To quote the legendary Jim Mora, â€œYou kidding me?Â Playoffs?Â I just hope we win another game!â€Â As the Leafs struggle to find ongoing consistency in the goal scoring department I thought I would have a look at their scoring output compared to the post-lockout playoff teams to see if there is any hope at actually making the big dance at seasonâ€™s end.Â First, some key Leafs stats through 22 games this year:
|8-11-3||2.18||2.68||0.89||15.2 (22nd)||73.1 (29th)|
Next I researched the playoff teams in both the Eastern and Western Conference since the 2005/06 season to see if any team qualified with offensive statistics as dreadful as the Leafs 2010/11 version, and if so, how.Â Since 2005/06 there hasnâ€™t been a team really even close to the 2.18 goals per game mark and the closest team I could find was the Boston Bruins in 2009/10.Â The Boston Bruins were the lowest scoring team for that season among playoff qualifiers so I used them for comparison sake.
Well it goes without saying that if you arenâ€™t going to score may goals you had better be equally stingy in giving up goals, I think that description fits the 2009/10 Boston Bruins to a tee.Â They had extremely strong goaltending (Tuuka Rask) as well as solid penalty killing (86.4%) and much better five-on-five play than the current Leafs team.
The Bruins wouldnâ€™t have qualified for the playoffs had they played in the Western Conference and their lack of scoring hurt them pretty much all season, yet at the current Leafs pace would still outscore the 2010/11 Leafs by 17 goals.Â One has to point out that the Leafs are also on pace to give up about 29 more goals than the 2009/10 Bruins.Â Not to mention the Bruins penalty killing from a year ago makes the Leafs appear to be a Pee-wee hockey club with their paltry 73.1% success (or failure) rate.
To have any hope at making the playoff this year not only do the Leafs obviously need to increase their scoring rate to even be near the bottom rung of past playoff qualifiers (Boston â€“ 2.39) they also need to significantly decrease their goals allowed rate.Â
In fact, here are the standings since 1998/99 for teams with goals/game rates of 2.18 or worse:
|01/02 Tampa Bay||2.17||2.67||69|
|98/99 Tampa Bay||2.18||3.56||47|
Quite the illustrious group of teams the Leafs are chasing, with the top team only mustering 76 total points.Â If the Leafs do not pick up their offensive output the chances of finishing ahead of Carolina on this list are slim, let alone a legitimate shot at making the playoffs.
I am not saying it canâ€™t happen but barring some serious luck, scoring spree (or unbelievably hot goaltending), some talented midseason additions or a huge special teams boost (both PP and PK) it looks like the Leafs are destined to be on the outside looking in when the playoffs begin in April, again.