The Leafs' PK: Does it suck this much?


I won't keep you in suspense. Yes, it does. Toronto actually spends a below-average amount of time at 4-on-5, but that's primarily because they give up so many goals that their penalty-kills end early. Their 4-on-5 save percentage tells the story:

07-08 08-09 09-10
SPCT 849 833 708
RANK 28 30 29

(You can see league-wide data here for 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2009-10.)

It would be nice to blame that all on Vesa Toskala, but he's fundamentally a league-average goaltender, as hard as that may be to accept. No, the problem is with the Leafs PK. Let's take a look at the last two seasons:

07-08 08-09 NHL Avg
Shot Distance 33.7 ft 31.2 ft 34.5 ft
Rank 24 30
Shot Volume 67.3 76.9 67.4
Rank 21 26

So the Leafs weren't great in 2007-08 and they were basically the worst in the league in 2008-09. (In case you were wondering, they've given up 103 shots/60 this season, at an average distance of 28.3 ft. But it's early yet.) It doesn't matter who you have in goal - their stats aren't going to look good when you're this bad defensively. If Toskala had played behind a league-average defense, you'd think he was a league-average goalie, because that's basically what he is. There's no goalie in the entire league - perhaps in history - who the Leafs could have ridden to the 8th playoff spot in the East last year.

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