Toronto Maple Leafs: Statistics Give Reason for Goalie Optimism

MONTREAL, QC - APRIL 28: Goaltender Jack Campbell #36 of the Toronto Maple Leafs goes through his pre-period ritual prior to the start of the second period against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre on April 28, 2021 in Montreal, Canada. The Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Montreal Canadiens 4-1. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
MONTREAL, QC - APRIL 28: Goaltender Jack Campbell #36 of the Toronto Maple Leafs goes through his pre-period ritual prior to the start of the second period against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre on April 28, 2021 in Montreal, Canada. The Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Montreal Canadiens 4-1. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /
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The Toronto Maple Leafs are currently 3rd in the NHL standings.

Though they are ranked 3rd overall, the Toronto Maple Leafs are near the very bottom of the NHL in 5v5 save percentage, ranking 29th overall.

Now, without any other information, this would still be a good thing for the Leafs:

Given that they can be the 3rd best team with the 4th worst goaltending, we can assume that any time they get even league-average goaltending or better, they’ll be the best team.

We know that goaltending is pretty close to random, and independent from team defense.  There is no way to predict how a goalie will play at any given  time, so even though the Leafs goaltending has been horrendous, the odds are it won’t be this bad going forward.

What I’m trying to say here is that even though the Leafs goalies have been bad on the whole, there is no reason to think they will continue to be so, and statistically, any improvement to their goalie stats makes them the best team there is.

But there is even more good news:

Toronto Maple Leafs Goalie Situation 

The Toronto Maple Leafs have used five goalies this year: Jack Campbell, Petr Mrazek, Erik Kallgren, Joseph Woll and Michael Hutchinson. (stats from naturalstattrick.com).

17 of their 76 games (22%) have been started by non-NHL goalies.  That is to say that almost one-quarter of their total games have been started by AHL (or worse) goalies who do not belong in the NHL, and would not have played if not for the NHL’s ridiculous waiver rules that prevent teams from having a quality 3rd goalie.

Any save percentage 91% or worse puts you in the bottom 25% of the league, and three of the Leafs goalies (Mrazek, Hutchinson, Kallgren) are below this figure, and have combined to play 33 games and counting.

So far, that is 43% of their games where they started a goalie who is performing like crap.

Importantly, Jack Campbell is not included in that category.

Now, Campbell’s .915 save percentage isn’t great, but it’s about league average.  The Bruins 5v5 save percentage on the year is .916 and they are ranked 15th in the NHL.

Remember, the Leafs are the 3rd best team with the 29th best goaltending, so it’s reasonable to think that with even league average goaltending, they’d be much better.

And there is more good news.

In 2021 (the year) Jack Campbell led the NHL in save percentage and goal differential.  His decline coincides with his injury, and he’s healthy now.  Even with the injury, he’s provided league-average goaltending, but it stands to reason that he’ll be better going forward.

Even though he’s had a rough couple of months, having the best goalie of 2021 (the year, not the season) when it’s just 2022 can only be seen as a really, really good thing.

Even at his worst, however, Campbell appears to have no problem being average, which all this team really needs.  Sure, the Leafs are just one injury away from disaster, but so is literally every single other team.

The Leafs goaltending is 29th in the NHL, because Petr Mrazek was horrible and a series of 3rd stringers was not much better. However, all the evidence we have suggests that when healthy Jack Campbell is among the NHL’s elite goalies, and that, even when he’s not, he  is, at worst,  average.

All together, the Toronto Maple Leafs have a points-percentage of 69.7% but in games Campbell has started that goes up to 73.4%, even though he played through an injury for much of that time.

Next. Top 11 Reasons Why This Year Is Different for the Leafs. dark

If you alter the Leafs record to account for league average goaltending, instead of league-worst goaltending, they are the NHL’s top team.  Therefore, going forward, as long as Campbell is in net, the Toronto Maple Leafs should be very confident about their chances.