Breaking Down the Toronto Maple Leafs Recent Play By the Numbers
The Toronto Maple Leafs rapid ascension up the Eastern Conference standings came to a screeching halt last night, as the Carolina Hurricanes put an end to the Maple Leafs six-game win streak with a 4-1 victory in Raleigh.
Although the loss had some painful moments where the Leafs looked out of sorts, it does not overshadow what has been a phenomenal stretch of play, where the team has gone 10-2-1 in their last 13 games.
While some fans are still trying to come to grips with this recent win streak, let’s take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly of this run, as we analyze it by the numbers.
Dec 16, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs left wing Joffrey Lupul (19) celebrates his goal with teammates against the Anaheim Ducks at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Having scored three or more goals in 22 of their 32 games this year, the Toronto Maple Leafs are the highest scoring team in the NHL on a per game basis, averaging 3.4 goals per game.
During this 13-game run, the Leaf have scored three or more goals 11 times.
Getting off to a fast start has been key to the Maple Leafs’ success this year, as the team is a perfect 14-0 when they score first.
While scoring first has been a great omen for the Leafs, so has holding the lead after 40 minutes of play. When leading after two periods, the Leafs are 13-0.
Before last night’s abysmal performance, the Maple Leafs scored 10 power play goals during their recent six-game win streak, posting a very efficient mark of 23.25%. All together, the Leafs have converted on 10 of their 43 power play opportunities, prior to going 0-for-3 last night.
On the year, the Leafs rank sixth in the NHL for power play goals scored, scoring 24 goals on 117 chances. St. Louis ranks first with 29 power play goals on 114 chances.
The only knock on the Leafs’ power play is the five short-handed goals they have allowed this season. That ties them with Pittsburgh and Edmonton for the most short-handed goals allowed.
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During this 13-game stretch the Maple Leafs have killed off 35 of their last 42 penalties, good for 83.33%. That is right on par with their season average of 83.5%. Needless to say, special teams has been a strength for the Leafs this season.
Before going 7-for-20 in the face-off circle last night, Tyler Bozak has easily been one of the leagues best centre’s in the face-off circle. During this recent 12-game stretch, Bozak has posted a fantastic 53.78%. When you compare that to the rest of the team and their sub par 44.26%, there is no denying how much the Leafs rely on Bozak in the face-off circle.
If Nazem Kadri or Peter Holland do not improve in the face-off department, the Leafs might think about exploring the possibility of a trade for a face-off specialist like Boyd Gordon or Antoine Vermette.
One of the most revealing statistics is the Leafs shooting percentage. To put it bluntly, their shooting percentage success rate has been ridiculously good.
Dec 2, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk (21) celebrates a goal by forward Tyler Bozak (not pictured) in front of Dallas Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen (32) during the first period at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
We did see a bit of regression last night against Carolina, but more could be on the way.
Last year, the Anaheim Ducks led the NHL with a 10.24 shooting percentage, while the Maple Leafs finished the season with a 9.69 shooting percentage. Take it a step further and look at the average team shooting percentage leader over the past five-seasons and you’ll notice that the leading team tends to hover around the mid 10 percent range.
I’m not saying the Leafs will fall off a cliff and go into a scoring drought, but to expect this record pace to sustain is unrealistic. To put it in perspective, the Leafs are scoring on about one of every seven-to-eight shots they take. That will more than likely regress to one of every nine-to-ten shots they take in the coming weeks. Not a substantial difference, but one worth mentioning.
The Maple Leafs have been outshot in nine of their last 13 games, giving up 30 or more shots eight times, and 40 or more shots three times.
Needless to say, the Leafs well documented problem of being outshot continues on this season. The only difference now is the play of their goaltenders as both Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer have stood on their heads at times.
Sans last night’s .917 save percentage, the combined save percentage of Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer is .929 over their recent 12-game run.
Bernier has posted a very impressive .926 save percentage in his past 10 games, while Reimer has been more than serviceable, posting a .947 save percentage in two games. Reimer’s numbers can be a bit misleading though, as his phenomenal 41-save performance in Detroit overshadows his shaky performance against Los Angeles last Sunday.
Either way, the Leafs goaltending has been top-notch recently, as Jonathan Bernier continues to play well in a contract year.
Dec 14, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer (34) reacts after a win over the Los Angeles Kings at the Air Canada Centre. Toronto defeated Los Angeles 4-3 in an overtime shot out. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
As mentioned many times above, the goaltending has been great during this stretch, but to hammer home the point even more, the Maple Leafs have allowed three or more goals five times during this 13 games stretch.
The interesting part about this stat is that when the Leafs lose, they lose big. Out of their 10 regulation losses this season, six of them have been by three or more goals.
The Leafs have 168 takeaways during this 13-game stretch. The growing number of takeaways has been something the Leafs have improved upon throughout this season, as Tyler Bozak (40) and Peter Holland (33) rank second and third in the NHL for takeaways.
The greatest area of improvement for the Maple Leafs this season, is definitely their 5-on-5 play. The Leafs have outscored their opponents 34-21 recently, and have improved their 5-on-5 goals for/goals against ratio immensely, posting a 1.15 ratio.
In comparison to last years 0.92 ratio, the Leafs improvement in 5-on-5 play is a big reason why their overall play has improved this season.
What do you think Leafs’ fans? Can the team sustain this recent run of success? Or is it just a mirage like last years run before the Olympic break? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.