NHL referee Garrett Rank
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The Leafs' power play time in the Matthews era shows a huge problem in the NHL's head office

Published February 28, 2024 at 11:29

For eight seasons running now, the Toronto Maple Leafs have been a team who has received precisely zero luck and almost no benefit of the doubt when it comes to in-game officiating and receiving calls that go in their favour.

For some who are quick to blame Sheldon Keefe for this, it is important to note that even dating back to the Mike Babcock era in Toronto, the calls still weren't going the Leafs' way. The officiating has been consistently tilted in favour of the opposition, regardless of whether the games are being played in Toronto or on the road. That's a problem.

In the Auston Matthews Era, which kicked off back in 2016-17, the Leafs have never once ranked above 21st in the league in power play time, despite the fact that they've been a heavy possession team and have the puck more often than not each and every game, which means that the opposition is always chasing them. When did the team ranked 21st? In Matthews' very first season. Since then, right up until last season, the team has ranked 31st, 29th, 26th, 25th, 29th and 25th.

So how do you think the Leafs have faired in this category this season? It's not quite last, but it's close. This season, the Leafs are 29th in the league by power play time.

Of course, there are some factors here that need to be considered, such as the Leafs scoring on the power play, which reduces the amount of minutes they've racked up, but even accounting for their power play success rate, something still doesn't quite add up.

The unfortunate part about this is that there's really nothing the Leafs can do about it, short of collecting votes from the various owners in favour of making a change in the NHL commissioner's chair, which is highly unlikely given the favouritism that Gary Bettman shows to other NHL franchises, particularly in the United States. As of right now, any issue the Leafs may have with the current situation would have to go through Bettman, and obviously he's not going to admit to anything, nor will he hold his league officials accountable. The whole thing is infuriating, not only because it's happening and there's nothing the Leafs can do, but also because it's so blatantly obvious.
February 28   |   849 answers
The Leafs' power play time in the Matthews era shows a huge problem in the NHL's head office

Do you think NHL officials actively try to avoid calling penalties that benefit the Leafs?

Yes, it's pretty obvious56967 %
No, it's pure coincidence758.8 %
I think it only happens with certain refs20524.1 %
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