The Toronto Maple Leafs have been a great team since they hired Sheldon Keefe.
Despite the league’s most negative, panic-friendly fans, the Toronto Maple Leafs are in excellent shape heading into the final stretch of games.
All you hear the last few days is how the Leafs are sitting out side a playoff spot. This is a situation that sounds much worse than it is.
Six points (three wins) separate 18th and 5th place in the NHL standings.
In the week heading into the all-star break, the Leafs went 1-2-2. But if you break down the games, their record should have been a lot better.
Toronto Maple Leafs So Much Better Than Given Credit For
The two shootout games (Flames, Jets) were two of their best games this year. They will almost always get an extra two points in those games.
In the infamous Panthers game, Florida scored something like six goals on 1.5 expected goals, while the Leafs put nearly 50 shots on net. This was a total fluke that occurs maybe once a year. Andersen had maybe his worst game ever, and the Leafs lost, but normally they don’t.
The Hawks game wasn’t exactly a work of art, but they were down 3-0 on three goals that are almost never going in.
The point here is that if you replay those games a million times, the Leafs would go 5-0-0 significantly more often than they’d go 1-2-2, and that is without Morgan Rielly and Jake Muzzin. (All stats from naturalstattrick.com).
If the Leafs get four extra points in those five games, something they’d normally do, they would be the #1 team in the NHL by points percentage since Sheldon Keefe took over.
Think about that – if not for one injury filled, totally fluky week, the Leafs would be the best team in the NHL since Keefe took over. Something they were at the start of last week.
If a team that had to fire their coach can be roughly the best team in the league for more than a quarter season, I don’t think there’s anything to worry about when a) they have more games left than Keefe has coached so far and b) their one bad week can be attributed to injury and bad luck and C) one good week can put them back in the league’s top five.
I realize that as a Leafs centric website, our positive views of the team may seem to be biased. But the numbers speak for themselves.
Of the six teams that have more points than Toronto since Keefe took over, five of them have played between 3-5 more games.
The Leafs currently sit out of the playoffs because of the losses accrued under Mike Babcock and his now laughable attempts to make Cody Ceci a top pairing player.
People won’t stop complaining about the Toronto Maple Leafs defense, but since they hired Keefe, only three teams in the NHL get a higher percentage of the expected goals.
With all that the Leafs have accomplished since Sheldon Keefe was made the coach, they’ve also received the 23rd worst goaltending in the NHL.
It’s just common sense: if you are outperforming your goaltending, you’re probably an awesome team. There are two teams in the NHL who have consistently out performed their goaltending this year: Toronto and Washington.
If either of those teams starts to get the goaltending they expect from Andersen and Holtby, look out.
What the Leafs have done – which is be the six best team in the NHL since they got their new coach – has been done with a ridiculous amount of injuries and bad goaltending.
If an injury riddled team with bad goaltending gets healthy and Freddie Andersen starts to play like himself, doesn’t it make sense that the 6th ranked team will only rise in the standings?
The Leafs had a problem: Mike Babcock. They took care of it. Since then, with the exception of one week of hockey where they did not have their two best defensemen, they have been the NHL’s best team.
Three games separate 6th place and 18th place in the NHL.
There are 33 games left.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are in great shape.
If it wasn’t for one unlucky week without Rielly and Muzzin, the Toronto Maple Leafs would be tied for fifth overall in the NHL, despite everything Mike Babcock did to prevent it.