The Toronto Maple Leafs were upset and unlucky in the playoffs five years in a row.
This included the Toronto Maple Leafs going 0-11 in elimination games, something you couldn’t pull off if you were trying to lose on purpose. The odds of that happening were less than 1% and the current state of the Leafs is a direct result of not having the courage to stick with what is working despite getting randomly bad results.
Except, ummm, the Leafs are currently crushing it. They are winning virtually every game they play and are one, if not the very hottest team in the NHL right now.
They are rocketing up the standings despite almost never playing a full 60 minutes of quality hockey, despite their horrendous blue-line (which is also horrendous when healthy, but which is currently very injured). They have an injured starting goalie, their breakout defenseman is injured, and their summer additions have been mostly crappola.
Their record in games when they either blow or comeback from a two-goal lead is downright insane.
And yet, they win and win and win. Sure, they have just 7 regulation wins (half their total) and sure, that ranks them close to last in the. league, and of course that is a major indicator that their record is very luck-based, but what can you do? (stats naturalstattrick.com).
For years they played great, had a top team, and choked when it counted.
Now their team is the worst its been for at least five years, and they’re doing as good, or better than ever. Will it last? Statistically, it is not likely.
But it’s also not impossible.
Toronto Maple Leafs: More Fun With the NHL Standings
Prior to the start of last night’s games, the Toronto Maple Leafs sit just 5 points out of the division lead, and have a game in hand. That’s 2.5 games back of the Bruins with way more than half a season to go.
The Leafs are only one point back of Florida, and have two games in hand, so I think that actually makes them a half-game ahead if we’re doing baseball-style standings (which are the best).
The Wings, Lightning, Florida and Bruins are not powerhouse teams. The Leafs, even in their weakened state, are just as good, if not better than all of them. If the Leafs can cobble together a halfway decent blue-line before the trade deadline, they might avoid the regression their current statistics demand.
Even if they don’t, having Matthews, Marner, Tavares and Nylander means that if you get good to great goaltending, you can win the Cup no matter what blue-line you have. See the Pittsburgh Penguins last Stanley Cup for more details.
Speaking of the Penguins, they are currently out of the playoffs but unlikely to miss them. In fact, New Jersey, Pittsburgh, Tampa and Carolina are all currently out of a playoff spot.
None of those teams should be missing the playoffs, so that’s bad luck for Detroit, Philly, Washington and one other team. Although, maybe not Philly they do have strong underlying numbers. Who’d have thought?
Hopefully the Toronto Maple Leafs can maintain their hold on a playoff spot, but unless they improve some of the many problems they current face, they will eventually have to deal with a lot of regression. That means they will likely pay for their early season lucky results eventually.
The Leafs are 5th in the NHL by points-percentage, unfortunately they are 23rd by expected goals percentage. The latter is far more predictive of the future than the former.
Hold onto your butts.