Analysis

Analysis

In-depth analysis of the Toronto Maple Leafs from the Leading Leafs-centric website.

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Nazem Kadri has faced enormous expectations ever since his name was called by then-Maple Leafs General Manager Brian Burke at the 2009 NHL entry draft. Most scouts had Kadri pegged as a prospective 2nd line center. In the eyes of the Toronto media, a player of his skillset and creativity brought about visions of what could possibly become the elusive first line center the Buds have coveted since the departure of Mats Sundin, one that would help resurrect the franchise and ultimately lead the team’s brigade towards success. In a crazed hockey market like Toronto, sky-high expectations are in the nature...

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The opening period of tonight's game was similar to the Leafs' last road outing against Detroit. The difference was that the Hurricanes were able to take advantage of their dominance. They not only out-chanced Toronto 8-3 at ES, they finished the period up 2-0. Toronto had some fightback early in the second, and while Carolina dominated the middle of the period, a late goal gave the Leafs some hope. Until the last five minutes, there wasn't much Toronto push in the final frame, as Carolina added a third goal, and held the chance advantage. Things turned around in the last...

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While the score line was different, there was a lot similar between the Leafs' back-to-back wins against the teams from Southern California. Much like Sunday, the Leafs went out to a 2-0 lead, despite being out-chanced in the first two periods, and, also just like that game, Anaheim responded with a goal late in the second, putting some pressure on Toronto. The Leafs showed some good resilience with another great third period; despite holding a lead, they were even in chances. Of course, the difference was that they turned four of those chances into goals, making the final score pretty lopsided. It...

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With a minute left in the second period against the Los Angeles Kings, a familiar sight for Toronto Maple Leaf fans was taking place as their top line was on the ice and hemmed in their own zone. The Kings would score that shift—albeit a weak goal—against the Leafs three worst possession players at that time in the game (James van Riemsdyk was the highest at 22CF%). On their first shift of the third period, they got scored on again.  For the night, they were the three worst possession forwards on the team. They also combined for two goals for. The trio...

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I didn't have any particular topic I wanted to write about this week, so yesterday morning I asked my twitter followers what they wanted me to write about as far as a statistical analysis of the Leafs is concerned. I'll tackle a few of those questions today. James van Riemsdyk I had a question from @breakaway23 on James van Riemsdyk's career season pace thus far, which has been mostly overlooked. If we project JVR's stats to the 80 games he played last season, we have the following prorated stats: JVR's goal rate has remained very steady the past three seasons, while his assist rate...

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Through the first half of this game, the Leafs looked in great shape, especially given it was the second half of a back-to-back; they had a 2-0 lead, and were roughly even with the defending Stanley Cup champions in chances. They seemed to hit a wall late in the second, though, as the Kings generated six straight chances, including two goals. That continued in the third, with Los Angeles going into the lead, and it seemed like that might be it for Toronto's hopes in this game. However, instead of folding, the Maple Leafs showed some great resilience, as they...

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Over the last couple of seasons, these types of games from the Leafs have been rare; they were the better team and carried the play against Detroit. This season, they've been much more common, a testament to the improved depth and better possession play Toronto has had so far. The Leafs came out strong, having the better of the first half of the opening frame, but Detroit got back into it, levelling the score and finishing the period near even on chances. Unsurprisingly, Toronto had a great second period, as they've done all year, doubling up the Wings in chances,...

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The Toronto Maple Leafs had one of the worst chance performances I've seen, almost as bad as the game that Buffalo played against them in October. Toronto were out-chanced 19-3 at ES after two periods, and had absolutely no business being in the game at all, let alone being down by just one. For that, they had to thank the excellent performance of James Reimer, who held off Detroit's challenges. They also had a strong penalty killing game, which has become a regular occurrence. The third period was better, and Toronto managed to get level through Kessel, but even then...

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If you've been following my scoring chance wrap-ups, there's a lot familiar in the story of tonight's game. The Leafs managed to take the lead in the first period, despite being clearly out-chanced, then had a strong second period, in which they consolidated their lead. That was followed by a third period where Calgary again dictated play, and while they got one goal back, Jonathan Bernier managed to keep the Leafs ahead. Through the first two periods, the chances were fairly close, Calgary having a slim lead. Toronto's third period defence wasn't that bad, as they held Calgary to just two...

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There is a well-known saying among hockey executives that goes, “Sometimes the best moves are the ones you don’t make.” When Brendan Shanahan was hired as President of the Maple Leafs, the venom in the room at his press conference was evident. Fans, media and bloggers wanted blood as the 2013-14 campaign came to a close. The core had failed in spectacular fashion for a third year in a row, they were full of big money players who have warts to their games, had little cap space, and they were not even in the conversation to acquire any of the big-name centers available....

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In the first half, this was a similar game to last Saturday's effort against Washington: The Leafs were opportunistic, opening up a 4-0 lead despite trailing in ES Chances. After they got that lead, Vancouver took over the game, as after the fourth Leaf goal, Vancouver out-chanced Toronto 19-6. Most of this was on the power-play, as the Leafs spent almost ten minutes of the game short-handed, and despite the chances the Canucks couldn't get closer than two goals. Vancouver dominated the second period, despite the fact the Leafs managed two goals in the frame. The third, when Vancouver managed to...

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Toronto had a bad start against a short-handed Devils team, falling behind 8-4 in ES Chances, and 1-0 on the scoreboard. However, they seemed to recover after that, finishing the first period level in ES chances, and twice managed to tie the game up in the second. They struggled in the third, though, with the Devils managing to defend well, and opening up a three goal lead. Toronto had one strong ES shift in the third, but other than that generated little in their attempt to chase down the lead. The ES numbers ended up close, but the Leafs losing...

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The Leafs started December with another strong performance, which was similar to their game against the Capitals. The first period was even in chances at ES, but the Leafs took the lead with a pair of goals, including a very early one from the on-fire Tyler Bozak. A good second period, which has become a consistent thing for the Leafs, saw them extend the lead to 4-1, and they held on in the third for the win. The game was pretty much even at ES, but the Leafs were vastly superior on special teams, really limiting the Stars power-play, despite Dallas...

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There isn't an elephant in the room when it comes to the Leafs defense, but the question of what to do is bubbling below the surface. If you include Stuart Percy in the starting six for next season, the Leafs already have their top-6 group under contract: Dion Phaneuf, Jake Gardiner, Morgan Rielly, Roman Polak, Stephane Robidas and Percy are all signed going into the 2015-2016 season. The person missing from that group signed next season? Cody Franson, who you can make a pretty strong argument for being the Leafs strongest defenseman this year. He is a free agent. Still only 28,...

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The Maple Leafs were opportunistic early against the Capitals. Despite getting outchanced in the first period, they scored two goals from the point to chase Justin Peters, before scoring a third early in the second against Braden Holtby. The Leafs had a good second period, beating out the Caps in chances, which is consistent with their performances all year. While Washington had a couple of solid stretches in the third period, the game was pretty much decided by that point. That first period deficit in chances ended up being the only period that counted as close, so the Leafs lost that category...

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In the summer, I wrote about Bozak's statistically-improved 2013-14 season. In that post, I observed that Bozak had significantly improved his 5v5 offensive production last season, and in particular his assist rates, while noting that his power play production had been relatively unchanged. Here is my concluding paragraph from that post: It is difficult to know from the statistics whether Bozak took a step forward in his development or changed his style of play last season to become a more important member of his line, but he appears to have been. Of course, one season does not make a trend so it will be...

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Toronto finished its season series with Pittsburgh, ending up clearly second-best in chances in all three games. In this one, though, they managed to earn a point after they scored three times in the second, as they responded well after falling behind 2-0. While the Leafs had the better of the scoring in the second, Pittsburgh still had more of the chances. The Leafs then played a tight third period, limiting Pittsburgh's chances and holding on to earn a point. The Leafs' ES Close numbers were really poor, as some of their better play came when they were down two in...

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It feels like it's still early in the season, but we've passed the 25% point with the Leafs having played 21 of their 82 games. I've been tracking scoring chance numbers for a couple of seasons, (see a discussion of my methodology at the top of my first post at MLHS), and here I'll give a little look at how the season's gone thus far for the Leafs in my tracking. It's worth noting that 21 games is still a relatively small sample, and when looking at even strength close chances -- which tend to be the most reflective of...

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The Toronto Maple Leafs have officially played a quarter of their season, and we are still no closer to figuring out where this team will finish once 82 games is up. Before the start of the season, we posted our annual season predictions on MLHS and I wrote, in part: “I can make a case for this team to finish in the top 5 in the East, or the bottom five in the East, and I think both would be reasonably valid. Neither would surprise me. They have great goaltending, a good power play, some depth scoring, and some nice defensemen....

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The Maple Leafs just surpassed the quarter pole of their schedule with a win over the Detroit Red Wings in game #21 of the 2014-15 season. Last week I looked at how individual players are performing. This week, let's take a look at how the team is performing as a whole. It has been a bit of a roller-coaster season to say the least, especially the past 8-10 days. A mediocre start --  2-3-1 in their first 6 games -- turned for the better in a big way as the Leafs went 7-2-1 in their following 10 games. Then, everything went haywire: They lost their next three games, two...