Comparing The Toronto Maple Leafs to the Conference Finalists

Comparing The Toronto Maple Leafs To The Eastern & Western Conference Finalists
Comparing The Toronto Maple Leafs To The Eastern & Western Conference Finalists / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages
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Comparing The Toronto Maple Leafs To The Conference Finalists

Let's address the obvious: none of these four conference finalists encountered a red-hot Jeremy Swayman.

Yes, the Panthers had to overcome the Bruins, but Swayman was less influential against the Panthers than he was in the first round.

Against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Swayman made 7.89 saves above expected in his six starts compared to the 2.89 goals he saved above expected in the six-game series against the Panthers.

The easy thing to do here is to chalk up the series' loss as bad luck because they ran into a hot goaltender. Still, it isn't fair to do that, as the Oilers have made it to the conference finals with the goalie who has allowed the most goals above expected of any goalie who has made it past the first round.

The Maple Leafs' powerplay, which only converted 4.8% of its opportunities with an extra skater, was a glaring issue in the playoffs.

This is particularly noteworthy, considering the Maple Leafs had the seventh-best powerplay percentage throughout the regular season. Their 1/21 powerplay performance is another aspect that some might attribute to bad luck, but I am not inclined to do so.

If you look at the powerplays of the Panthers, Rangers, Oilers, and Stars throughout the playoffs, they have all been scoring. In addition, they have all been creating chances at an absurd rating, keeping extended pressure on the penalty killers.

All four of these teams lead all playoff teams in expected goals, scoring chances and high-danger chances per 60 minutes while on the powerplay. If you look at the Leafs, they needed to be creating chances. The Rangers ranked fourth among the four conference finals teams in all the stats above, and the Maple Leafs averaged about 2.5 expected goals, four scoring chances, and six high-danger chances, less than the Rangers per 60 minutes on the powerplay.

Even when they don't score, these teams consistently pressure the other team and threaten with good scoring chances. Despite dealing with injuries to key players on their powerplay, the Leafs lack of ability to create scoring chances was unacceptable for a team with Stanley Cup aspirations.

To win the cup, you have to be able to take advantage of these powerplay situations.