It’s probably too early for the Toronto Maple Leafs to push the panic button, but there are surely hands hovering and inching closer.
With the home stretch of the 2019-20 season nearly here, the Maple Leafs sit just outside the playoff picture — two points separate Toronto from the Flyers’ hold on the second wild-card spot. One point excludes them from third in the Atlantic.
After a sterling late-December stretch that saw the club win nine of 10, they’ve endured a more tumultuous past 10 games, winning just four in that stretch.
Peaks and valleys aside, the key question as crunch time approaches is where the Maple Leafs actually stand — what is it that the club actually has in their current group, and what potential do they have to make noise down the stretch and perhaps in the post-season?
With Monday’s loss to Florida serving as the 30th game under new head coach Sheldon Keefe, let’s take a step back and see what the numbers tell us about who these Leafs are under the new regime:
All statistics courtesy of NaturalStatTrick.
3.93: The Maple Leafs’ offence ranked 13th in the league on Nov. 20 when the coaching change took place. Over these past 30 games, it’s ranked as the NHL’s best, putting up a league-leading 3.93 goals per game. Toronto’s also been among the top squads in terms of getting shots on net, their 34.1 per game ranking as the third-most league-wide over this stretch.
4: Sitting with a 9-10-4 record when Keefe took the reins, the Maple Leafs have rolled to a 19-8-3 record in the 30 games under the former AHL bench boss, good for 41 points. In terms of point percentage, that puts Toronto as the fourth-best team in the league over that span.
6: Looking a bit deeper at how the club’s offence is performing, the new-look Leafs still rank among the best in the league at the moment. They rank sixth-best in terms of the percentage of scoring chances that are swinging their way over these 30 games, accounting for 53.19 per cent of them. It’s a similar story if we zoom in and look to high-danger chances, as the Leafs also rank sixth-best in terms of the percentage of high-danger chances that have gone their way over this stretch, accounting for 53.53 per cent of them.
8: Looking to how the club’s controlled the flow of play under Keefe, the Leafs rank among the top tier in terms of Corsi For percentage under their new coach, their mark of 52.05 per cent sitting at eighth-best league-wide.
11: Taking into account the impact of the club’s goaltending on the overall picture, the Maple Leafs rank 11th in terms of the percentage of total goals going their way in games over Keefe’s stretch, their goals-for percentage sitting at 53.38 per cent.
23: Auston Matthews has been the central reason for Toronto’s offensive dominance since Keefe came aboard. Posting 14 goals over the first 23 games of the season, prior to the coaching change, Matthews has amassed 23 through the past 30 games, that sum ranking as the second-most in the league. Only timeless goal-scoring monster Alex Ovechkin has scored more, posting 25 tallies through his past 30 games. Cut out the noise and focus on even-strength goals, and the duo remain the class of the league — Ovechkin leads with 20 even-strength goals in this timeline, Matthews sits second with 18. The Maple Leafs’ star sniper has also put up the sixth-most shots in the league over that stretch
32.4: Keefe’s Leafs have also run the most potent power play in the league since he came aboard, their success rate of 32.4 per cent ranking tops in the league over the past 30 games. That percentage is partly affected by the fact that Toronto’s been on the power play less than any other team in the league over this span — their 2.64 penalties drawn per 60 minutes since Nov. 21 is the lowest in the league. That said, they’re also only taking 2.64 penalties per 60 minutes, leaving them with an even zero when it comes to net penalties per 60.
35: Overall, Matthews and Mitch Marner have driven the team’s success with team-leading 35-point sums under Keefe. In terms of scoring pace, it’s been Marner leading, as the 22-year-old has posted his 35 points in just 24 games. Those 35 points apiece leave the two young guns tied for 13th in league scoring since the late-November change. Overall, Matthews ranks 12th in the league with 62 points (and third in the league with 37 goals), while Marner ranks tied for 19th in league scoring with 53 total points.
80: Take that together, and there’s no question that Toronto’s offence is rolling to a dominant degree this season, particularly under their new coach. And in terms of getting that offence in a consistent, repeatable manner, the club also ranks second-best in five-on-five goal-scoring — they have 80 five-on-five goals to their name since Keefe’s arrival, with all other teams playing either the same or more games over that stretch.
11: A deeper look likely isn’t needed to understand this aspect of the Maple Leafs’ game at the moment — while their offence has rolled over the competition during the past 30 games, they’ve also been among the bottom tier of teams in terms of keeping pucks out of their own net. Their 3.10 goals-against per game under Keefe rank as the 11th-most allowed league-wide.
18: Much of the conversation is focused on the backup netminder position, and an injury to Frederik Andersen puts that issue under a brighter spotlight, but the team’s left more to be desired defensively as well — under Keefe, they rank 18th in the league in terms of limiting shots-against, allowing a decently hefty 31.5 against per game.
24: They slide even lower if we look to the overall percentage of scoring chances-against in games over this stretch that have been kept out, ranking 24th with a mark of 85.61 per cent.
26: Keefe’s Leafs slide lower still if we zoom in to assess high-danger chances, ranking 26th in the league in terms of the percentage of high-danger shots-against in these games that are saved, with a mark of 85.24 per cent.
39: Though Michael Hutchinson’s drawn the ire of the Maple Leafs faithful for earning just four wins through his 10 starts, Andersen surely hasn’t been at his best, either. The 30-year-old ranks 39th in the league since Keefe came aboard with a save percentage of .909. The explosive offence in front of him has allowed the team to still post 15 wins with him in net during this span at least, which is tied for second-most among all netminders over that span.
With 29 games remaining on their season, the Maple Leafs get their next chance to push back into the playoff picture at 7:30 p.m. ET Wednesday via a tilt with the New York Rangers. Catch the action on Sportsnet or Sportsnet NOW.