The Toronto Maple Leafs enter the NHL Christmas Shutdown in second place in the Atlantic.
Second place ain’t half bad, however, when it’s a technicality. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning share the exact same 20-10 record, but the Lightning lost an extra two games in OT and thus have the Loser Point Advantage.
The Panthers have fallen off in recent times – 4-5-1 in their last ten – and those of us who laughed when everyone picked them to be better than the Leafs in the summer are happy to have been proven correct. (stats naturalstattrick.com).
So far my prediction about the NHL’s 5 Best Teams from the preseason is looking pretty good – Edmonton’s recent slide proving to be my only misstep so far.
Toronto Maple Leafs By the Numbers
The Leafs went on a 15-2 run, and enter the break having won two in a row and three of four. The are currently on an 18-4-1 run, but that isn’t the most incredible thing.
The most incredible thing is that the Toronto Maple Leafs have picked up over 80% of the points available to them since October 27th and are the NHL’s best team during this time.
You may not remember, but before the 27th of October the Leafs were ranked 10th by expected-goals percentage, but they were ranked 26th in save percentage and 29th in shooting percentage.
This means that while the Leafs have been the NHL’s best team for all but seven games this season, during those seven games they were getting just insanely unlucky. Oh and Auston Matthews didn’t dress for three of them.
Crazily, they can still get better: At 5v5 the Leafs are ranked 8th by goals-percentage, but 3rd by expected-goals. Not too shabby!
According to ESPN, the Leafs also have the NHL’s best power-play and are seventh on the PK. So for those keeping track: 3rd best 5v5 team, best special teams, and the best team overall since October 27th.
Of the members of the Toronto Maple Leafs who have played most games, only Ondrej Kase, Justin Holl and Nick Ritchie have negative expected-goals ratings. Consider that Holl still gets a lot of tough minutes, while Kase plays some of the hardest minutes in hockey.
No number illustrates how good the Leafs are like their scoring chance numbers. The Leafs have 78 scoring chances more than Florida, who are second in the NHL. They have more than a hundred scoring chances more than the third place team.
The Leafs get .8 scoring chances more than Florida for every 60 minutes of 5v5 ice-time, but incredibly, they get 3.6 more scoring chances than the NHL’s 3rd best team in this category.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are for real, and they’re spectacular.