Failing Large

Shortly after Buffalo scored its third power play goal on Friday night - on its third power play opportunity, no less - I said to myself, "This is the worst penalty-killing team I've ever seen."

Now, that might just be hyperbole.  While the Leafs appear to be the worst penalty-killing team I've ever seen, perception is often blurry.  Fortunately, given the power of the internet, I can now look it up.

To be the worst penalty-killing team I've ever seen, I need the PK stats of all the teams I've ever watched.  I've moved around a bit, so there are a few.  To be the worst, this team needs to outdo:

And just for yuks, even though I didn't really watch them, we'll add

  • the 1975-77 Calgary Cowboys (WHA)

Lets consult the good people at and see what they have to say, shall we?

Given the 0-for-3 last night, the Leafs of '09-10 sit at a lofty 68.35 percent.  How does this fare?

Toronto Maple Leafs

2009-10    68.35
2008-09    74.68
2007-08    78.13
2006-07    78.47
2005-06    80.04
2003-04    83.42
2002-03    86.85
2001-02    84.45
2000-01    84.97
1999-00    82.92
1998-99    80.31
1997-98    86.56
1996-97    82.01
1995-96    82.63
1994-95    84.86
1993-94    81.91
1992-93    82.44
1991-92    80.94
1990-91    77.45
1989-90    78.19
1988-89    72.70
1987-88    77.86
1986-87    78.02
1985-86    77.20
1984-85    74.38
1983-84    73.56

OK - this is the worst Leaf performance since 1983.  Not an auspicious beginning.

Buffalo Sabres - they had Hasek.   I don't expect much.

1999-00    85.04
1998-99    86.22

Ottawa Senators - the Sens were horrific.  One of them must be worse, right?

1995-96    77.87
1994-95    80.40
1993-94    73.30
1992-93    75.00

Calgary Flames?

1982-83    77.13
1981-82    78.05
1980-81    80.77

Calgary Cowboys?  McFly?

1976-77    79.39
1975-76    76.43

OK - so it turns out I was right.  This is the worst penalty-killing team I have ever seen.  What about overall, though?  Could these Leafs actually be the worst penalty-killing team in history?  Seriously, there have been some pretty bad teams out there.

Let's look at some potential candidates:

1974-75 Washington Capitals - 71.34 - uh oh

1972-73 NY Islanders - 75.86 - this isn't good

1967-68 Oakland Seals - 82.63 - oh, man

Now, hockey-reference only has PK stats back to 1963-64.  I don't know whether they were tracked prior to that, or whether h-r simply doesn't have them.  In any event, is it really possible that no team in almost 50 years has been as bad at killing penalties as this year's Leafs?

No, it's not.

Thankfully (I think), there are two.

The 1982-83 LA Kings killed penalties at a 68.24 percent clip.  That's pretty weak.  Not the worst ever, though.  That "honour" goes to - wait for it -

The 1979-80 Kings. 

They are the current standard-bearers for badness, givng up 94 goals in 291 chances for a PK percentage of 67.70.  That's a whole 0.65 percent worse than the Leafs are right now.

For what it's worth, the 1979-80 Kings made the playoffs.

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