Penalty Kill faceoffs matter, but not enough to stress over

Jeff Veillette
December 20 2016 11:48AM

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Photo Credit: Dan Hamilton/USA TODAY SPORTS

Young Frederik Gauthier steps into the defensive zone faceoff circle against Ryan Kesler. Zach Hyman just responded to an admittedly rough situation by punching a guy, which the referees didn't like, putting the Leafs on a crucial penalty kill. Give up a goal, and the team is in huge trouble.

Kesler assembles his group the way he wants them. He knows that the four players Toronto have placed on the ice; Gauthier, Connor Brown, Roman Polak, and Matt Hunwick, aren't mobile enough to conclusively win a race if the play doesn't work out. He also knows that Gauthier doesn't have a ton of experience against him at the dot and that his handedness is just right for this set play.

The puck drops and Kesler wins the faceoff clean. Nobody knows what's going on. Cam Fowler skates into a now-open one-timer and blasts the puck past Frederik Andersen. 3-2 Ducks.

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How often are the Leafs up or down, and who is on the ice?

Jeff Veillette
December 15 2016 12:29PM

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Photo Credit: Eric Hartline/USA TODAY SPORTS

The Leafs are 10-1-5 this year when leading after two periods, and as a result of those six games that got away, Toronto's inability to close out has become a hot-button discussion in town of late. I don't have any significant answers on how to fix this, but just out of curiosity, I decided to look up how much time every NHL team spends with the lead, trailing behind, and tied in the league this year.

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There is no Hunlak conspiracy, there is just Hunlak

Jeff Veillette
December 14 2016 11:27AM

A month ago, Leafs fans were introduced to a defensive pairing that, well, sounded like a worst-case scenario. Matt Hunwick on the left side. Roman Polak on the right. All of Toronto's veteran presence on the point concentrated into a single deployment. What we knew heading into it wasn't encouraging. 

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Sometimes a rookie scores, sometimes they don't

Jeff Veillette
December 09 2016 09:56AM

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Photo Credit: Bruce Fedyck/USA TODAY SPORTS

I think we can all agree that today's National Hockey League is one essentially run by its young talent. The game is getting faster and more systems reliant, meaning that those with the quickest skilled reflexes to break through holes are the ones that are reaping the rewards.

But in a season of youth, only one name matters.

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Kasperi Kapanen is ripping apart the AHL, so keep him there

Jeff Veillette
December 05 2016 03:12PM

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Photo Credit: Christian Bonin/TSGPhoto.com

When we did our prospect rankings in August, I was significantly less bearish about Kasperi Kapanen than the rest of the staff. More specifically, I had him in my Top Five when I made my first draft of the team, sat down, realized that the draft was largely intuition, and started looking at every prospect's career trajectory.

It clicked to me at that point that as much as I loved watching Kapanen fly down the ice, and as much as I had heard the world be spoken of him before he came to the Leafs... he hadn't done a heck of a bunch.

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