The Toronto Maple Leafs are in eighth place in the NHL standings, less than one week after the same jokesters who are still reeling from the team’s refusal to trade superstar William Nylander, thought they were going to get a new GM.
More like the GM is going to get a new contract, but I digress.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have now won back-to-back games against two of the NHL’s best teams, despite the schedule-maker’s ridiculous insistence that they not only travel internationally, but start early to boot, in order to do so.
Don’t look now, but the Leafs have won three in a row and have points in six of their last eight games.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Carolina
One reason for optimism when the Leafs were getting bad results earlier in the season was that of their six losses, four of them were one-goal games. Statistically, one-goal games are essentially ties that could go either way. The Leafs, with so much firepower, are highly probable to win more close games than they lose.
The Leafs, due to their scoring, should win quite a few games they don’t deserve to. To win a division or the President’s Trophy, an NHL team has to at least flirt with a .700 (70%) points-percentage.
But few, if any, team’s will deserve to win 70% of their games in a salary cap league that is chalk full of parity. Good teams, however, win games where they aren’t the best team. Sometimes it’s just luck, but sometimes it’s just star-power. For example, even if Auston Matthews has an off night, he’s still capable of wining a close game with one good shift.
So sure, last night’s game was garbage. The Hurricanes bloggers should be writing today about how their team was incredibly unlucky to not leave with a win. They would be right. The best you can say about the Leafs last night was that it was a gutsy effort, and that Kallgren finally had a good game.
For the Leafs to get 13 games into the season before winning the first game they didn’t deserve to is pretty weird. The fact that they are in 8th place despite this, is pretty crazy. (stats naturalstattrick.com).
Since that is an obvious anomaly that will regress positively over time, all things being equal, the Leafs should have a better record going forward (which is in line with pre-season expectations).
Currently Auston Matthews has lost his 5v5 minutes by a score of 8-6, despite an expected-goals percentage of 59%. Matthews’ good play (as shown by his very strong underlying numbers) will eventually even out the results, and when the Leafs are winning Matthew’s minutes, they’ll win more games.
Matthews has 2 5v5 goals in 13 games. He is shooting 4% instead of his normal 16%. As time goes on, it’s a virtual guarantee that he will score more. The Leafs record today, with Matthews getting such poor results, should terrify other teams.
The Leafs are ranked 17th in PDO, signifying somewhat unlucky results. (Samsonov’s great play is somewhat floating Matthews’ bad results).
A rematch against Vegas is up next. The bottom line is this: A team that is in 8th place that hasn’t won more than a single game they didn’t deserve to is in great shape.
Can we get the Dubas a contract extension now? Thanks.