Toronto Maple Leafs: You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 17: William Nylander #88 of the Toronto Maple Leafs looks to make a check against the Ottawa Senators during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on February 17, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Senators 2-1. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 17: William Nylander #88 of the Toronto Maple Leafs looks to make a check against the Ottawa Senators during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on February 17, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Senators 2-1. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /
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The Toronto Maple Leafs are the NHL’s best team.

That has been obvious for a while.  The Toronto Maple Leafs lead the NHL in points, and are also leading in points-percentage, getting an incredible 76.2% of all available points.  For context, that’s a 125 point pace over a full season, and the NHL’s best ever regular season team, the 2018-19 Tampa Bay Lightning, finished with 128 points.

After listening to people wrongly complain about the Leafs inability to get out of a division featuring Tampa and Boston, it’s hilarious to look at the standings and see that the NHL’s top three teams are the old Atlantic Division trio.  You can’t make this stuff up.

A sane person would look at a team built around a couple of 20 year olds and think it was amazing that they almost toppled a legacy team at the far end of its competitive window (and Cup winner) not once, but twice in a row.   But in the world we live in, not only are results the only thing that matters, people actually track you down and insult you for pointing out that results-based analysis is awful, even though that’s something you learn in second grade.

Like I said, you can’t make this stuff up.

Toronto Maple Leafs vs Calgary Flames

You have to love the heart and soul effort of this Leafs team.  Down by two after destroying and toying with a Flames team for six straight periods without a goal.  David Rittich, channeling his inner Joonas korpisalo, was unbelievable.

But the Leafs never quit, and who was there crashing the net with the determination of a hundred Zach Hymans and scoring from his knees?  Why yes, it is the Leafs third best forward, William Nylander.

Now, scoring from down low is nothing new to the Leafs superstar, as he led the NHL in net-front goals last season, and as any heatmap or shot chart will tell you.  Evidence? Who needs that when you can just say he’s a perimeter player because you feel like it?   Don’t let facts get in your people!  You can’t make this stuff up.

It’s really frustrating, for people who base their opinions on facts and evidence, to watch as the Toronto Media continues to erroneously complain about a player who leads or is second on the team in virtually all on-ice percentages, and is second on the team to Auston Matthews in terms of expected goals percentage, poisoning the minds of virtually all casual fans in the process.

Nylander scored the winning goal last night, and it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving player.  All he does is show up every single night and tilt the ice in his team’s favor.  He now has 40 goals in his last 90 odd games.  He is 12th in goal scoring over this time, across the league.  He has one of the most valuable contracts in the NHL, he produces consistently, and is beloved in the dressing room.  If this was a movie his popularity level would not be believable.  You can’t….you get the picture.

How can such a player be anything but a superstar, beloved of fans and media alike? You couldn’t even make up a narrative as dumb as this, it is truly nonsensical.  Nylander now has 16 points in 21 games, which is 60 point production, over a full season.  Considering his shooting percentage, second line role, and second power-play usage, that is incredible.   It’s a 90 point season if he gets the ice time of other top players (which, he is always going to play behind Marner and Matthew, as he should, so that’s fine. That’s what being on a good team costs). (stats naturalstattrick.com).

But it’s hilarious that such a player takes so much heat.  Imagine how many points he’d have right now if John Tavares wasn’t shooting a preposterous 5% at even-strength.

Next. Who Is the Leafs Next Call-Up?. dark

The Toronto Maple Leafs are the best team in the NHL, and Nylander is one of the best players in the NHL.  It’s time for fans and media alike to embrace both.