Toronto Maple Leafs: How to Deal With Bad Luck and Keep the Faith

SAN JOSE, CA - JANUARY 26: Auston Matthews #34 and John Tavares #91 of the Toronto Maple Leafs pose prior to the 2019 Honda NHL All-Star Game at SAP Center on January 26, 2019 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA - JANUARY 26: Auston Matthews #34 and John Tavares #91 of the Toronto Maple Leafs pose prior to the 2019 Honda NHL All-Star Game at SAP Center on January 26, 2019 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs played a terrible game last night.

A 7-1 loss is bad at the best of times, but following the playoff loss to the Montreal Canadiens last spring, it makes things look much worse than they are for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Maybe you don’t want to hear what I’m about to say, so please if you just want to vent skip the rest of this article and hop on down to the comments section with your worst insult. I’m a big boy, I can take it.

If you’re still here, then, like me, you probably realize that things are not as bad as they seem right now for the boys in the blue and white.  (all stats

In an alternate world, the Leafs score an extra goal or two on Anton Forsberg in the second game of the year and win the game, like almost all teams who get 47 shots on net do.  Then they beat the Rangers, a team they deserved to beat 7-1 themselves.   They didn’t play their best against San Jose, but they played well enough that they’ll win most of the time.

Changing nothing they go into Pittsburgh 5-0 and then when they outshoot the Pens 12-1 only to have them score two goals in ten seconds, the don’t completely collapse out of frustration.

The Toronto Maple Leafs Are Fine

If you’re still with me, I’m not laying out excuses here. I’m just saying that results of hockey games don’t always go the way they should.  Just a little bounce here, or a great save there, and suddenly you’re record is 2-3-1 and you are on the wrong end of an embarrassing beatdown.

Last night’s game got away from the Leafs, but if you can divorce yourself from your emotions for five seconds,  you can clearly see how they were yet again playing well without getting rewarded and it just got to them.

It could happen to the best of us.  The fact is, the Leafs outplayed the Canadiens and lost. Then they outplayed five straight teams and started the year 2-3. Then they were out playing the Penguins when they caught one in the jaw and just couldn’t get back up.

I know everyone wants to fire the coach, or trade a star player, but the fact is, the Leafs are just on a cold shooting streak, and there’s nothing for it but to wait it out.

Auston Matthews has one goal in his last ten games (games in which he either needed surgery or just recovered from surgery) and in those ten games, the Leafs are 2-5-3.  Since overtime games are just a coin-flip, the fact is that the Leafs could easily have a .500 record during a  streak where the guy who you can count on for seven goals in ten games just has one.

It’s not pleasant to lose, but it’s easier to do it when you know you’re playing shorthanded. It’s also easier to recover when your best feature (goal scoring) is what is causing you to  lose.

The Leafs currently sit 31st out of 31 teams in all-situations shooting percentage. Despite having the NHL’s best offense, they sit dead last in shooting percentage.  For the previous 208 games, they sit third, so we now that this six game sample is not indicative of their abilities.

The 208 game  sample sees the Leafs doubling the current six game sample.   Double the Leafs current goal total, and guess what? They’re leading the NHL with 23 goals, and their record is probably 5-1 or maybe even perfect.

So sure, be mad about the Toronto Maple Leafs game last night.  But remember, a sample size of 208 games says that they are just getting very unlucky right now. Auston Matthews has zero goals.  And the defense and goaltending has been good to great.

When this team scores, they will be among the best in the league.  So here is my prediction, and its the same as it was last week: The Toronto Maple Leafs will win the Atlantic Division,  and compete for the President’s Trophy and Stanley Cup.   Nothing has changed.

The Leafs are third in the NHL in puck-possession, and seventh in expected goals. Those stats are far more repeatable than their shooting percentage, and all but guarantee eventual success.

Next. Top 10 Prospects. dark

When they start scoring, which is inevitable, they’ll start winning. Until then, they’ve just got to put their heads down and work, and ownership and management has to stay the course.  Me, I’m gonna finish ‘salem’s Lot , and then spin some Sinatra while I throw down on some FF7 and not think about hockey for the next twelve or so hours.