LGD - Game 58: Leafs @ Panthers - Still hungover

Cam Charron
February 04 2014 10:45AM


*cackles maniacally*

Tomorrow morning I'm going to take a bus down to Seattle to watch a friggin championship victory parade. I can say with absolute certainty that I would not have enjoyed the Superbowl victory as much as I would have had I not sat through some awful, awful years and monumentally heartbreaking losses (remember what Sean McIndoe said about "THOSE GAMES" last spring? The Seahawks exit against Atlanta to end their season a year ago was one of THOSE GAMES. He was completely right. I'm over Pete Carroll's confusing decision to play prevent defence against Matt Ryan with under a minute to go. I'm even over Matt Hasselbeck "we'll take the ball and we're going to score!" Right now, only the things between now and the next victory will count in the annals of crushing disappointment.) 

Anyway, that's not really important to the game between the Maple Leafs and the Panthers tonight. I have a couple of notes about Dave Nonis' reported rant at his team and also a whack of statistics that don't matter.

KEY STATISTICS

  Panthers Maple Leafs
Corsi Close % 50.5% (14th) 43.2% (29th)
5v5 GF/60 2.26 (18th) 2.37 (13th)
5v5 GA/60 2.67 (28th) 2.50 (24th)
5v5 Diff/60 -0.41 (24th) -0.13 (18th)
PDO 98.6 (27th) 101.6 (5th)
     
  Panthers Maple Leafs
5v4 GF/60 2.50 (30th) 7.96 (4th)
5v4 SF/60 41.6 (28th) 53.5 (9th)
4v5 GA/60 8.01 (29th) 6.62 (20th)
4v5 SA/60 54.4 (21st) 61.7 (30th)
Penalty Differential +11 (7th) -10 (23rd)

Extra Skater and NHL

People (including myself) kept saying "the Leafs take too many shots, the Leafs take too many penalties, and the Leafs rely too much on their goaltending". Those people are still right, the Leafs do a lot of things wrong, but that's what's making this winning streak a lot of fun, not only because the two most exciting players on the team, Phil Kessel and Nazem Kadri, are producing beyond their means, but because the 2013-14 Toronto Maple Leafs season has just been a complete logical mystery. The rest of the league is playing chess, and the Leafs are playing bowling. 

Supposedly, the Leafs win streak began when Nonis addressed the team a few weeks ago after a string of losses:

Dave Nonis stood in front of the Toronto Maple Leafs and ran through the unwelcome consequences that were coming if the team continued on its losing ways.

This was only a couple weeks ago and the atmosphere in the dressing room couldn’t have been any different than it is right now. Tensions were extremely high following a couple embarrassing losses and, according to one confidant, coach Randy Carlyle even feared that his job might be in danger. A few of his players had good reason to wonder if they might be shipped out of town, too.

I'm not sure what effect something like that may have. Chris Johnston, who wrote the story, doesn't offer much of a timeline on when Nonis stood up in front of his team. I can buy it as a more plausible reason for the team's win streak than the addition of Tim Gleason to the lineup, but it falls flat in some areas. For one, Dave Nonis is not a particularly intimidating personality. He always has the same expression of a worried dog on his face, and if the team was tuning out Randy Carlyle at that point, how would they react to a guy they don't see, or trust, as much.

By checking out these graphs, with the Leafs Fenwick% and PDO (save percentage plus shooting percentage) rolled over the last ten games (via Extra Skater) you can see that the right addition of skill and luck has kind of spurred this:

The Leafs 45.4% Fenwick Close over the last ten games is the highest it's been for any ten-game stretch this season save for a 45.8% one in late November-early December. (The Leafs only won two of those ten games, in part because that was when the Leafs PK was giving up two goals a game, plus 45% Fenwick Close is still pretty poor) 

Here are the 10-game PDO swings throughout the year. They're back to 103 over the past ten games:

Some good luck has helped along with some improved play. While a 45% Fenwick Close is still a pretty bad number, but it beats the hell out of 40%. The Leafs also won a game Saturday without the aid of their goaltender, decisively out-shooting Ottawa 36-26 and close to even in 5-on-5 Close Corsi at 33-37.

Without a timeline on the Nonis rant, however, I'm suspicious as to its effectiveness. Sometimes things don't explain an uptick in PDO or why a team is getting the bounces they previously weren't. Television audiences like a nice, digestible soundbyte as to why.

LINEUP

 

As much as the 38-22-28 line frustrates me, I think I like it better than that first option, where you're wasting the talents of David Clarkson next to a player that takes too long to shoot and one that doesn't shoot. I'm not keen on the idea of sitting Troy Bodie, either, but it seems this is how it'll go today:

James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Joffrey Lupul - Nazem Kadri - Nik Kulemin
David Clarkson - Jay McClement - Mason Raymond
Frazer McLaren - Jerred Smithson - Colt Knorr

That second line is obviously one that's been working over the last few games, and I can understand why Randy Carlyle doesn't want to upset that, but yeesh, that bottom six looks awful tonight.

Panthers are like so, per Daily Faceoff:

Jonathan Huberdeau - Nick Bjugstad - Scottie Upshall
Sean Bergenheim - Aleksander Barkov - Brad Boyes
Tomas Fleischmann - Marcel Goc - Tomas Kopecky
Jesse Winchester - Scott Gomez - Shawn Matthias

Brian Campbell - Tom Gilbert
Erik Gudbranson - Ed Jovanovski
Dmitry Kulikov - Mike Weaver

The Panthers have dealt with six thousands injuries over the last few years, so I can't remember the last time their lineup was the same for consecutive games. You'll note that unlike the game against the Panthers a week ago, Sasha Barkov is back in, playing where Scott Gomez did on that second line. Huberdeau has also been moved up with Bjugstad.

STARTING GOALIES

The key difference between the two rosters from this week to last week however, is that the Panthers are going to go with Tim Thomas in goal, an absolute detestable human being and also possibly the best goaltender of the era. His age, coupled with not getting to play with the Bruins anymore, has somewhat seen his numbers fall off and he's been hovering around an average even strength save percentage for most of the season, although that's notably better than anything the Panthers have had in the last two seasons. Leafs are going with Jonathan Bernier.

Leafs and Panthers are at 7:30 tonight on Sportsnet Ontario.

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Cam Charron is a BC hockey fan that writes about hockey on many different websites including this one.
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#1 leaferfan
February 04 2014, 04:36PM
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It is nice to see you guys only can complain about the 4th line because shot differentials and PDO are doing whatever they are doing here.

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#2 STAN
February 04 2014, 11:27AM
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It looks to me like Carlyle is counting on the top six forwards and perhaps a defenceman to score enough to compensate for the bottom six.

Gotta love the favourable Leafs schedule - a Florida trip, with some beach and golf time thrown in, just before the big Olympics break for most of the team.

As a inherent skeptic (especially of Carlyle's coaching), the Clarkson return and that cringe-worthy fourth line Leafs me with a bad feeling about this game.

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#3 Poluza
February 04 2014, 12:49PM
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I know that Carlyle (or someone) likes having two enforcers on the roster. But I wonder if Nonis is going to keep both past the trade deadline. They could use that roster spot for somebody more talented and help make this team more competitive. The Leafs were quite successful against Boston when they were using a skill-based lineup. I'd love to see that again.

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#4 nwamaddox
February 04 2014, 01:40PM
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I'm not sure that in the midst of the statistically improbable tear the Leafs are on that it's worth talking about PDO. PDO has to, by definition work out to 1 when all teams are considered over long time periods because save percentage plus shooting percentage must be 100%.

The Leafs have been receiving above-average goaltending so consistently that in order to properly compare the Leafs' performance throughout the year, it may be necessary to consider only shooting percentage. Any thoughts?

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#5 Bottle Police
February 04 2014, 01:56PM
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Holy Shnikies, The Leafs are'nt 1st in PDO? Thats got to be the first time in the past couple of years. Anyone know who is above them? Avalanche HAS to be, but I wonder who else?

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#6 MaxPower417
February 04 2014, 02:19PM
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If Holland hadn't of been attacked by a pair of rabid laces we would have Raymond - Holland - Clarkson as our third line, which doesn't look half bad to me.

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#7 MaxPower417
February 04 2014, 02:19PM
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@Bottle Police

Pretty sure the Ducks lead the league but I'm too lazy to check.

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#8 Mark
February 04 2014, 03:34PM
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I would complain about the fourth line but they'll hopefully get no more than 5 minutes.

Nonis has to take away Randy's favourite toys or else we're going to be seeing that fourth line more often.

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#9 Cam Thornton
February 04 2014, 04:16PM
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Not sure if Carlyle is expecting a brawl to break out tonight or what, having both Orr and McClaren back together with the best 4th line center in the league (strong sarcasm on that). Not sure why they are reluctant to have Bodie in the lineup. I would think the 4th line of Bodie-McClemment-Orr is ideal (with the given circumstances), but kinda leaves a gap on that 3rd line center. When Bolland is back, do you guys see the bottom 6 as

Clarkson-Bolland-Raymond Bodie-McClemment-Orr

or do you believe they'll resend Bodie down and stick with this 4th line? (replace Smithson with McClemment)

Curious to see how this all shakes up once there is a healthy lineup

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#10 Gardiner-Reilly
February 04 2014, 08:17PM
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Oh lord, I can't wait for the post game review after that despicable showing by the Leafs.

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