The Toronto Maple Leafs have supposedly been on the verge of a major trade all week, but like their victory like last night, something that should be fun is decidedly lame.
We've seen a regular season version of the Toronto Maple Leafs that competed for the President's Trophy and entered the playoffs as a Cup favorite, and one of the deepest teams in hockey. Therefore, it's hard for me to get excited about regular season results that do not indicate future success.
The Leafs won four of their last five, but there is some MAJOR luck involved in those games.
They beat a struggling Seattle team that was extremely short-handed. They beat the Jets twice, once on an Ilya Samsonov shutout in a game the team had no business winning. In both Jets games, the Jets were the superior team, but the Leafs won.
Then they lost to the Islanders, being outscored 3-0 at 5v5, before beating a Stars team who absolutely destroyed them at even-strength.
In both of their last two games, their goalie was inconsistent bordering on terrible.
Maple Leafs Rumours Should At Least Be Fun + a Dubious Victory + Goalie Trouble
I'm not here to whine - I want the Leafs to win and I love these results. But if we want to know how our team will do in the future and to what extent they should add at the deadline, we have to evaluate them beyond the win and loss column.
To do that we have to realize that this team's core is so good and so elite that they will win a lot of games they don't deserve to. Great teams do that, but great managers also make sure those players are surrounded with enough good players that it's not necessary for it to happen in order to win games.
That isn't happening right now. Outside of the Leafs best players and Jake McCabe, everyone on the team more or less sucks. In 5 of the last 8 games, the Leafs were the losing team by Expected Goals, meaning they had to get lucky to win 5 of those games.
The worst part is that the rumours - if they come true - won't even help. The Leafs are supposedly on the verge of trading for Chris Tanev, but he's not a goalie and he's not a puck-moving defenseman. He's not a third line centre, or a scoring left winger. (stats naturalstattrick.com).
A depth defenseman is literally the only thing the Leafs have a lot of, since Brodie, Giordano, Liljegren and Benoit should never be playing above the third pairing. In fact, on an elite team, Rielly would probably be the second best defenseman and McCabe no higher than the fourth.
So adding a defenseman who is only going to be - at best - the third best on the team isn't really going to do anything. The Leafs need to aim higher. They need to play better too, and it starts with getting a goalie they can trust.
Last night's first period was unacceptable, and should probably have prevented them from winning the game. It's nice that their best players scored a bunch, but that's not a sustainable path to victory.