The Toronto Maple Leafs lost last night to the Edmonton Oilers in a game they probably deserved to lose in regulation. Instead they picked up a point and remain in first place in the NHL.
I don’t know that you ever want to celebrate a loss, but this one was close. The Toronto Maple Leafs were completely and utterly gassed and, have played a brutal schedule over the first (and I can’t believe it has not even been a full) three weeks of the season.
You have to give it to the Leafs for playing ten games in 18 nights and giving themselves a chance to win every single one of them. They started the season with four games in six nights, then alternated a day on and a day off for 12 straight days. This also included four games against the Oilers (with McDavid and Draisaitl, probably the toughest Canadian matchup) and a western road trip during a pandemic.
So thanks to the team for doing so well and trying so hard for our entertainment during what is surely a terrible time to be a professional athlete. Not to mention that the schedule now gives the formless blob we used to call “time” back some of it’s structure, which is nice.
Toronto Maple Leafs Start to the Season
How do you evaluate a team that is doing great but posting numbers that say that record is a fluke, after they were only recently a team that was posting great numbers but getting bad results? (stats naturalstattrick.com).
How do you evaluate them when their schedule is insane? When Matthews has only 3 5v5 goals (two that he scored by shooting) and Tavares has zero?
Is this team going to improve or fall back to earth? Most likely both. They will start to put up better 5v5 stats, but they won’t always win games at a record setting pace. I assume. I mean, who knows?
The Leafs best goal scorers have combined to shoot 2 pucks into the net with sticks at 5v5, and their goalie’s total save percentage is under .900. That tells me that they will improve in the future, because those are guaranteed to get better.
But will that be offset by Justin Holl no longer playing like the NHL’s best defenseman? Or is just suddenly this good? These are the questions we want to know.
That and, just how good can this team be when Nick Robertson and Joe Thornton are getting regular ice time? How good can they be if everything clicks? We still don’t know, but it’s going to be fun to find out.
The Toronto Maple Leafs will resume their schedule Thursday back at home against the Canucks. They will play seven of their next eight at home, six of those games against Ottawa and Vancouver. I think we’ll know a lot more about just what kind of team the Leafs have when those games are done.