Analysis

Analysis

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

1

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...

468

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....

15

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...

1

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...

0

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...

308

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,...

610

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...

75

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...

0

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...

13

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...

105

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....

16

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...

0

The Maple Leafs played a strong, low-chance game against a Red Wings team that dominated them in chances in two previous meetings. Toronto had more chances at ES than the Wings in the first and third periods, including the winning goal from Peter Holland, and for a second straight game, the Leafs did a good job defending their third period lead at even strength. Detroit did have the better of the game in the second period, but Toronto was able to limit them to one goal, and got out of the period tied. Pretty much an even game at ES, as there...

0

If the last eight days have taught us anything, it's that this is an inconsistent Leafs team. After a terrible performance against Nashville, they came back with a strong showing against the Lightning. Toronto dominated the first period, and were unfortunate to go into the intermission level after a shorthanded goal against. While the second was more even in chances, the Leafs managed to pull away thanks to JVR and a bad Tampa giveaway, and they held on to the lead in the third. Toronto's even strength defensive play in the final period was strong, but the Lightning did put...

3

One of the ugliest displays I've seen from a Leaf team in a long time unfolded on Tuesday, as they were routed 9-2 by Nashville. The Predators dominated the first period, including a goal in the first two minutes. While the Leafs were able to limit the damage in the second, a late Nashville goal, followed up by two more in the first 90 seconds of the third, triggered a complete and utter collapse, as Nashville extended the lead to 8-0 with fifteen minutes still to play. It was one of those nights were the Leafs were not only outchanced, but...

218

This past weekend, Pat Burns was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame despite no longer being with us. It served as a stark reminder that we should celebrate the hockey world's great individuals while they are still here. This coincides with the unfortunate announcement last week that Bryan Murray’s cancer has spread to his liver and lungs. He’s in stage 4, and there is no stage 5. In light of these events, I want to take a few minutes to highlight a great and successful hockey mind before it is too late. Many people often talk about the old guard of hockey GMs...

58

The Maple Leafs are now 18 games into the 2014-15 season, a decent enough sample size to take an early advanced stat look at the Leafs performance so far. In the off season, the Leafs overhauled much of their front office and jumped on the hockey analytics bandwagon in a big way, although they left the general manager and head coach in place. Player wise, the majority of the third and fourth lines also changed along with a pair of their defensemen (Polak, Robidas). The question is: Has anything changed in terms of playing style, tactics, or results? This week I will take...

6

The last time these teams met, it was as one-sided an NHL game as I've seen. It looked like there might be a similar result this time out; through 15 minutes the Leafs were dominant in chances, and it just seemed like a matter of time before they would break the Sabres down. However, after the penalty to David Clarkson, Buffalo scored two goals before the end of the period. While Toronto again had the better of the play in the second, even a late pair of goals couldn't help them get closer than two. Two goals for the Sabres...

266

The Leafs had twelve minutes of powerplay time, but weren't able to get a goal out of any of it against the Penguins. Pittsburgh dominated the Leafs at even strength all night, but Bernier stood strong, and Toronto was in it right until the end. So it ended up as one of those odd sorts of games where the Leafs probably deserved to lose by more, but also will be ruing their missed chances. In particular, Toronto was outchanced 5-1 at ES after Franson's goal, showing how poor their chase was when they didn't have the extra man. This was...

11

After losing out in their last game against Boston, Toronto came out strong last night, dominating the first ten minutes and getting a goal for their work. The game was even in chances after the first period, as Boston did well in the second half of the frame, although the Bruins still trailed. However, the Leafs broke it open in the first half of the second period, dominating play and scoring four goals in the ten minute stretch. They ended up taking the period 9-4 in ES chances. While Boston pulled the chance gap back in the third, it didn't...