The Toronto Maple Leafs Tyler Bertuzzi Has The 'Hockey Gods' Back On His Side

The Toronto Maple Leafs made all of their moves this past offseason with the signing of Tyler Bertuzzi. For the first half of the season, this signing looked quite disappointing. However, with the hockey gods back on his side, Bertuzzi has been one of the most productive goal-scorers in the NHL over the last month.
Washington Capitals v Toronto Maple Leafs
Washington Capitals v Toronto Maple Leafs / Claus Andersen/GettyImages

The Toronto Maple Leafs signed Tyler Bertuzzi to a five-million dollar one-year deal (via CapFriendly) this past offseason. At the time, the 28-year-old winger was coming off of his first playoff run, where he scored 10 points in five games for the Boston Bruins.

For more than the first half of the NHL season, the Bertuzzi signing looked highly disappointing; however, over the Toronto Maple Leafs last 19 games, Bertuzzi leads the team in 5v5 goals and is tied for second in the NHL in goals scored at five-on-five since a completely random date of February 24th (Bertuzzi may have or may not have scored a hat-trick that night against the Avalanche).

Last week, Bertuzzi scored his 17th and 18th goals of the season, leading the Maple Leafs to a victory over the Washington Capitals. Following the win, Bertuzzi was asked about what he had changed in his game to see the increase in production, and he said, "I have no idea. I’ve been doing kind of the same thing and just getting lucky."

Sheldon Keefe was also asked a similar question following the Maple Leaf's 5-1 win over the Capitals, and he said, "Puck luck's a big part of it. Today he gets one from below the goal line. I mean, he couldn't get one from above the goal line wide open with empty nets before". (Note all stats for this article come from before the Montreal game on Saturday).

Maple Leafs Tyler Bertuzzi Has The 'Hockey Gods' Back On His Side

Now the hockey gods have not exactly been kind to Tyler Bertuzzi in his career, before this year, he had only played 60 regular season games in the past two years. But so far this year, the hockey gods have finally graced Bertuzzi with good health. Instead they gifted him some of the worst puck luck of any player in the NHL for more than half of the season.

Unfortunately, no stat tracks a player's puck luck, but two pretty good indicators of good or bad luck are a player's goal-to-expected goals scored differential and their shooting percentage.

Through Bertuzzi's first 55 games, he had a shooting percentage of 6.60%, which is about three percent lower than the league average and was way down from his 13.9% career shooting percentage. Over that same stretch, Bertuzzi accounted for 15.18 of the Maple Leafs expected goals, but he had only put seven pucks in the back of the net before February 24th, creating a -8.18 goals above expected.

Since that February 24th date, Bertuzzi has 12 goals, a 32.43% shooting percentage, and a goals above expected of +5.37. This shooting percentage is 20% higher than the league average.

Combine that with scoring 5.37 more goals than expected, and that tells you Bertuzzi has been the beneficiary of some generous puck luck over the past month.

I doubt Bertuzzi continues to produce goals at this high of a rate, his shooting percentage is due to regress. But he has been getting consistent run on the top line with Auston Matthews over the last month, and since the 24th of February, he is averaging 0.83 points per game compared to the 0.41 points per game he was averaging through his first 55 games with the Maple Leafs.


His numbers are bound to regress at some point here soon; hopefully, when this happens, the 'hockey gods' allow him to regress to the mean rather than plummet back to being the most unlucky player in hockey.