For the first two months of the season, the most dangerous offensive force in the NHL was Toronto Maple Leaf's main power-play unit. By surpassing a very ineffective second group, the Maple Leafs ranked third in the NHL in 29% power-play conversion, beaten only by the Colorado Avalanche and the Winnipeg Jets.
However, since December 4, Leafs' power play has been decidedly cold, and even though there have been a couple of games in that section in which he managed to break through, overall the team managed only the 25th best power-play conversion rate of 11.4%.
This is a series of 16 games for Toronto, but only 76 minutes and six seconds of energy play time, so we're dealing with small champions here. Despite this, 1
While the Leafs top unit, which included all the first three centers of the team, was scorching, the risk of being forced to use a tired pin shortly after the power play ended due to the fact that the head unit that played almost every two minutes seemed worth it. Now, with the power game no longer marked, the break was to be expected.
The question I have is, have opponents who have now had time to plan the game for all the talent that stopped the power game in Toronto, or did the Leafs just hit a mess of bad luck on the way?
Dividing the offensive numbers of maple leaves on December 4, we can see that Toronto is getting less chance of scoring of all kinds, and that it affects its passages to the slot less often, focusing more on the steps East West. As a rule, I am a fan of the East-West puck movement, and the kind of steps that Mitch Marner makes expressly in the power play through the ice center creates great scoring possibilities that force goalkeepers to move and make transitional saves .
A problem with east-west passages, however, is the number of those on the power game that tends to be between the two points, which is an artifact of old-fashioned power games that relied on a single timer from the point – something that has not happened so well these days.
As of December 4th, 80.5 of the 129.4 East-West passes of Leafs by 60 are among the points, which means that the power game has been forced much more often, rather than being able to take advantage of the teams down.
Now, before Leafs fans start to panic about closing the club game and that all that talent gets wasted, let's put these numbers in a little bit of context here:  • Rank of Leafs in high risk occasions on the power play from December 4: first
• Network shots from the slot: according to
• Attempts to shoot from the slot (possibility to score): first
• Switch to the slot : first
• East-West passes under the top of the circles: 11.
Does it look like a power play destined to fail for the rest of the season?
It is true that the advantage of the Leafs in these categories compared to the first two months of the season is much lower. Until December 4, their 32 chance of high danger for 60 minutes was almost 12 more than the next best team of 20.6 in Colorado, and their 52.7 goals in the network for 60 have overshadowed the team of Winnipeg's most dangerous shot, which was putting up to 38.1 chances to score on the net during the same period.
So the Leaf's power play is still as elitist as the earth? No, but it is still probably the advantage of the most dangerous man in the league, there is only a slump in terms of finishing in progress.
Even though the underlying numbers remain strong, I do not think that Mike Babcock is necessarily wrong to break the upper unit. The fact is that the Leafs have enough high quality offensive players to run two strong units and keep their players more ready for the transition, even if the ego can be managed.
Keeping in mind how the Maple Leafs manage their Power Play, we can also look at the numbers of strength for people to see who should place where, starting with the higher unit.
Obviously, the first unit the Leaf should play on every power play should be built around Mitch Marner. For the third consecutive season, Marner is among the championship leaders in scoring opportunities created in the minute in power play, and his chemistry with Tavares is undeniable. There is no reason to change the roles of those players who have played up to this point, so Marner is the quarterback in the right half of the wall, and Tavares is the man in the front row.
Morgan Rielly has continually shown her ability to support power play from the center point, so she should also attack that higher unit.
Normally I would say that Nazem Kadri should keep his post as the bumper in the middle of the ice, but we are trying to widen talent a bit, and I like the idea of Marner having an option from a timer in the high slot, so the insertion into the right hand of Kasperi Kapanen makes sense, especially because it is establishing itself as top scorer this season.
On the left half-wall, the options begin to thin out a little, but Patrick Marleau may be a good alternative to cash out the opportunities for rebound.
The second unit is clearly built around Auston Matthews, which is very different from Mitch Marner, but I think it could be as dynamic at the same point. The feat of Matthews and his incredible release on the shots make it a threat from that point that reminds me of Alex Kovalev, forcing the teams to reverse and give space.
Kadri fills his seat as a bumper on this unit, and without Matthews on his left, he will get more shooting opportunities, while William Nylander's excavation on the left half of the side wall gives Kadri the opportunity to receive the steps once by a high-end playmaker.
Jake Gardiner fills the supporting role from the point center, which leaves only one point to fill – the front of the net. For this, I would look to the third player of the Leafs on high risk occasions at 5 vs 5 this season, Andreas Johnson.
It is unlikely that one or the other of the two units is as strong as the top unit was for the Leafs at the start of the season, but both have the potential to be among the best in the league, and each player is inserted into a point that exploits their strengths.