Toronto Maple Leafs Something Like the Best Team in the NHL

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 03: John Tavares #91 of the Toronto Maple Leafs in action against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center on March 03, 2020 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 03: John Tavares #91 of the Toronto Maple Leafs in action against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center on March 03, 2020 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs ended up having a pretty good start to the new NHL season.

The Pittsburgh game cast a shadow on games against New York, Ottawa and San Jose that the Toronto Maple Leafs normally would have won by scoring their way out of trouble.

I think it’s safe to say that if you .500 after nine games you’ve got to honestly assess your team and ask if you’re playing well and not getting rewarded, or if you’re just a middle of the road team.

Since the Leafs are .500 and Auston Matthews has one goal (instead of eight or nine) I think the Leafs will be alright.  Even their defensive problems are somewhat overblown, since they allowed 12 goals in two games on back-to-back nights and otherwise average 2.4 goals against per game.

The fact is that the Leafs are having a great start to the season, they just haven’t been able to buy a break.  Check out the stats below if you don’t believe me when I say that the Leafs are one of the NHL’s best teams…maybe even the best team, if you squint a little.  (using

Toronto Maple Leafs Team Stats

The Leafs currently sit first in the NHL in 5v5 Corsi-for.  The Leafs are getting nearly 56% of the shot-attempts across nine games.  Last year’s Corsi leader was Colorado who also led the NHL in points. The year before, it was the Golden Knights who were and are one of the NHL’s best teams.

The Leafs are tenth in shots-for percentage, and fifth in expected-goals percentage.  The Leafs lead the NHL in expected goals by a mile.  They are also leading in the NHL by having the least actual goals vs their expected-goals.

From the above Tweet, courtesy @Jfresh, you can see that the Leafs are failing to score despite absolutely destroying the competition for the most part.  The Leafs are first in puck-possession, and 5th in expected goals, and have fought to a .500 record without a power-play, or production from their two best players.

They should terrify the rest of the NHL because they are on the verge of becoming the most dominant team in the league.

The Toronto Maple Leafs lead the NHL in shot-attempts per minute, scoring chances per minute, and expected goals per minute.  They are a microscopic amount away from being 1st overall in high-danger scoring chances per minute.

The Leafs are currently ranked 24th in the NHL In goals per minute of power-play time.  They have essentially been playing with one hand tided behind their back all year because their power-play has not been successful.

The peripheral numbers are good though, so like the 5v5 offense, it is guaranteed to kick in eventually.

The Leafs currently have the sixth lowest PDO in hockey (5v5) and have the fourth lowest shooting percentage overall (all situations).  This shows that the Leafs have been unlucky because over time their shooting percentage is guaranteed to revert back to the norm.  Keep in mind that for the 208 games across the three preceding seasons, the Leafs are the NHL’s highest scoring 5v5 team, and the second highest scoring team overall, and have the third highest shooting percentage.

208 game sample vs nine game sample.  I will leave it to you to decide which one is more predictive of the team’s immediate future.

The Toronto Maple Leafs may just have a .500 record, but from a statistical standpoint they are something approaching the best team in the NHL so far this season.  Should they maintain their standard of play, eventually the goals will go in for them more frequently and they will take their rightful place atop the NHL standings.

Next. How the Leafs Could Improve, Even on Near Perfection. dark

It’s pretty easy to see why people are down about this team, but for those of us who have stuck with them this long, it appears very close to paying off.  A .500 team that can add Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and a power-play to the mix is something to be extremely optimistic about.