One of the Hot Stove readers asked for an update on how the Leafs have fared without Mike Van Ryn. And the results are actually quite surprising.
(Statistics provided courtesy of NHL.com)
Currently, the Leafs sit at 9-9-6, after last nightâ€™s win in LA.
Prior to the 6-3 win against Montreal, in which Van Ryn was hurt, the Leafs had a 5-5-4 record with 41 goals for and 51 goals against. Which works out to 2.93 GF per game, and 3.64 GA per game.
Including that win over Montreal, the Leafs have gone 4-4-2 in his absence, with 33 goals for and 32 goals against. Which equates to per-game averages of 3.3 GF, and 3.2 GA.
Note: I have included the Montreal game in the stats for games he has missed, as his injury occurred early in the first period of that game.
Remarkably, the Leafs have actually managed to reduce the number of goals against (3.64 to 3.2) despite missing a player who is arguably their top defender, this year. Is that a knock on Van Ryn? No, not at all.
Part of it is that the team was still rounding into form when he went down, and their play was bound to improve in many areas as the players got more comfortable with each other, and Ron Wilsonâ€™s system. But another part of it is the Injury Effect:
Often, what happens in the case of a major injury is other players on the team are forced to step up their games, in order to compensate for that playerâ€™s absence. We see this in pro sports all the time; when a key player goes down, his teammates will either sink or swim in his absence â€¦ and the Leafs have been swimming quite strongly, from the look of it.
Hereâ€™s hoping Van Rynâ€™s teammatesâ€™ inspired play keeps up once he returns (Iâ€™ve heard heâ€™ll be back in the next week or two).