The Toronto Maple Leafs have gone through a rollercoaster almost halfway into the 2011-12 season. Though December’s tough scheduled slowed them some, the team is still on pace for 95 points and a playoff berth for the first time since before the NHL lockout. The question then becomes whether the Leafs’ play is sustainable, with the best avenue to find out being a statistical overview. Today we’re going to dig into some of the good, bad and ugly aspects statistically to the Leafs thus far. Unless otherwise stated, all stats are at even strength.
Scoring has not been a problem for the Leafs at all this season, especially for top line players Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul. They currently sit 7th in league goals per game with 3.06. This is no doubt due to their increased powerplay acumen, amassing an impressive 21% efficiency with the man advantage, 4th best in the league. For relative Corsi, a stat which tracks shots directed at the net minus shots directed towards your own goal when a player is both on and off ice, many players are positive. The highest Corsi REL stats on the team are Dion Phaneuf (14.0), Mike Brown (13.5) and Mikhail Grabovski (10.8). For contrast, the lowest among players with at least 10 games played are Mike Komisarek (-17.7), Luke Schenn (-15.1) and Joey Crabb (-9.1). Generally though, most players are within an acceptable range for Corsi.
There are also several players who have good team shooting percentages when they’re on the ice. The top players (among those having played at least 10 games) are Mike Komisarek (13.33%), Joey Crabb (11.34%) and Clarke MacArthur (11.25%). The lowest are Jay Rosehill (0.00%), Philippe Dupuis (0.00%) and Mike Brown (4.11%). Again, most players are within an acceptable range of around 7-10% and only a few notable exceptions are below this standard. Team save percentage when each player is on the ice are also quite good for most, with the highest being Philippe Dupuis (.966), Jay Rosehill (.947) and Matt Frattin (.945). The lowest are Matthew Lombardi (.847), Joey Crabb (.892) and Clarke MacArthur (.898). Only four players who have played at least 10 games are below a .901 team save percentage, so again the consistency is impressive.
Toronto needs to give a few less games to players like Rosehill and Dupuis, if only because there has been zero offense garnered when they’re on the ice. Both players’ team shooting percentage of 0% speaks volumes on their overall ability to pass, make plays and ultimately shoot the puck themselves. A player like Nazem Kadri has come in, played only five games and has a goals per game of 0.40 and a team shooting percentage of 17.24%. It’s a small sample size to be sure, but even in such a small sample, Kadri has done far more offensively.
Another worrying aspect to some Leafs thus far is a propensity for head coach Ron Wilson to shelter some players generally viewed as defensively responsible. This is no more evident than in Keith Aulie, who starts a staggering 55.3% of his shifts in the offensive zone, which is incredibly high for a defensive defenseman. For contrast, the other two defensive defensemen on the Leafs, Mike Komisarek and Luke Schenn, have far lower Ozone% of 43.8% and 47.3% respectively. This simple stat speaks volumes on Aulie’s current struggles in his own end in this young season. Personally, I wouldn’t at all mind Aulie getting some bigger minutes in the AHL to build up some of the swagger he had last season with the Leafs. He’s lacking confidence and by extension the coaching staff is losing confidence in him.
Finally, taking penalties are a huge problem for many players on the team. If we take the number of individual penalties taken (rather than minutes taken) and subtract penalties drawn from that number, we can get a good view of who’s struggling. The highest remaining penalties after subtraction are Keith Aulie (2.8 per 60 minutes), Mike Komisarek (1.2) and Tyler Bozak (0.7). Keith Aulie and Matthew Lombardi are the only two players on the roster that have not drawn any penalties so far this year. The highest number of individual penalties per 60 on the team is Darryl Boyce after only 2 games, at 3.8. However, he draws the exact same number, so his ratio is 1:1. Only 6 regulars have drawn more penalties than they’ve taken. These players (shown as PTAKE/60:PDRAW/60) are Mike Brown (1.2:1.6), Clark MacArthur (1.0:1.4), Tim Connolly (0.6:0.8), Dave Steckel (0.6:0.8), Mikhail Grabovski (0.5:1.1) and Joey Crabb (0.5:1.4).
Only one stat can truly go here and I’m sure everyone knows what I’m going to say. The penalty killing on Toronto is atrocious. Their non-aggressive style has led them to 30th place in the league for PK% at a baffling 73.5%. There’s really nothing to be said about their penalty kill that hasn’t been beaten to death already. Instead, I’ll leave you with this table of the worst penalty kills in the NHL as of 1963 (courtesy Arctic Ice Hockey) and the worst percentages below the league average, with Toronto’s current season in a special place on top:
|Toronto Maple Leafs||2011-12||73.5|
|Los Angeles Kings||1979-80||67.7|
|Los Angeles Kings||1982-83||68.24|
|Los Angeles Kings||1981-82||71.29|
|Los Angeles Kings||1985-86||71.7|
*From 1963 to 2011
|Team||Season||Percentage below league average|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||2011-12||8.94|
|Los Angeles Kings||1979-80||13.4|
|Los Angeles Kings||1982-83||11.5|
|Minnesota North Stars||1976-77||9.0|
*From 1963 to 2011
Despite all of that, the 2011-12 season has been surprisingly positive for a fanbase desperately in need of some positivity. The winds of change are present and it’s not hard to see this team shaping into a formidable roster in a couple years. But please, let’s start with a playoff berth this season first.