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Taking Shots

The following table is taken from a great Oilers site www.mc79hockey.com. Ironically, he is based out of Toronto so he is lucky enough to be force-fed tonnes of Maple Leaf content. He is running a season preview of teams focusing on shots for and against and related rates and the Leafs are first which is obviously an unfamiliar position for them.

                 

Tyler's highlighted some of the more salient points such as the swing in shot differential at even strength (SD/60) and the team's declining shooting percentage on the powerplay. The increase in shots for (always a problem under Quinn) was a function of Paul Maurice's instructions to the team to shot from anywhere and everywhere. It kept goalies off-balance and created rebounds and scrambles which resulted in a lot of goals in those situations compared to other versions of the Leafs.

In theory, it's a good strategy since we all know from motivational posters that you miss 100% of the shots that you don't take. In practice, it really hindered the Leafs offence against teams that stacked the middle of the ice and played the trap. The Bruins are the best example of a team that seemed to be tailor-made for frustrating the Leafs' offence. They would collapse their defence around the front of the net thereby taking away the Leafs' shooting lanes. It also made it much easier for the defence to clear the front of the net of any rebounds. It was the hockey equivalent of putting 10 players behind the ball in soccer and the Leafs lacked the creative spark once Wellwood went down with an injury to unlock that kind of defence.

As for the PK stats, I don't think that they could be any more damning of Raycroft's play. While the SA/60 was middle of the pack the S% was decidedly below average. Part of that I would attribute to the fact that Raycroft started 40 of 41 games down the stretch. Mentally and physically it is hard to be at 100% EVERY game for a goalie. However, his biggest weakness was going down too early. How many times did we see a shot go top shelf on Raycroft (usually over his trapper)? I fully expect that a summer working with the goalie coach and Toskala will help Raycroft solve (or minimize) his most glaring weakness.