The First 48: Maple Leafs Review At The All-Star Break


The Toronto Maple Leafs have had an up and down season filled with extreme’s on both ends of the spectrum.

The result, so far, has been they are out of the playoffs and the fanbase has turned on them.

Let’s break down the season so far into four sections of 12 games and check out how they’ve done and analyze their performance.

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Score-Adjusted Fenwick

Over the past five seasons if you’ve found yourself in the top-16 for score-adjusted fenwick there is a 81.3% chance you’ll make the playoffs. The Maple Leafs have never even come close to sniffing the top-16 in this category all season which, going by the past five seasons, brought their chances of getting to the dance significantly lower.

It’s not perfect, but its five years worth of numbers to create a trend. In the five years previous to this season the worst SAF in the top-16 was 49.3. This doesn’t mean you won’t make the playoffs, it just means you are making life extremely difficult for yourself and banking on a high PDO to get you there.

To put it in simple terms, the Leafs are awful at possession and eventually – in the last twelve games – it caught up to them and they plummeted at an alarming rate in the Eastern Conference.

The Leafs should have been dealt a worse fate in December, but you’ll see where the PDO picked them up a little later.


The primarily luck driven statistic is the sum of shooting percentage and save percentage. The Leafs have used a high shooting percentage to mask their horrid possession play for the last few seasons – this year is no different.

Their numbers were 101.1 – 103.3 for the first 36 games, but when the shooting percentage fell off the face of the earth they began their quick slide to the basement of the league. There’s no coincidence.

Points Per 12 Games

The Leafs had their worst possession play happen during the third quarter of the first 48 games. They had a 42.2 score-adjusted fenwick, but they countered that with a ridiculous 103.3 PDO total. What they did was get great goaltending and shoot the lights out for the twelve game stretch – which left the better team in the loss column more often than not.

Toronto collected it’s two highest point totals per twelve games when their PDO was at its highest (6 Nov – 2 Dec & 4 Dec – 28 Dec)

Without better possession, the Leafs rely heavily on shooting at unsustainable rates to win hockey games. The collapse that many predicted has arrived and instead of thinking about who they can bring in at the deadline to help a playoff push, the Leafs are contemplating a full rebuild.

The Leafs possession has been awful all season, but they’ve managed to get more points than they deserved on the back of Jonathan Bernier and some red-hot sticks. Now that both of those – although having them both collapse at the same time is rare – are struggling the problem of possession has taken over and pushed them out of the playoffs.

Toronto has been playing slightly better under Peter Horachek (47.1 SAF compared to 44.5 under Carlyle) and if the shooters can find the back of the net at a more average rate, and the goaltenders warm up, they will begin to win more games than one out of every nine, but they have a long road ahead of them to be a playoff team. A road that they probably won’t find until next year unless they begin shooting at astronomical rates again.