At present the worst offenders are Edmonton, followed by the Leafs. In other words, expectedly, the youngest teams have trouble with blatant giveaways, as most long-suffering Leafs fans know only too well.
Montreal ranks 18th, with 253 giveaways in 32 games, or almost 8 giveaways per game. By contrast, the Columbus Blue Jackets give the puck away a little over 4 times per game.
They tend to occur in a variety of different situations, some more dangerous than others: breakout passes that don’t travel as quickly or as accurately as expected, botched zone clearing attempts, puck centering in the offensive zone when the intended target has moved (miscommunication), and inefficient puck control in the neutral zone.
According to ESPN commentator (and ex-Hab) Brian Engblom, carrying the puck out of the zone is where young defensemen can make crucial errors: “If the defenseman has been able to get the puck under control and gather speed coming out of his zone, he must be very careful to make the right play in the neutral zone. If it’s congested, often the right play is not to pass it at all, but instead, get to the red line and dump the puck into the opposition’s zone. If he makes a bad pass in the neutral zone and it is intercepted, he is caught travelling in the wrong direction and is susceptible to a breakaway, or out-numbered attack on his partner (who’s backing him up).”
This is where keeping it simple (I’m talking to you, PK) can produce better results than trying for the showy, creative play.
Here are some classic hair-pulling moments from the bizarre career of Bryan Mc Cabe: