Leafs Simply Have To Fix The Penalty Kill

I know this isn't news to anyone, but the Leafs powerplay is still rock bottom and letting in goals at the worst possible times(ever?). While the Leafs are way down on the number of penalties they take compared to last year, their ability to kill them has gotten substantially worse. I literally cringe every time they take a penalty, I have that little faith in their abilities. When looking at the stats to write this, I was amazed to see that the PK is equally atrocious at home and on the road. I was at least hoping that their penchant to lose at home may have been precipitated by an extra bad PK there. Nope. Their PK is actually fractionally better at home at 70.8%, compared to 70.4% on the road. That just leads me to believe two things: the PK coaching is really bad and we don't have the players to play the roles. Ranked 13th being short-handed 119 times, the Leafs have let in 35 goals. That's practically 1 in 3 PK's lets in a goal.

I don't think people should be running around screaming about making the playoffs when we can't kill a penalty. Playing in fear of taking a penalty and loathing going on the ice to kill it, will not get the Leafs above 8th. What do they expect in the playoffs? That they can score 5 goals a game for 16 wins? Living in Victoria, I don't get much insight as to how the Leafs actually train for their jobs, but with the schedule this month there will be a whole lot of optional morning skates without much coaching or direction.

I think it's easy to get caught up in a streak or a decent short term record. Although at times it may make watching the season unfold a little more painful, I like to take the games one at a time. What worked? What didn't? Then, how is that looking over time? Short term; what a great kill of a double minor in the first period last night! Over time; the PK is looking worse every game. The Leafs are guaranteed to let in one short-handed goal per game. That doesn't really add to the entertainment value we've been promised as fans, either.

So, just in case you get too excited about jumping past some teams and sliding into the playoffs in the final week of the season, keep watching the penalty kill and hope that Ron Wilson can do something before it's too late.

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