#10. The Toronto Maple Leafs Are Due
Just how many more series do you expect to ever see where Mitch Marner, Auston Matthews and John Tavares combine for one goal?
I would say none.
In the Toronto Maple Leafs last two series, their offense completely deserted them. Against Columbus, they set an NHL record for lowest shooting percentage in a five or more game series. They shot under 2%. We know, thanks to almost two decades of hockey analytics, that shooting percentage is not closely linked to performance, and that any long-term run of low shooting is just bad luck.
It wasn’t even much better against Montreal – the offense went dry.
It won’t happen again. The Leafs have been the better team by expected goals in 11 straight playoff games. The odds of losing two series while doing that are extremely low, and therefore I figure they’re due for some luck.
The Leafs have outperformed their shoddy goaltending all season long, while also scoring less than the numbers say they should. Eventually this will self-correct and they’ll go on a shooting percentage bender where they are nearly unbeatable.
This might not happen in the playoffs, but whatever, the Leafs are due for a little luck and so they might as well get it this year in the playoffs.
A little more tangible is this: it’s better to have lost because you didn’t do what you usually do, than it is to just be outclassed. The Leafs have lost because what they are usually so good at – scoring – didn’t happen. It’s easier to improve on something you’re already good at, so expect the Leafs to finally score in this year’s playoffs and subsequently, to win.