Finally! The second installment of the results comparison looking at games 11-20. The explanation of this comparison is in the right sidebar as are previous entries. Admittedly it's not splitting the atom but it will hopefully help generate some discussion. The Equivalent Fixtures and Upcoming Games can be found here.
Last year's team was clicking on all cylinders. The powerplay was lethal and the penalty kill was unbelievable. Then injuries struck. Sure, Damien Cox would have you believe that injuries do not faze any team but then again he'll probably
flip-flop soon enough.
The Leafs' record, despite holding their own at even strength, belies the importance of special teams. The Leafs' top powerplay unit is back together and has shown glimpses that it will soon be surgically cutting opponents apart. Now all the team has to do is put together a second unit that will contribute something other than warm bodies on the ice. Oh, and maybe the PP can stop leaking shorthanded goals. But look at that discipline! Only 38 times shorthanded.
A good case study for the important of special teams, which only comprises about 30-40% of the game (I can't remember the exact stat), is the team from La Belle Province (of course it's feminine). The Habs are, much like last year, barely surviving at even strength (GF - 28, 29th ranked/GA - 34, 15th ranked) but their ridiculous powerplay is ranked 1st at almost 30% efficiency and their penalty kill, while not a top 5 unit like last year, is ranked 13th and going along at a decent 83% clip. Last year the team got off to a hot start and every bleu, blanc, et rouge dipped fan plugged their ears and starting humming whenever it was mentioned that maybe their special teams might cool off and that would spell disaster. Well, four months after talking about winning the Northeast the Habs were wondering how they ended up a point behind the Auld Enemy. Oh, and inventing gastroenteritis epidemics that crippled the team.