Toronto Maple Leafs Continue to Win Despite Flaws

EDMONTON, AB - JANUARY 28: T.J. Brodie #78, Auston Matthews #34 and Wayne Simmonds #24 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrate a goal against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place on January 28, 2021 in Edmonton, Canada. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)
EDMONTON, AB - JANUARY 28: T.J. Brodie #78, Auston Matthews #34 and Wayne Simmonds #24 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrate a goal against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place on January 28, 2021 in Edmonton, Canada. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images) /
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The Toronto Maple Leafs are 7-2 to start the season, despite being far from perfect.

So, what gives? Is it coaching? Is it because every game is a divisional match-up? Is it a better defensive system? Are the leaders carrying this team?

In my opinion, the team has continued to bend, but they haven’t broke. If you watch closely, the Toronto Maple Leafs have been great at getting the lead, but have been even better at giving it up. I’m still waiting for that dominant 6-1 win, instead of the one-goal wins, but hey, a win is a win.

The biggest thing that has stuck out in nine games this year is the score consistency. Toronto has scored three or more goals in eight of their nine games (89 percent), but has only allowed four or more goals in two of them. Last year was completely different and every game was a rollercoaster of emotions.

During the 2019-20 season, Toronto allowed four or more goals in 43 percent of their games. In that same season, they scored three or more goals in 67 percent of their games. Essentially in order to guarantee themselves a win, the team needed to score at least four goals last season. That high-scoring isn’t sustainable during an entire regular season.

In order to win, especially in the playoffs, you need to win those tight 2-1 or 3-2 games, instead of the 7-6 thrillers.

In only nine games, the Leafs almost have as many wins as they did last year when scoring exactly three goals. Last season, the Leafs went 4-8 when scoring exactly three goals, but this season they’re already 3-1. The ability to score less and win more is huge for this team because the offense is only going to improve.

Leafs Continue To Win Despite Many Flaws

Although the team is 7-2, there are a number of flaws. After the Leafs won against the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday, Sheldon Keefe mentioned a similar narrative, saying:

“We’re not even close to being the team we can be — the team that we would need to be. But a lot of positive things have gotten us to be (7-2).

"The greatest news of all is that none of the games have been perfect and there’s lots of room for growth.” (via: TSN.ca)"

You couldn’t have said it any better, coach.

In terms of flaws, I think the goaltending has been pretty decent, but there’s still room to improve. For example, Freddie Andersen’s stats are mediocre thus far. In seven games, he has a .896 SV% and 2.87 GAA, despite a 5-2 record.

The Leafs depth has provided some timely scoring as of late, despite Ilya Mikheyev going goal-less. The Campbell Soup spokesman continues to pile up chances but hasn’t scored, yet. Speaking of depth, injuries to Nick Robertson and Joe Thornton haven’t stopped this team from winning and once they get back, this team is only going to improve.

The biggest flaw, and although this isn’t really a flaw, is the core-four. Mitch Marner is the only player who’s scoring points up to his potential right now. Auston Matthews still has another level to bring and once he gets hot, this team is going to be unstoppable. William Nylander went scoreless in seven games before scoring against Edmonton, despite excellent peripheral stats, while John Tavares has yet to score an even-strength goal.

Obviously I’m nitpicking because those players have been far from bad, but they all have another level to get to. Also, I still believe that Matthews has a chance to win the Hart Trophy this year if he reaches his max potential.

Next. Leafs Should Trade for Vince Dunn. dark

Regardless of the flaws, it’s awesome to see the Toronto Maple Leafs rack up wins despite playing their best because the best is yet to come.