Toronto Maple Leafs Dust Their Old Rival, Win 5th in a Row

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) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Boston Bruins and won their fifth in a row Saturday night while announcing themselves as one of the NHL’s best teams.

Las Vegas, Tampa, Boston: The Toronto Maple Leafs ran the gauntlet this week and looked good doing it.

Five wins in a row, the best goalie in hockey, a ridiculously mobile blue line, four superstars scoring at will, and the best shut-down line in the game.  It’s a recipe for success, and since we’re talking about the Leafs, who knows how long it will last, but they showed this week how good they can be when things come together.

The Leafs have looked great in the last five games, but the crazy thing is that they’re only scratching the surface of what they can be – Auston Matthews can still bring more, and heading into last night’s game they were still last in the NHL in actual goals compared to expected. (all stats

Toronto Maple Leafs Dust the Bruins

It’s hilarious, after getting robbed by goalies for a week or two, Matthews suddenly has five goals in nine games.  He had just one in his first seven.

Mitch Marner was ridiculous last night, showing off the skills that make him one of the three to five best players in the entire world.  Still just 24, Marner isn’t even done getting better.  He now has a point per game, and even with the rough start, his peripheral numbers are still solid.

Based on the perception of him recently, you’d probably be surprised to learn that with Marner on the ice at 5v5 the Leafs have scored 8 and allowed 4 for a 66% goals-for percentage.  He has two less 5v5 points than Connor McDavid.  With Mark Stone and Sidney Crosby injured, there is currently one elite scoring forward in the NHL who is also an elite defensive player.

Of note is how good the Leafs blue-line has been during this five game run.  The desecion to sit Holl has really paid off because Liljegren has been fantastic. He leads all Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman with a 67% expected goals rating.  Sure, he’s not playing the toughest minutes, but it’s impressive never the less.

Marner now has ten points in his last five games, with four of those coming last night. The Leafs are redhot and they’ll play the LA Kings on Monday.  If they can extend their streak and go an extended run, some people might even start to come around.

As it stands., the Leafs are ranked sixth overall.

Here is a list of the teams ranked by points overall, and where those teams rank by PDO (5v5 save percentage + shooting percentage) which shows luck.  Teams ranked lowly will usually do better in the future, and vice versa (though not always).

Florida  8th in PDO

Carolina  1st in PDO

Edmonton  10th in PDO

Calgary   6th in PDO

St. Louis   5th in PDO

Toronto   21st in PDO

dark. Next. One Trade to Rule Them All

So who is the best team in the NHL?  Well I’ll tell you the same thing I would have said before the season began: Tampa Bay.  But the Toronto Maple Leafs are a strong second.  And getting better.  And, if you’re wondering, it’s not that hard being right all the time.