Why the Toronto Maple Leafs Will Rebound and Easily Make Playoffs

TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 30: William Nylander #88 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates after scoring against the Buffalo Sabres during the second period at the Scotiabank Arena on November 30, 2019 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 30: William Nylander #88 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates after scoring against the Buffalo Sabres during the second period at the Scotiabank Arena on November 30, 2019 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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The Toronto Maple Leafs have done quite well under their new coach.

Since Sheldon Keefe was hired, the Toronto Maple Leafs have had an up and down record – they’re 6-4 –  but if not for some hot goalies they might have won every game so far.

You can’t win them all, and that’s a fact.  The Leafs aren’t perfect, but they’re a heck of a lot more fun to watch since the coaching change and the team is trending in the right direction.

Since November 21st when Keefe took over, the Toronto Maple Leafs are 51% or better in shot-attempts, shots, scoring chances, goals-for, expected goals-for, and high-danger scoring chances.

Those are excellent numbers and project a winning team for the future.

Toronto Maple Leafs Gonna Get Better

The Leafs 6-4 record under Keefe would probably be better except they’re 16th in shooting percentage and 19th in save percentage since Keefe took over.

All stats for this article 5v5 unless otherwise indicated and from naturalstattrick.com.

Given the presence of Freddie Andersen, Auston Matthews and John Tavares on this roster, I highly doubt those numbers will be that pedestrian a few months from now.

Another factor hurting Keefe’s record: the Leafs have the 31st amount of Power-play minutes since he took over.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have just five power play goals over this period.  The league leader has 13th.  The worst team has one.  I think it’s reasonable to assume this will improve as time goes on.

The Leafs are actually 5th in goals per minute on the PP since Keefe took over they were 19th under Babcock), they’ve just got to get more chances.

I think it’s more than reasonable to think the Toronto Maple Leafs will get better as time goes on, but just in case you need some more evidence, check this out:

Of the 160 odd players who have played 450+ minutes this season, Matthews and Nylander are near the top of the NHL in all their differential percentages – shot-attempts, shots, scoring chances, and expected goals.

But they are 75th and 99th, respectively, in on-ice shooting percentage.  This is something they essentially have no control over.

Eventually the Leafs duo is going to go on a heater, and they’re going to start scoring on a better than average percentage of their shots.  It could normalize and that would bump their totals, but they’re also due to get on a hot streak.

If that happens, when that happens, look out.

And let’s not forget their power-play.  If you’re playing decent hockey and putting up OK results (like say you’re 6-4 under your new coach) and you’ve got some of the worst power-play results despite arguably the best five-man unit in the league, you’re doing better than the results indicate.

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Eventually that power-play will get hot.  There’s no two ways about it.  It’s going to happen, just a matter of time.  And when it does…..