The Toronto Maple Leafs are one of the top two teams in the NHL.
Now, obviously, if you look at the standings that isn’t true. The truth is that the Toronto Maple Leafs are 20th in the overall standings.
But the standings are big fat liars.
The two best rosters in the NHL are Tampa Bay and Toronto. That those teams have been unlucky and had bad starts to the season doesn’t change anything.
Fans and analysts have an extremely difficult time analyzing the game beyond the results and that’s understandable – it’s human nature. But results are random, and 32 games into a season results are a less reliable predictor of future performance than roster strength.
No teams have as many high-end players as the Leafs and Lightning. That’s indisputable.
The season still has roughly 50 games to go, and I’m confident that time will prove me correct.
The turnaround is starting to happen already.
Toronto Maple Leafs Are the Best Team in Hockey
If you want to know the measure of a team, ask yourself what the main topic of conversation is surrounding them. For the Leafs it’s the back-up goalie.
Jimmy’s Rule of Hockey Team Strength: If you’re talking about the back-up goalie, your team is awesome. This is a rule as concrete as the Pythagorean Theorem or Slanskey’s Rule in Poker.
Now clearly the Leafs are a crazy team: No team can rival Tavares/Matthews down the middle. Especially not with Kerfoot on the third line.
The Leafs 3rd and 4th line options are the best in hockey, no one has a list of Timashov, Agostino, Aberg, Brookes, Engvall, Spezza, Gauthier, Petan, Wilson, etc. to fill out their roster with.
No other team in the NHL is forced to play Trevor Moore on the fourth line or Kasperi Kapanen on the third line.
And the oft criticized defense features 3 #1 defensemen (Rielly, Barrie, Muzzin) and two emerging potential stars in Justin Holl and Travis Dermott.
Oh and possibly the best goalie in the world.
The Leafs went through a lot of things that contributed to their bad record so far this year, but those things won’t keep happening:
– They had a bad coach, and quit on him.
– They got horrible goaltending from their back-up
– They had like two months of sub- .900 goaltending
– Their insane power-play lineup went dormant for two months
– They changed coaches and systems mid-stream
– They haven’t dressed their optimal lineup for a single full game this season
Since changing coaches, the Leafs are 8-4 which is an excellent record. But they’re only 12th in shooting percentage, and 10th in save percentage since the change. They are averaging a minute less PP time than the 30th ranked team. (All stats naturalstattrick.com).
And they’ve completely changed their systems, which takes time.
Logic tells us that the penalty thing is a fluke, that Andersen is better than the 10th best goalie, and that with their offense they’ll shoot a higher percentage than 12th.
Not only that, but they’ll improve as they learn their systems and their roles.
Remember, during their early season struggles, they were missing Marner, Tavares or Hyman for nearly every game. That was, what, the second best line in all the NHL last year? Not having it makes a difference.
Just wait until this team goes on a heater. Just wait until the PP starts to go off, or until Matthews or Tavares get hot at the same time.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are going to prove shortly to be the best team in the NHL because they have the most elite players, the deepest roster, and eventually they’ll get healthy.
And if they need to make an addition? Well they’ve got the NHL’s best general manager to get it done.