The Toronto Maple Leafs are a funny team. In one stretch they lose four straight, in the next they win six straight. Now, after a 7-1 drubbing at the hands of the Dallas Stars they lost a game in OT when they had no business even getting to OT.
I’m confused. And I think Randy Carlyle is too.
Allow me to explain. In two successive games, he has pulled his starting goalie. In two successive games, the Leafs have been out shot. Over the season, the Leafs have given up a league worst 36 shots a game.
But hey, let’s just pull the goalies, because that must be the problem. Of course. I like the way Carlyle thinks. He has an easy scapegoat every single time the Leafs get whipped, and since he has two pawns, he can sacrifice either one at will.
Now, ignoring that, by some stroke of luck, the Leafs find themselves in 4th place in the East with 60 points. By luck, I mean shootout wins. Seriously.
The Leafs have a 9-4 record in shootouts. Those nine wins are tops in the NHL and their 18 points from those wins have given them a strange sense of strength.
I like to imagine the Toronto Maple Leafs players were hoping just to get through the last 2:30 of the OT frame, and get on with their pot-o-gold.
For contrast, the New Jersey Devils, who are in 11th place with 55 points, are 0-8 in shootouts.
I wonder if the Leafs have cornered the market on shootout specialists, which in today’s NHL is pretty important. Unfortunately.
When Dustin Byfuglien snapped home the winning shot, the Leafs still got a point, as they have in 10 other games in which they lost in OT or the shootout. In all, 19 of their 54 games has gone beyond regulation.
Again, for contrast, the Pitssburgh Penguins have only seen 6 of their 52 games go to OT. Which brings me to my point, I guess.
Is this Leafs team successful because it is a good team, or is it because they’ve been lucky? When I look at all the lopsided blowouts, I’m inclined to think the latter.
Phil Kessel kept up his scoring pace by adding a goal and assist. He now has 27 goals and 27 assists on the season. His 54 points finds him tied for 7th overall, he and everyone else trailing Sidney Crosby, who is scorching with 72 points.
A couple of non-scorers got the Leafs back into this one. Tim Gleason and Troy Bodie scored back-to-back in the 2nd, bringing their season totals to 1 and 2 respectively.
Dion Phaneuf broke a 2-0 deficit with his 5th goal of the season with a one-timer on the power play.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have 2 days off until they host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night. Let’s hope for a shootout!