The 3 Biggest Toronto Maple Leafs Stories Heading into 2nd Half

Dec 23, 2023; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets Forward Cole Sillinger (4) tried to stuff
Dec 23, 2023; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets Forward Cole Sillinger (4) tried to stuff / Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports
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Sustainable Winning

The Toronto Maple Leafs lost four games in a row across late October and early November. They were on the verge of losing their fifth in a row when they went down 4-1 to Tampa in the first period of a game on November 6th.

At this point, Max Domi, Tyler Bertuzzi, John Klingberg and Ryan Reaves looked like somebodie's idea of a prank, and if the team lost their 5th in a row, it would have been intereresting to see what would have happened.

Would new GM Brad Treliving have panicked and fired Keefe? Its possible. Up to that point, it was looking like the last days of the Ron Wilson era.

Who knows what would have actually happened, but it might have been for the best if the Leafs lost that game. Instead, they went on to go pretty much unbeaten for the next month and a half, losing rarely in regulation, and taking almost every game to overtime.

While no one can argue that winning is usually a good thing, if you are in charge of deciding how to use the team's assets, and in charge of using those assets to build a better team, it is important to know if your team is actually good or not.

Winning doesn't necessarily tell you what you need to know, at least not in a pro league with a salary cap and full parity. Mathematically, winning isn't the best indication of future winning. The best indication of future winning is how you win.

Since hockey has nearly random results in one-goal games, it's important to win by multiple goals if you want to keep winning. A bad team could easily go on an 8-0 lucky run over a stretch of one-goal games. That team's GM could then decide that it's worth spending assets to try to win the Stanley Cup when in fact it's a much longer shot that he knows. ,

Famously this happened to Edmonton and Ottawa when they sneaked into the Stanley Cup Finals against everyone's better judgement back in the Dustin Penner/Daniel Alfredson days. It can set back a team for years and you don't wan the Leafs to fall victim to this problem.

The Leafs actual record is miles better than their expected goals ranking or their record in regulation games (two of the best indicators we have for future success). The Leafs are 9th by points percentage, but only 22nd by Expected Goals Percentage. This is very bad.

The worst team in the NHL has 7 regulation wins, the best has 22. The Toronto Maple Leafs have 10. That is horrible. And in a league where teams play for the extra point, not losing in regulation isn't as good as winning (which is a response to a bad point others have made).

Furthermore, the Leafs record when they are losing by multiple goals before the third period is ridiculous. At one point (after 25 games) they had a nearly .700 points percentage in games they were either losing by multiple goals or games in which they blew a multi-goal lead,

You do not need to be any kind of genius to realize that kind of record in those kinds of games will not last for long. The Toronto Maple Leafs currently have a great record, but they shouldn't have it. How it goes from here will be extremely interesting to watch.