The Toronto Maple Leafs deserve almost all of the criticism directed their way right now.
The Coach, GM, Team Defense, Blue-Line, Special Teams, Team Toughness, Playing Down to Opponents, Mitch Marner, Not Physical Enough, Not Starting On Time, Bad Bottom-Six, and last but not least, Goaltending all deserve your criticism.
But you know who doesn't?
John Tavares and Tyler Bertuzzi. Both are playing well, both are key components to William Nylander's career year, and both should be above criticism because they are playing well and doing it consistently.
John Tavares and Tyler Bertuzzi Criticism Lazy and Way Off Base
Neither player is producing at their expected levels. Bertuzzi has six goals, Tavares is on pace for his lowest scoring season ever.
But we should be beyond judging players solely on their production, because everyone who follows hockey should be aware by now that offensive production is subject to random streaks of luck, mostly due to shooting percetngae. Sometimes a player with a lot of goals is getting lucky, and sometimes the opposite happens.
At the NHL level, players have no control over their shooting percentage. Sometimes pucks go in, and sometimes one player is a victim of a disproportionate amount of goaltending robbery. The same thing applies to racking up assists.
If John Tavares and Tyler Bertuzzi were each scoring as often as they deserve to, not only would they both have more goals, but since they most often play together, they'd each have a bunch more assists.
In 2024 hockey fans and analysts should be savvy enough to know about advanced stats and be able to evaluate players proper even when they are in luck-based slumps.
In order to properly evaluate a player's performance, you must look at how the team does with him on the ice at 5v5, where a player's perforance has the highest impact on the game, and where the vast majority of play takes place.
Both John Tavares and Tyler Bertuzzi are absolutely crushing their 5v5 minutes. They can't help it if the goals aren't going in for them.
With John Tavares on the ice, the Leafs are getting 51% puck-possession, 52% of the shots, 55% of the scoring chances, 57% of the dangerous chances and 55% of the Expected Goals.
With Tyler Bertuzzi on the ice, the Leafs are getting 54% puck possession, 54% of the shots, 59% of the scoring chances, 53% of the dangerous chances, and 58% Expected Goals.
These are elite numbers. and even with the supressed scoring, the Leafs are winning when each player is on the ice. (stats naturalstattrick.com).
Neither player deserves criticism. They are both playing great. John Tavares so called age related decline doesn't exist outside extremel sad, lazy narratives by people who should know better.