Maple Leafs: A Comprehensive Guide to an Insufferable Summer.

Jack Campbell, Toronto Maple Leafs (Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports)
Jack Campbell, Toronto Maple Leafs (Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports) /
7 of 8
Frederik Andersen, Toronto Maple Leafs
Frederik Andersen, Toronto Maple Leafs (Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Powerplay

I wrote this section 3 times.  I edited it, and erased it, every time.  Each edition was a rant.  A rant full of flaming capital letters and exclamation points.  This is the 4th edition, and I hope it’s toned down enough to be legible.

If the PP got it’s act together in the playoffs we would forget about the 33 games of futility that we saw in the regular season…but it didn’t.

The Leafs went 3-23 in the series against the Habs.  That’s a 13% success rate.  Montreal went 3-19 in the series, a 16% success rate.  Seems about even right?  Seems a little bit ineffective but acceptable right?


When the Leafs were up 3 games to 1 against the bad guys, they held a huge special teams advantage.  The Leafs were 3-16 on the PP and the Habs were 0-13.  There was one tiny little caveat…the Habs won game 1 with a short handed goal.  But hey, we’re up 3-1 in the series.  No biggie.

Then came games 5, 6, and 7.  In those games, the Habs went 3-6 on the PP and the Leafs went 0-7.  So when it mattered the most, the Maple Leafs PP reverted back to the cosmic black whole of offense during each of the deciding games in the series.  One goal could have seen this team playing Winnipeg right now.

The Solution

Take Marner off the first unit.  The first unit should be as follows:

Matthews and Nylander on the half wall, Tavares in the bumper, Spezza in the net front/behind net spot, and Sandin at the point.

Nylander, Tavares, and Spezza should be moving around in rotation.  All three can move in and out of the net front/behind net/bumper spots, circling and switching, then bringing Nylander back out again as a shooter from the half wall.  All three of these players can shoot and pass.  Matthews and Sandin can walk the line and go high-low.  Movement and versatility is key here.  They must break down the PK structure to free up a shooter, especially Matthews.

Passes to the slot don’t exist unless you create them by forcing the PK to breakdown and open up.  Movement is one way to do that.  Shots that create scrambles are another way.

Sandin needs to shoot from the point.  The most important aspect of the point on the PP is that they will take the shot when it’s there.  It must be taken, otherwise the PK will just fixate on your primary threats.  The point shot does not need to score, but it must be taken consistently for tips and rebounds.

For those of you wondering, Sandin over Marner here because you MUST have a defender on the PP just in case the PK is in a position to attack.  Having all forwards on the ice would be a circus.  It’s already been a circus so we don’t need to revisit that idea.

The second unit should be Marner/Rielly/Muzzin/Kerfoot/??

This is a group that needs a PP add over the summer.  Maybe that player is Robertson.  I like that group if it ends up being that.  Marner and Rielly are your carriers and facilitators, Kerfoot is your speed entry or your decoy.  Between those 3, there should be good entries and puck movement in the zone.

Roberston is your shot threat from the half wall and Muzzin in your shot from the point.  They still need a net front/bumper player, possibly to replace Kerfoot, in order to make a balanced PP unit.  This player will have to come from free agency or via trade, resigning Hyman would be a perfect fit here as an example, with Marner and Rielly controlling the entries.

The second unit is a complete roll of the dice at this point because we have no idea what the roster is going to look like.  I imagine there will be players here that Dubas will acquire this summer.

The first unit needs to dominate, and the hardest decision of Keefe’s coaching career will be to take Marner off that unit so that it CAN dominate.