The Toronto Maple Leafs are sitting 7th in the NHL in points-percentage.
Additionally, the Toronto Maple Leafs are on a 6-1-3 ten-game run that has seen them get 80% of the points available to them.
They are putting up the results of a President’s Trophy and Stanley Cup Contender.
They are six points back of Boston for the division lead, and have a game in hand. (In baseball, a sport that knows how to do standings properly, they would be 2.5 games back with over half a season to go).
By all results-based metrics, the Leafs are doing amazingly well. They are everything they were expected to be coming in to the season, and more.
And they’ve been doing it while going through quite a lot of injuries (though, no impact players, other than their rookie goalie have missed time).
So what is my problem?
The Toronto Maple Leafs Record Is Massively Inflated
To be clear, I do not have a problem with the Leafs winning. I want them to win, I get aggressively excited when they score, and as a fan, I am extremely happy with how the season has gone.
But, I also want the team to win the Stanley Cup, so I am concerned that they will eventually pay for their lucky results with a lot of losses. It is entirely possible that their GM gets proactive and addresses their issues before they start to show in the standings.
That’s a best case scenario.
I am concerned about what I call Ottawa-Edmonton Syndrome. Both those teams made it to the Stanley Cup Finals by getting very lucky, and then they made moves as if they were contenders, even though they were really pretenders.
The Leafs have a great core, and if they got lucky at the right time, they could win the Cup as they are today.
But they would be far more likely to win it if they were playing complete, 60 minute games and dominating their opponents.
That isn’t happening right now, and anyone who cares already knows about their low expected-goals percentage, their preponderance of overtime games, their unsustainable record in one-goal games etc.
But here is something crazy:
While 12 of their 25 games have got to overtime, 11 of those 25 games have seen the Leafs blow a multi-goal lead or comeback from one.
That in itself is crazy.
What is absolutely nuts is that they are undefeated in those games.
You don’t need to be well-versed in advanced statistics to realize that if you go down two goals, or if you blow a two-goal lead, that you usually lose the game.
Pretty much always.
Unless you are the 2023 Toronto Maple Leafs, that is.
As of December 12th, the Leafs are 7-0-4 in games in which they either blow or come back from a two or more goal lead.
In games where they blew a two goal lead, they are 3-0-1.
In games where they come back from down two or more, they are 4-0-3. There are only two other games where they were down by two goals before half-way through the third period and failed to come back. (game info from nhl.com).
From what I can gather, if you are down two goals halfway through a game, there is about a 95% chance you lose, and a team can come back and win after being down by 2 at anytime about 10-12% of the time. These are just rough estimates, but I think they at least give you a guide on how crazy what the Leafs have done so far is.
They are not even a third of the way through the season, and they have what is probably more than a full season’s worth of 2 goal comebacks.
How is this even possible? Its’ awesome, but it can’t last forever. They would be lucky to have two or three wins in these 11 games. They instead have 18 out of a possible 22 points for an 82% points-percentage in those games.
Include the games they didn’t make a comeback and were just down by two goals, and their point percentage in these games is still just under .700.
That’s the craziest stat in the NHL. Maybe ever.