It’s a familiar story.
The Toronto Maple Leafs were outshot significantly; the Toronto Maple Leafs won anyway.
“If we play like that every night and our goaltender has to get us a point in the shootout, that’s not the way we want to play every night: 42-19 were the shots at the end of the game,” Kyle Dubas said the morning after the Leafs’ 2-1 victory in Detroit. “You’re not going to win many games using that method.”
The Maple Leafs’ assistant general manager appeared on The Jeff Blair Show Thursday morning on Sportsnet 590 The Fan to discuss his club’s hot streak.
Dubas watched the team win its third in a row Wednesday. Toronto has now picked up a standings point in eight of its last nine games and holds the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
“We’ve seen over the last couple years, when you bank on hot shooting and hot goaltending, when it dries up, it’s not a very fun thing to do,” Dubas said. “I don’t know if we’ve truly pieced together a complete game yet, but we’re striving to get there.”
As with stretches in 2013-14, the streaking Leafs have been backed by strong goaltending and a high shooting percentage, Dubas explained. But it’s moments when the team sustains offensive pressure, as with the first period against Vancouver on Saturday and the second period against Calgary on Tuesday, that most impress Dubas.
“We show stretches in every game [since the back-to-back losses to Buffalo and Nashville] that if we play the right way and show what we’re capable of, [if] we can continue to play that way and stretch it over complete games, that’s going to be the key,” said Dubas. “That’s the only way we’re going to have success over the long haul.”
Since 2010-11, the Maple Leafs have won 30 games when allowing 40-plus shots on net. That’s five more than the next closest (luckiest?) team, the Carolina Hurricanes.
Despite ranking just 17th in shots per game (30) and an ugly 27th in shots allowed per game (33.6), Toronto is winning, thanks in large part to the work of Jonathan Bernier and the seldom-used James Reimer.
On Wednesday, Reimer faced 40-plus shots for the third time this season; he’s won every one of those games.
So, is there friction between the two goalies, considering Reimer — who wants to be a No. 1 — has seen just eight starts to Bernier’s 20?
“I don’t subscribe to the notion that the goaltenders have to be best friends,” Dubas said. “They’re two good goaltenders, and we’re fortunate to have them both. They’re pushing each other to be better, evidently. That’s really all I’m concerned about.”
“They appear to have a good relationship — professional and push one another.”
The Maple Leafs (16-9-3) host the Red Wings Saturday at Air Canada Centre.