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Leafs need to be more special

Sunday, 10.03.2010 / 3:00 AM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

By John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

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Leafs need to be more special
Toronto's power play and penalty kill units achieved the dubious distinction of each ranking 30th in the League
Toronto's power play and penalty kill units achieved the dubious distinction of each ranking 30th in the League

Advantage Margin: +27
The Leafs' struggles didn't come because of a lack of discipline or an inability to draw penalties. They had 30 more power-play opportunities than their opponents at home and allowed only three more than they received on the road.

Special Teams Goal Margin: -32
Toronto's special teams have to be better this season, because they can't be much worse. The Leafs won the dubious honor of finishing last on both the power play (14.0 percent) and the penalty kill (74.6 percent). Their special-teams deficit easily was the highest in the League.

Goals by defensemen: 34
The Leafs hope Dion Phaneuf regains the scoring touch he showed in Calgary. Phaneuf, the Leafs' new captain, had 10 goals with the Flames before being traded to Toronto, but connected just twice in 26 games after the deal. Tomas Kaberle is more of a passer (42 assists) than a shooter (7 goals).

Overtime Record
Total: 9-10-4
OT: 5-10 SO: 4-4
Toronto lost its first nine overtime games before winning five of their last six. They were 3-6 in OT at Air Canada Centre, but won all three home games in which they were able to get the game into a shootout.

Times Scored First: 30 Record: 18-6-6
No team opened the scoring fewer times than the Leafs, and few did as little with early leads when they got them. Toronto was 12-2-1 (.800) when scoring first at home, but went just 6-4-5 (.400) when getting the first goal away from home.

Best 2009-10 Number: 9-5-2
Toronto's record in March, the only month of the season in which the Leafs won more games than they lost. Seven of the wins came in OT or shootouts. In all, they were 11-7-3 after the Olympic break.

Worst 2009-10 Number: 39
Margin by which the Leafs were outscored in the first 40 minutes of games. The Leafs scored only 56 goals (next-to-last) while allowing 76 in the first period, then surrendered a League-high 97 in the second period while scoring 78.
    
Scheduling
The Leafs begin and end their season against the Canadiens at Air Canada Centre. Their fans will neither get bored with them nor miss them: Toronto has only one road trip as long as four games, and no homestand longer than three.
Quote of the Day

We want to make sure that whoever makes our team really makes our team by earning it and not putting them in situations where they get preference because of their status as a first-round pick or whatever it might be. That's not going to happen. Everybody has to earn their way on our team.

— Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen on the team's prospects at development camp