The Toronto Maple Leafs might not have played in close to three weeks, but they were having a great season prior to the break.
The Toronto Maple Leafs went on a 15-2 run before Mitch Marner went down with a shoulder injury (thanks to a Jake Muzzin hit in practice!) and currently second in the Atlantic Division, just a couple points back of Tampa for first overall.
Tampa is obviously a team to worry about, and Florida is also having a tough season. But just in case you didn’t realize that the Atlantic Division was the NHL’s toughest division, there is a fourth team that qualifies as one of the NHL’s best.
The Boston Bruins.
Toronto Maple Leafs Can’t Forget About the Bruins
The Bruins are a one-line team that has already peaked and is in decline – that’s the narrative, at least.
Like most popular narratives it’s total crap.
The Bruins have the NHL’s best line, Patrice Bergeron is an ageless wonder, and they remain just as dangerous as ever. Do not count Boston out when talking about the NHL’s best teams.
The Bruins are fifth in the Atlantic. They are behind Detroit! But then again, they’ve also played five less games than the Wings have. Still, by points-percentage, the Bruins are ranked 16th. Barely a playoff team!
If the Playoffs started today, the Bruins would miss them. But fat chance of that actually happening. They are closer to being the league’s best team than they are to being a non-playoff team.
The Bruins are 4th in Corsi (all numbers 5v5 and from naturalstattrick.com).
They are 2nd in shots-for percentage.
The Bruins are 7th in scoring chances for, and 3rd in dangerous scoring chances for.
To top it off, the Bruins are 1st in the NHL in 5v5 expected-goals percentage.
And yet, they are 17th in 5v5 goals-for percentage. At even-strength, the Bruins are not breaking even, with 43 goals for and 44 against.
This is the recipe for an unlucky team about to go on a run. If you gamble, put some money on the Bruins, and the probability is high you’ll be thanking me later.
Figuring out why the Bruins are doing so poorly took me about one second: they are last, dead last, in the NHL In 5v5 shooting percentage.
They are playing in a way that more or less makes them the NHL’s best 5v5 team, and yet they are not scoring. At all.
They have the fourth lowest PDO in the NHL and are due to explode.
The Boston Bruins are a deep team with a ton of talent. Taylor Hall is shooting under 2%. David Pastrnak is shooting under 4%.
This happens in the NHL every single year, and every single time the good team (or player) who is in a shooting-percentage slump rebounds eventually. It’s the most predictable thing in the sport.
The Bruins will not miss the playoffs, and once their cold streak runs its course, they’ll be back on top as one of the NHL’s best teams. The Toronto Maple Leafs don’t just have to worry about Tampa and Florida – Boston is just as good, maybe even better.