Powerplay.
Of the 5 opportunities that they have actually converted since the Kaberle trade have come in two games. In the 5 remaining games, they have gone 0 for 25 yet still gone 3-0-2. No team in today’s NHL can keep that up.
Of course, when the team is winning, no one notices.
Reimer and the Leafs’ overall improved play have cloaked their shortcomings every time the opposing team takes a penalty.
But unless the Leafs start converting those Powerplay opportunities, the playoffs are a pipe dream.
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