How Good Are The Leafs: Belated December Edition

Dom Luszczyszyn
January 11 2017 12:25PM

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Photo Credit: Dan Hamilton/USA TODAY SPORTS

We're now in the fourth month of the season for the Buds and the temperature on the team has completely switched. Around this time last month there was a lot of pessimism around the team and for good reason after dropping easy games to the dregs of the league like Vancouver, Arizona and Colorado. Since then the Leafs have been on a tear and are currently in or barely out of a playoff spot depending on whether you look at it sensibly (points percentage) or not (points).

Since losing to the Coyotes, aka their last 10 games, the Leafs are 7-2-1 and #TheLeafsAreActuallyGood hashtag has sort of reached a fever pitch on the ol' Twitter dot com and while I was on the fence about it earlier in the year, this run has pushed me on to the other side with the rest of the crazies. This is a good team. A good team that will fight for the playoffs and in fact has a pretty good chance of getting in themselves.

Before the season started I projected that the Leafs would be around an 87 point team based on a model using Game Score which measures the value of each player in the league. That would put them in the middle camp: not quite playoff calibre, but not a flaming pile of garbage either. Right now, they're set to surpass those expectations as they're on pace for 93 points. In fact, they even be a little better than that.

Here's how good the Leafs are, right now, according to Game Score, and a look at who's driving those results.

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Analyzing Toronto's Game Score from December

Dom Luszczyszyn
January 03 2017 08:09AM

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Photo Credit: Dan Hamilton/USA TODAY SPORTS

After every month of hockey, it's good practice to take a look back and assess what happens. That's my goal here with these posts analyzing the Leafs Game Score for each player for every month. You can find October's here and November's here.

For those unfamiliar with Game Score, it's a single number stat meant to measure single game productivity and player value that I developed over the summer. It basically combines the most important box-score stats and weights them by their relevance to goals. It's not perfect and there's much that is unaccounted for, but it does pretty well for something that is relatively simple to compute and comprehend.

The sample is still incredibly small, but I figure taking a look at the team on a monthly basis could provide some insight into how the team is doing. So without further ado, here's how the Leafs December looked through the eyes of Game Score and some thoughts on it.

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How Good Are The Leafs: November Edition

Dom Luszczyszyn
December 08 2016 01:45PM

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Photo Credit: John. E Sokolowski/USA TODAY SPORTS

We're now in the third month of the season, so it's time to get an update on just how good this Leafs team is. I know some people are getting more pessimistic with each passing game as the Leafs dropped a winnable game to arguably the league's worst team and then came up short again last night against a decent Wild team.

I understand the frustration and while I don't think (right now at least) that #TheLeafsAreActuallyGood, I do think they are at the very least Actually Average and much better than their current 82 point pace would suggest. 

Let's take a mini dive into their November and then check in on how good they really are.

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Analyzing Toronto's Game Score from November

Dom Luszczyszyn
December 06 2016 09:09AM

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Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin/USA TODAY SPORTS

After every month of hockey, it's good practice to take a look back and assess what happens. That's my goal here with these posts analyzing the Leafs Game Score for each player for every month. You can find October's here. (Apologies for the lateness here, Corsica didn't update right away after the month ended and then the weekend hit which is generally a content graveyard so here we are).

For those unfamiliar with Game Score, it's a single number stat meant to measure single game productivity and player value that I developed over the summer. It basically combines the most important box-score stats and weights them by their relevance to goals. It's not perfect and there's much that is unaccounted for, but it does pretty well for something that is relatively simple to compute and comprehend.

The sample is still incredibly small, but I figure taking a look at the team on a monthly basis could provide some insight into how the team is doing. So without further ado, here's how the Leafs November looked through the eyes of Game Score and some thoughts on it.

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The Extra 2% Continued: A Response to A Response

Dom Luszczyszyn
November 26 2016 01:47PM

Earlier this week I wrote a piece about improvements that can be made at the margins of a hockey team. The basic premise was that fourth lines and third pairs move the needle much more than most think and based on my model, a switch from Ben Smith, Roman Polak, and Matt Hunwick to Peter Holland, Martin Marincin, and Frank Corrado is the difference between 89 and 93 points, at least by my model.

Today, David Johnson aka @hockeyanalysis on Twitter offered a different perspective to the piece, citing the Leafs defensive issues as the team's biggest problem and showing that removing the three players I pointed out as issues would be a further detriment to the team's defensive woes. That is 100 percent an argument I can get behind, after all, the role of those three is to play defence so they should be better at it.

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