The Toronto Maple Leafs are winning hockey games and that has quieted down the media-frenzy quite a bit since it’s peak two weeks ago.
The problem is that the Toronto Maple Leafs haven’t improved at all, and while their fans should be enjoying the wins, their management should proactively be preparing to patch a very leaky ship.
The Leafs might have won against the Wild on Sunday, but they blew a two-goal lead and allowed a preposterous amount of chances against, only to once again be saved by their ability to outscore their problems.
Make no mistake – with three of the top ten offensive players in the world + John Tavares + Morgan Rielly + Matthew Knies + Tyler Bertuzzi, the Toronto Maple Leafs have the ability to win games they don’t deserver to quite frequently.
Unfortunately, that is no recipe for long-term success.
The Toronto Maple Leafs Have Not Fixed Their Early Season Problems
Here is how the Leafs recent “season turnaround” went down:
Tampa Bay: The Leafs won 6-5 after making a three-goal comeback.
Ottawa: Brutal game, deserved to lose.
Calgary: Blew a three-goal lead.
Vancouver: Not their worst game, but you won’t win too many when you finish with a 44% Expected Goals rating and the other team gets 60% of the 5v5 shots.
Detroit: This was a good game for the Leafs statistically, but they still had to come back from two-goals to win, which even if they were the greatest comeback team in history (they aren’t) they would still lose this game over 90% of the time.
Minnesota: Blew a two goal lead.
So just to recap: The Toronto Maple Leafs have won five out of six games (4-1-1) but in four of those six games, they either blew, or came back from, a multi-goal deficit.
They were the better team, statistically, in just two of those six games.
To date, Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner are barely over 50% Expected Goals (in the previous four years, the lowest they’ve ever finished a season is 55%), which is very concerning. (naturalstattrick.com).
Of their six regular defensemen, only one (Timothy Liljegren) is over 50% Expected Goals.
The Leafs have the 3rd highest shooting percentage in the NHL (which suggests they will score less in the future than they are currently).
The Leafs rank 22nd in Expected Goals Percentage (5v5) as a team.
These are all indications that the team’s record is lucky and that their current level of success is not sustainable. There are fundamental problems with this team that, unless they are not corrected, could possibly lead to the team missing the playoffs.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have four superstars and on nights when they get good goaltending and score a few goals, they can outpace their problems.
But in the long-term every team who enjoys unearned success and ignores their obvious problems (because the results hide them) is asking for trouble, and they almost always get it. The Toronto Maple Leafs need major in-season surgery to avoid missing the playoffs.