Sixteen games into a new season and the Toronto Maple Leafs don’t have a team identity. Enough games have been played and trends are beginning to develop.
A look at the Toronto Maple Leafs and there is cause for concern in many areas. As expected, the offense has been their strength, but there are disturbing trends to consider there as well.
The holes on the team’s defense were the most obvious worry heading into the season, and nothing has occurred to alleviate that stumbling block.
The Leafs need to decide what kind of team they want to be.
The Toronto Maple Leafs Still Don’t Have An Identity
A peek at the NHL team rankings displays the Leafs mediocrity. In many areas, they are the definition of meh.
First, the good news. Their offense has scored 55 goals to rank fifth league-wide. Their power play remains potent, with a success rate of 28.26% to rank 6th.
Now, for the troublesome areas.
The Leafs 5 vs 5 Corsi For percentage is 50.24 to rank 12th. They have given up 54 goals against to rank 24th. Their SRS (average goal differential compared to strength of schedule) is 0.11 to rank 16th. Their SOS (strength of schedule) is 0.04. (All Stats courtesy of Hockeyreference.com)
All of which is to say that the Leafs have put up middling rankings in several important categories against an average difficulty of schedule.
Goaltender Ilya Samsonov has mostly struggled. Joseph Woll has had moments of brilliance and stolen a couple of victories for the Leafs, but he has been ordinary in recent games.
The Leafs goalies have combined for a .908 save percentage at 5 on 5. The league average is .919.
Their HDF (high-danger for) at 5 vs 5 is 129, while their HDA (high-danger against) is 141, for a net rating of -12. (All Stats courtesy of Hockeyreference.com)
The Leafs penalty killing has also been atrocious. They are barely over a 70% success rate.
If it were not for the heroics of Woll on a couple of occasions and the elite play of William Nylander and Auston Matthews the Leafs would be in dire straits.
They are fortunate to be in the playoff picture and not chasing the pack.
The power play, gaining extra points in overtime or shootouts, and their stars leading them are the few positives to start the year.
It’s not a lot to hang your hat on. It is also not sustainable.
A lack of depth on defense, a drop off offensively in 5 vs 5 play, more consistent goaltending, and an incapable fourth line are the problems to be fixed.
The Toronto Maple Leafs need to use the trip to Sweden and participation in the NHL Global Series for some soul-searching.
They need to figure out who they are and play to that identity before their luck runs out.