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One of the most puzzling things about the Maple Leafs last season was their Jekyll & Hyde powerplay. Fans scratched their heads at how the Leafs could go from having the second-best powerplay in the first half of the season to having the second-worst in the last half, especially with the offensive talent they were throwing over the boards every man advantage.
What went wrong
That it took less than two months for opponents to figure out the Leafs’ powerplay was concerning. That no significant adaptations or changes were made to the team’s special teams strategy was utterly bewildering. Opponents quickly keyed in on the fact that the Leafs powerplay ran through the top of their umbrella formation, which consisted of Mitch Marner, Morgan Rielly, and Auston Matthews. The opposition overcompensated towards Matthews to take away his shot, daring Marner or Rielly to take non-dangerous shots from far out. It worked, as Marner and Rielly combined for just one powerplay goal all season, courtesy of Rielly.
The Leafs passed and passed and passed and passed the puck around the top of the zone trying to open Matthews up for a shot that was seldom uncontested, often …
Author: Mark Norman / The Leafs Nation