Another game, another start in which the Leafs had the game dictated to them before conceding the opening goal.
For perspective, 24 out of 30 teams have 14 wins or more when they score first.
The Leafs have scored first 14 times. Total.
The numbers are pretty remarkable:
|Team||Wins Score 1st||Loss Score 1st||OT Loss Score 1st||Total Times Scoring First|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||20||4||0||24|
|Detroit Red Wings||20||4||5||29|
|Los Angeles Kings||19||5||2||26|
|San Jose Sharks||18||2||0||20|
|New York Rangers||17||3||2||22|
|St. Louis Blues||16||6||3||25|
|New York Islanders||15||3||2||20|
|New Jersey Devils||15||0||3||18|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||14||6||1||21|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||9||3||2||14|
There’s a few theories we can spit ball and mull over here:
– The team is often unprepared.
– It’s simply quite a poor team, one that Babcock’s been performing yeoman’s work with to help them adjust in-game and between periods in order to stay competitive most nights. Last night, the Leafs went from a 20-5 shot attempt deficit half way through the first to taking over the game by the end of the second, owning 46 of the following 61 shot attempts after the dismal start.
– The league is as tight as ever, scoring is down, games rarely get out of hand anymore – parity plus score effects – and therefore getting scored on first 68% of the time is tantamount to simply being a very poor team. The fact that the Leafs have come back to win eight times (and collect points in 13) of the 30 occasions they’ve trailed seems reasonably impressive — their win percentage when trailing first stands 12th in the NHL. But celebrating the Leafs overcoming a deficit to win 27% of the time and collect at least a point 43% of the time is basically celebrating the relative parity of the League and virtues of the three-point era – not some testament to the Leafs’ being better than most, through coaching or otherwise, at refusing to go away in games.
– Jonathan Bernier’s bizarre run of letting in the first shot has inflated the numbers to some extent and the problem isn’t as bad as it seems. This latter theory perhaps closes the sizable gap between the Leafs and other bad teams in this category, but it doesn’t fully explain the team’s flaw in this area.
Some food for thought, anyway.
Quick notes on last night’s dramatic final-seconds win:
– Unexpected scoring arrival from a couple of blueliners – ones not named Morgan Rielly — tonight, although the source wasn’t Gardiner or Phaneuf. Who bet on Matt Hunwick’s first goal in 44 games as a Leaf — and his first goal in 57 games total including last season (playoffs + regular season) – and Roman Polak’s first goal in 63 games coming on the same night? Blue moons are cool, but the Leafs are going to need the odd goal from the likes of Phaneuf and Gardiner – one goal in their last 26 and 29 respectively – as they look to offset the loss of their leading scorer up front. They particularly need those two to provide more of a shot threat on the powerplay, which is now 0 for its last 17 and appears sorely lacking in triggermen.
– Matthias has let so many good chances go begging through failing hands in tight that it makes you wonder if the laws of the percentages are ever going to take hold in this case, but he’s at least off the schneid with the goal in Boston, and he’s now up to 14 shots on goal in his four games since the move onto the Bozak line. Matthias really has done a fine job filling in at least in terms of providing the line with a strong-skating big body who crash and bangs. The Leafs had 21 even-strength shot attempts with Matthias on the ice, the most of any Leaf last night. He also led the team in hits with five.
– Interesting to hear Babcock – unprompted — credit the Phaneuf fight for helping wake the team up. The fight came amid a miserable spell between 3:54 and 11:52 of the first period in which the Leafs didn’t even attempt a shot on goal. That said, it still took over three minutes for the team to attempt their next shot after the Phaneuf fight, as Lupul followed it up with a hooking penalty 40 seconds later.
– Joffrey Lupul showed some signs in the Boston game that he was coming back to life from his lengthy dormant spell, and he got a badly needed breakthrough in delayed penalty situation after a good foray in the offensive zone by Dion Phaneuf generated a rebound for him to finish off. Lupul’s early start goal scoring wise was a little understated – with 10 in 39, he’s actually on a 20-goal pace if he managed to play the remaining 38 games on the schedule. What’s astounding is that he has just three assists to his name through half a season. He’s often been a roughly 1:1 player in his goals:assists ratio and is playing down the lineup, but surely that can’t last?
Shot Location Chart
Scoring Chances Chart
Shot Attempts Chart
Leafs Player Stats — Toronto 3 vs. Philadelphia 2
|PLAYER||G||A||P||+/-||PIM||S||HITS||BKS||FO%||PP TOI||SH TOI||TOI|
Mike Babcock Post Game
Game in 10