Thursday FTB: how the Leafs are trending heading into the Winter Break

Thursday FTB: how the Leafs are trending heading into the Winter Break

We all know that the regular season is about positioning yourself for the playoffs. It decides the matchups and tells the teams if they are good or bad and by how much.

After 33 games this season for the Leafs, we can say that the Leafs are very good. Especially defensively, where they rank in the top 10 for shots against and goals conceded and second only to the Bruins for goals conceded. Offensively they were a lot more composed (roughly upper mid-league in shots and goals), but they’re improving.

William Nylander leads the Leafs with 19 goals in 33 games while Matthews is being caught with 18, both have 45-plus paces. And after a sluggish start to the season for the bottom six, new lines, new faces and a mess, the Leafs are heading in the right direction.

And those improvements at depth show in the numbers. In the team’s first 20 games without the Big Four forwards on the ice, the Leafs’ supporting lineup was 49% shots, 47% expected goals, and 44% goals on the ice. In the last 20 games they have had a 50% shooting rate, 51% goals and goals expected. In their last 10, it’s 53% shots, 74% goals, and 54% goals expected. A big improvement for a team whose salary cap is taking an awful low. About NST

Kerfoot-Kampf-Engvall’s third line has been particularly good lately, easily outperforming the other team’s third line. The fourth row has seen a jump with Pontus Holmberg jumping onto the scene, as well as a new face in Dryden Hunt.

All of this is to say that the Leafs are very good and just getting better. And I hope that doesn’t happen, but their game is starting to undermine the team’s spectacular goalkeeping performance this season. Samsonov and Murray were excellent but as you always expect with goalkeepers it might not last long. If not, as we saw last January, the skaters are in a good position to make amends.

It’s a team game, after all, and the Leafs as a whole are designed to outperform the sum of their parts. Whatever happens in the new year, the Leafs will be prepared.

Various leaves and branches

Mikhail Sergachev fined for slashing Michael Bunting | by: Katja

Following Team Canada’s investigation into allegations of sexual assault | by: Katja

Leafs Notebook: Why Morgan Rielly remains vital to the team’s cup chances | by: MLHS

‘He knows nothing is given’: Meet Toronto Maple Leafs’ Fraser Minten | by: Daily Faceoff

Why the Maple Leafs need to be more aggressive than ever at the close | from: Sportsnet [they really don’t have to be, but they are in a position to be aggressive]

Another bane of the leaves? Why the Atlantic Division is the NHL’s Death Group Once Again | by: Toronto Star [The correct answer here is just abolish the division format]

opinion poll

What are you doing with the playoffs?

  • 6%

    Keep it just the way it is, it’s great hockey

    (21 votes)

  • 89%

    Abolish the division format, go back to 1-8 conferences

    (279 votes)

  • 3%

    Expand the wild card to four teams with a play-in for teams 7-10

    (12 votes)

A total of 312 votes

Vote now

Congratulations to Alex Biega on a great career, including his two games with the Leafs and 31 with the Marlies. He is retiring at the age of 34.

I don’t have much interest in watching the WJC as there is literally no Leafs perspective and very low probability of future Leafs. Canada could still be a cheer, I’m a Shane Wright fan. Finland is a fun choice because of the blue and white factor. But may I suggest cheering for Sweden this year? The Leafs have five Swedes in their squad, maybe for Börje this year too?

Roman Josi is now the all-time all-time leader in Nashville Predators history, overtaking David Legwand.

The George Bell Arena near Runnymede Road and West St. Clair Avenue will be closed for several months from Friday for urgent roof repairs. [City News]

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