The Toronto Maple Leafs finished off their interminable six-game road trip in style last night.
With a fantastic second period, and a life-affirming defense of a two-goal lead, the Toronto Maple Leafs easily defeated the New York Islanders last night by a score of 3-1.
The Leafs finished the game with 53% puck-possession, picked up 63% of the scoring chances, posted a nearly 60% expected goals rating. Petr Mrazek was strong in net, and the Leafs rebounded nicely from the (mostly) unlucky events which occurred in the previous game against the Rangers.
Hats Off to my man Pierre Engvall who scored an incredibly nice goal, and who (along with Kampf and Mikheyev) dominated the Islanders completely in a “defensive” role last night.
Because of their former high-flying ways, I don’t think people have really acknowledged just how many really strong defensive forwards the Leafs have worked into their lineup. Matthews, Marner, Kampf, Kerfoot, Kase , Engvall and Mikheyev are seven of the NHL’s best defensive forwards.
Toronto Maple Leafs Road Trip
A lot was made about the Leafs blowing leads recently, so check out this chart that actually tells you who in the NHL is the worst for blowing leads. Out of the NHL’s top six teams, Carolina has blown 5 two-goal leads this year, and is the best in the NHL among contending teams.
The Leafs have blown 6 leads of two or more goals, but actually have a 4-1-1 record in those games. Tampa has blown 9 leads, Florida 7. So while the Leafs have a historical reputation of blowing leads, the current team is actually among the best in hockey in holding leads, and until this road trip, actually was the best.
The Leafs went 3-2-1 on their six game road trip, good for 58% of the available points. Considering the length of the trip, and the circumstances surrounding it (entire team had Covid, hadn’t played in about a month) and, most of all, the teams they had to play (four of the best teams in the league) this is really impressive. (all stats naturalstattrick.com).
Anytime you can go out on the road and beat St. Louis, New York, Las Vegas and lose in OT to Colorado, you’ve got to be happy. If you consider how fluky the loss to the Arizona Coyotes was, then you have one game out of six that warrants complaint (and even that, the game against the Rangers, was only lost because the goalie had a bad game).
On their road trip, the Leafs posted a 53% possession rating, picked up 53% of the shots, and 57% of the dangerous scoring chances, and 56% of the high-danger chances, while posting an expected-goals rating of 56%, tied for 3rd league-wide during this time.
That’s right, if you eliminate luck from the equation, the Toronto Maple Leafs went out on just about the hardest possible road trip imaginable and were the NHL’s 3rd best team during that time.
I’ve been waiting years to say this, but you can actually start planning that parade today.