I'm probably the only person on this site who doesn't think that the majority of the Leafs problems lie behind the bench. I have tried to defend Carlyle in the past by suggesting that the Leafs poor possession numbers are a result of a) bad plays (poor decision making) and b) an inability to win battles. I'm not going to suggest that Carlyle's system helps possession, but I don't think it's the primary reason why we're dead last in the league in Corsi.
To help prove that I decided to watch a random game, ideally one where we were massively out-possessed and write down every single time we turned the puck over. In the interests of saving my fingers and my sanity, I decided to only count the times where we had clear possession of the puck (i.e. not in a 50/50 battle). Any play that resulted in us no longer having possession of the puck was then placed into one of three buckets: a) bad plays (player's fault) b) bad system (turning the puck over for no apparent reason) c) just hockey plays (no team can keep the puck 100% of the time and stuff happens in the game).
I have the "raw" data available in an excel file for anyone who wants to see it. I was thinking of doing fancier stuff with it (like types of plays by period etc) but I realized the whole thing was moot, so I will just share my results. One caveat before I do: I tried my best. Every play is open to interpretation and I may have missed one or two, or given credit to the wrong guy, and I know one game is one game and it's a small sample size.
- Bad Plays: 25
- Bad System: 8
- Hockey: 113
Watching the game this way (pausing and rewinding and watching every single giveaway) made certain things really stand out for me though:
- Jonathan Bernier played an awesome game
- Paul Ranger also played a good game
- The Kessel/JvR/Bozak line make a lot of risky plays. A lot of them don't work out, but we only seem to remember the ones that do. Bozak/JVR/Kessel were responsible for over half of the bad plays. JvR had an off night in particular.
- The Leafs absolutely do not win one one one battles in their own end. They are also really slow to the puck in their own end. You could argue this is system based, but I just don't see a coach deliberately allowing the other team to get a puck when it could be your puck or a 50/50 puck.
- It occurred to me that Dion Phaneuf's ice time being relatively high on some nights may have a lot to do with him getting caught out on long shifts. It would be interesting to know if his shift length is much greater than average, but I'm currently too lazy to check.
- Lupul/Kadri/Kulemin actually won some battles and looked like a decent line despite not getting rewarded for their effort.
|15:49||Raymond||1||Misses a short pass from Gardiner|
|15:34||Gleason||1||Assuming this is system, flicks the puck high - may have been trying alley-oop pass|
|14:57||Kessel||1||Had trouble handling a bad pass from Van Riemsdyk|
|14:51||Rielly||1||Weak shot on net|
|14:30||Kadri||1||Tries to skate it up ice, loses a battle|
|14:13||Phaneuf||1||Tries to pass off the boards, gets it too high and is intercepted - does not clear the zone|
|14:00||Gunnarson||1||Had possession, attempted short pass to Raymond, lost the subsequent battle|
|13:45||Phaneuf||1||Had body position and the puck, stick lifted and fell down|
|13:17||Kessel||1||Tries a flip pass to JvR similar to earlier Gleason one, JvR draws a penalty|