During a game in late October, the Toronto Maple Leafs were down 4-1 to Tampa after the worst first period anyone had seen since Randy Carlyle was the coach.
Had the Toronto Maple Leafs lost that game, it would have been their fifth in a row, and things would have gotten interesting.
A fired coach? A big trade? At least some reflection on how bad of a summer the new GM had?
But instead, the Leafs won. Improbably, they came back from down three goals and won the game.
Then they kept winning. While I wrote this before last night’s game started, they are (or at least were) pretty much the hottest team in the NHL.
Despite a ton of injuries – though other than Joseph Woll and Timothy Liljegren, none to significant players – and a host of other problems, the Leafs keep winning.
Since that night in October, they are 12-4-4, which is a points percentage of .700 and good enough, over a full season, to win the President’s Trophy as the NHL’s best team.
The Leafs have points in 10 of their last 11, but problems remain.
Toronto Maple Leafs On Fire, But Problems Remain
Basically, as I’ve said all season, the Toronto Maple Leafs have an awesome core but have problems with overall depth, and are hurt badly by not having an elite defenseman.
Clearly those are not easy problems to fix, but the fact the team just seems to do nothing but win anyways should put some pressure on management to be proactive and not wait for the team to start losing before identifying problems.
The Leafs are 26th in the NHL in expected goals against per minute.
They are ranked 20th in expected goals percentage, and 6th overall by points-percentage.
The Leafs are a team whose goalies have stolen nine points for them (four wins by Woll, an OT loss by Samsonov). Take those games away, and they are one point behind Ottawa in 29th place.
And that says nothing about their record in one-goal games (it’s excellent, but one goal games are a mathematical coin-flip), OT (almost half their games have gone to OT), regulation wins (tied with Chicago at 7 and only four teams have less).
Those points count, and a win is a win. But when a team posts results that are better than the team deserves, it is up to management to recognize that and make moves accordingly.
If the Leafs GM is sitting back and admiring his work right now, he is going to pay for it eventually. If, however, he realizes how lucky he’s actually been and works to correct some obvious problems, this quarter-schedule of blissfully undeserved luck could really pay off down the road when a bolstered Leafs team contends or wins a division title.
And that says nothing about their record in one-goal games (it’s excellent, but one goal games are a mathematical coin-flip), OT (almost half their games have gone to OT), regulation wins (tied with Chicago at 7 and only four teams have less)