Toronto Maple Leafs: Week 7 News and Notes, Stats and Quotes

William Nylander, Mitch Marner, Morgan Rielly, Toronto Maple Leafs (Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports)
William Nylander, Mitch Marner, Morgan Rielly, Toronto Maple Leafs (Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Wayne Simmonds, Toronto Maple Leafs
Wayne Simmonds, Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

Injury Update

Wayne Simmonds, fractured wrist, IR (injured 02-05, timeline 6 weeks).

Rasmus Sandin, fractured foot, will be re-evaluated in mid-march.

Jake Muzzin, facial fracture, currently playing with a face shield.

Jack Campbell, lower-body, DTD.

Stat of the Week:  .918 > .901

The Toronto Maple Leafs are 4th in the NHL with a team SV% of .918.  Last year they had a team SV% of .901.  That is a huge turnaround.  Are our goalies just performing much better this year or is the team playing better defensively?  The answer is probably both, but I decided to take a deeper look (all stats via

Hutchinson is 3-1 with a .943 SV% this season, after being the 4th goalie on the depth chart at the beginning of the year.  His career SV% is .907.  It begs the question, is he playing this well?  Or is he riding the success of a team that is playing really inspired hockey right now?

Jack Campbell has a .951 SV% this year.  He has a career SV% of .918.

Our back-up goalies are not really THIS good.  The team defense has improved dramatically, and this is allowing both of these guys to just make some saves.  No issues with rebounds.  Very few odd-man rushes to contend with.  The middle of the ice is clogged, so they don’t need to go from side to side very often.  They can challenge.  They can read plays.  They can get comfortable in the net.  Even a back-up goalie is still an NHL goalie, and they will make saves if given the chance to do so.

What about Frederik Andersen and his .909 SV%?  That number includes the first two games of the season when Andersen was absolutely horrible.  It also includes the worst game the Leafs have played all year, as he was in net for the 6-5 loss to the Sens when they came back from a 5-1 deficit.  If you take those 3 games out, anomalies basically, Freddy sits pretty nicely at 11-1 with a .926 SV% on the year.  His career SV% is a .916.  When you take a deeper look, even Freddy has numbers that are higher than his career norms.

All of this is not luck.  It’s also, to the contrary of some popular opinions, not because the goalies have been better.  They have performed better, yes, but it’s because they have been given a fair chance to do so.  Collectively, all of our goalies are outperforming their expectations, and that doesn’t happen randomly.

Sheldon Keefe has set the bar higher for this team and he is holding them accountable.  Team defense is not an option now, it’s a must, it’s the foundation their success.  The team is 18-4-2.  They are 4th in the league in GA/game.  Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner are leading the way on the ice with elite 200 ft games, and the veteran additions made by Dubas has helped surround them with a strong foundation of leadership and support.

Simply put, here’s a table showing where the Leafs rank in the league for key defensive stats this year compared to last year:

                 2019-2020          2020-2021                       

SV%              18th                        4th            

GA                25th                        4th

xGA              27th                        10th

SCA              23rd                        12th

HDA             21st                         9th

One key part of that table to take note of is the disparity between SV% rank and GA rank from 2019-2020.  This means that last year their SV% out-performed their GA, which could be interpreted to mean that our goalies actually out-performed our team defense.  In 2020-2021, the rank for both stats are the same, which means that they are supporting each other to an even ranking, and much greater team success.

This isn’t a mirage folks.  The Leafs are really good.  And, it’s hard to say this without laughing, but the Leafs are good defensively.

Brodie is a really good defenseman and has been a really nice addition.  Holl has continued the development he showed last year, and has become a legitimate top-4 defenseman with size and speed.  Dermott has showed the maturity everybody has been waiting for and become more reliable from game to game.  Bogosian has been a calm and steady influence that is nasty to play against.  Muzzin is Muzzin, and Rielly is Rielly.

The D core is no longer the problem in Toronto.  In fact, it is now one of the top 10 units in the league.  Let that crazy fact sink in for a minute.