July 15 2016 09:00AM
The best and worst games played by a Leaf last season were both by Jonathan Bernier. They were played within eight days of each other. On December 29, Bernier let in six goals on 15 shots (and got pulled) against the Islanders in a 6-3 loss. On January 6th, he stopped all 39 shots he faced against the Ducks in a 4-0 Leafs win.
The first game earned a Game Score of -3.6 – one of the worst for any player all season – while the other was worth 3.9. For most of the year he was above water, but it was a roller coaster of highs and lows for Bernier. That one week was the apex.
You’re probably wondering what Game Score is at this point. It’s a stat I stole from basketball that attempts to measure a player’s performance in a single game using every basic stat we hold near and dear to our hearts: goals, assists, shots, blocks, faceoffs, penalties, and 5-on-5 on-ice differentials for Corsi and Goals. You can read more about it here.
What I wanted to do with this post was take a basic look at the Leafs 2015-16 season through the lens of this new stat, as well as look at some historic games played – well, historic in the BehindTheNet era, at least.
June 22 2016 07:00AM
After establishing who makes up the Leafs core and projecting how good those players will be over the next five seasons, it’s finally time to answer the big question on everyone's mind: just how long until the Leafs are competitive again?
And it’s an important question to ask based on some of the events (and rumoured events) that have transpired over the last few days.
Two days ago, the Leafs traded pick no. 30 in this year’s draft and a second rounder in 2017 for goaltender Frederik Andersen, and then signed him for five seasons. As you’ll recall from previous parts to this series, goaltending was an enigma for this team going forward, but the Leafs have apparently found their guy (RIP ‘Mystery Goalie’).
Plugging that hole seems to signal a change in the Leafs plans; that the scorched earth part of the rebuild is now over, and it’s time to start acquiring pieces that will help the team consistently earn two points night in and night out. If that weren't the plan the team would’ve probably continued playing Jonathan Bernier, right?
June 15 2016 08:01AM
First, we identified the Leafs core. Then we projected the young studs that’ll be the main building blocks of that core. Now it’s time to look at the pieces already on the roster that could make up the rest of the core.
We’ve already projected whether The Big Three will be championship calibre players with a possible timeframe in mind (3-5 years). The question now is whether the surrounding core pieces will be good enough. In my initial THN piece, one of the main rules was that a team needs to have about four elite players and one excellent player on top of that.
All three of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander project to be elite pieces (although there is no absolute certainty in that whatsoever), so realistically the Leafs only need one more core player to be an elite piece; preferably their number one d-man.
June 08 2016 07:00AM
The first step to building a Stanley Cup champion is establishing a core. We’ve done that already in the first part of this series.
To recap quickly, there’s seven key pieces on almost every Cup contender that make up the core: an elite number one centre, an elite winger, an elite d-man, a very good second centre, a strong fourth forward, a solid goalie, and a capable second d-man.
On the Leafs, these are the likely candidates for those spots going forward:
June 01 2016 07:00AM
As Pittsburgh and San Jose battle to take home the Stanley Cup, I’m sure there’s one thought thought that’s crossing every Leafs fans’ mind while watching: how long until we see the Leafs here?
It’s a valid question, but considering it’s steeped deeply in years of futility, the question is much closer to “seriously how much longer?” Yes, it’s been a while. Almost 50 years. Back when Brian Burke came aboard in 2008 he said that fans wouldn’t have patience for a five-year rebuild. As if after 41 years, they’d throw patience out the window. Eight years later, here we (still) are.