John Tortorella and the Flavortown Blue Jackets have a thing Athletic writer Alison Lukan dubs “the Power Kill.” It’s a term coined for a penalty kill that plays with an aggressive, offensive style that doesn’t allow power plays to get comfortable and forces them to play defense.

The Blue Jackets are a team that have used this tactic to perfection, most notably against the Tampa Bay Lightning last playoffs. I, for one, am extremely worried it’ll be equally as effective against the Leafs.

Alison and Meghan Hall gave a talk on this topic at the Columbus Blue Jackets Hockey Analytics Conference this past February. From their abstract on Meghan’s website, you can see just how effective it made the Blue Jackets on the penalty kill. It has had an effect across the league, siphoning shots away from the power plays and forcing them to waste time in their own zone defending shots from the penalty killers.

“During the 2018-19 season, the penalty kill for the Columbus Blue Jackets set a modern-era record with nearly 25 percent of the total unblocked shot attempts while their opponent was on the power play. This style of aggressive, offensive play on the penalty kill is not limited to the Blue Jackets (the share of shots on goal, league wide, by the penalty killing team has increased from 14 percent in 2014 to nearly 19 percent last season) and has given rise to a new term – the power kill.” - The Anatomy of a Power Kill, Abstract - Meghan Hall

The Anatomy of a Power Kill | Meghan Hall

The timestamped talk can be found at the link below, along with their slides at the link above. I highly recommend watching and reading their work, it goes into detail on the numbers and how the Blue Jackets were able to accomplish this tactic.

Not only does it waste time, but it has the ability to swing momentum quickly. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen the Leafs demoralized after a power play where they spent the whole time skating after the puck.

The Leafs have also employed the Power Kill in their own game. Kasperi Kapanen and Mitch Marner were noted in Alison and Meghan’s presentation as being great at this tactic, Zach Hyman and Pierre Engvall also have the CF/60 numbers to back it up. Kyle Clifford, too, in his very limited minutes with the team.

So for the Leafs, their power play will have to go up against it. Considering the massive chasm in talent between the Leafs and Blue Jackets power play, the Blue Jackets will get more bang for their buck on the power kill. The Leafs will have to do a few things to combat this tactic; they’ll need to be clean and crisp with their passes, they’ll need to be quick, and they’ll need to be unpredictable.

Unfortunately, Marner’s “Mitch Thing” has gotten stale and adding his slapshot to it hasn’t made it any better. The Leafs will need to find different avenues of attack in order to not make it so easy to game-plan against them. For a minute in practice, Nick Robertson replaced Marner on the power play (presumably while the right winger worked on the penalty kill elsewhere). While it’s exciting to think about, I can’t find myself convinced the Leafs would actually do such a thing, but it would be pretty sweet. Robertson and Auston Matthews each blasting shots while William Nylander and John Tavares clean up the mess in front, ho boy.

Does the Leafs Power Play have a good chance at stopping the Power Kill?

Yeah, they’ll be fine64
No, they’re doomed18
Only if they have Robertson16
We won’t know, the Leafs won’t get a call all series.97
This team is cursed.20

Leafs Branches

“John Tavares won’t be playing because he doesn’t meet with the Canadiens.”
  • The Leafs will be playing an exhibition game against the Montreal Canadiens on July 28th in preparation for the Play-In round. All 24 teams will be playing an opponent once in a friendly before August hits. The Leafs game will be at 8pm on the Tuesday. Teams are expected to arrive on July 26th and exhibition games will be between the 27th and 29th./

Updated with the schedule: Maple Leafs to play Montréal Canadiens in exhibition game

  • We have some times for the Leafs Qualifying Round games. First two are set, more to be determined later. /
  • Here are the highlights from Day 1 of summer camp. Lots of work on special teams./

Maple Leafs focus on special teams on training camp day 2

  • Timothy Liljegren has been deemed “unfit to play” so he’s been replaced by Mac Hollowell on the summer camp squad. We don’t know what “unfit to play” means, but Katya explains what we do know about it in the article./

Mac Hollowell is back — Timothy Liljegren is out

  • Rasmus Sandin was fourth in our Top 25 Under 25 prospect rankings, making him the top prospect outside the Big Three. High praise, very high. He and Robertson are two gems the Leafs should be very happy to have./

Top 25 Under 25: Rasmus Sandin is still the Leafs top prospect at #4

  • Brigstew wrote about right-handed defense prospect William Villeneuve, who’s expected to be drafted right around where the Leafs have a pick this year. Definitely worth a read. /

2020 NHL Draft Profile: William Villeneuve

  • Weird CBA stuff!!/

CBA extension: just the weird stuff

  • Frederik Andersen talked about COVID-19 tests and having to take them every day./
  • Freddy can probably claim there was a Q-tip stuck up his nose when he let in three Morgan Rielly shots in a row. /
  • League min, c’mon Taylor, you know you want to do it. Just listen to Spezza, he knows he made the right decision! Please, I just want Hall-Matthews-Nylander, Robertson-Tavares-Marner. Just once in my lifetime. /
  • There’s a lot of people in the bubbles and a lot of logistics to go through. Along with Dreger’s tweet, Chris Johnston went into what he expects the bubbles to look like in the latest SDP (Steve Dangle Podcast). /
  • I don’t really know why, but it sounds like the Calgary Flames are punishing Johnny Gaudreau??? I really don’t know what’s going on, no one who’s there has been willing to say anything about it. /

Mysterious ‘circumstances’ cause strange split as Flames open camp

And last but not least, Eric Guest opened up about his last days in the OHL and the mental and physical toll it took on him. Please listen to his story and his pain if you can. We all need to work together to dismantle such a toxic environment.