November 30 2016 02:49AM
Photo Credit: Perry Nelson/USA TODAY SPORTS
Auston Matthews has gotten off to a pretty fast start to his NHL career. His 9 goals have him tied for the team lead on the Leafs with Nazem Kadri and James van Riemsdyk, while his 17 points are just one off the team lead. Even more impressive is his shot volume. Matthews has taken 77 shots through 21 games, which is the 6th most in the entire league. And Matthews is doing it in a smaller number of minutes than other top players, as he's the only one in the top 15 in shots who's getting fewer than 18 minutes a night.
This got me wondering how Matthews compares to some of the other best young players in recent years. So I grabbed a list of the top shooters from the past decade who were 20 years old or younger.
November 28 2016 05:25PM
A few weeks ago when Frederik Andersen was really struggling I wrote an article looking at whether his struggles were out of the norm relative to the rest of his career and found that they weren't. Andersen's first five games with the Leafs did not have good results, but it was just the kind of rough patch that goalies will have from time-to-time, and I said that he'd likely bounce back. In the 11 games that Andersen's played since then his SV% is .931. As has been typical of his career, after a period with bad results, Andersen followed up by playing very well.
The other Leafs goalie, Jhonas Enroth, has undergone a similar struggle. He's made five appearances this season, posting a SV% of just .886. Should we expect him to bounce back too, or should we be worried that he's hit a new career low?
November 27 2016 08:12AM
The Toronto Maple Leafs powerplay was confounding in Mike Babcock's first season as head coach of the team. They were 3rd in the NHL in shot attempt rate at 5v4, at 103.6 attempts per 60 minutes. Even more impressive, they were 1st in scoring chance rate, at 28.7 scoring chances per 60 minutes, a good ways ahead of 2nd place San Jose, who fired 26.3 SCF/60. And yet, despite all those opportunities, the Leafs struggled to score powerplay goals. They finished 29th in the NHL in powerplay success rate and were 3rd last in S%.
This year the story is markedly different. The team has fallen to 23rd in the league in shot attempts, generating 84.5 CF/60, an 18% decrease in shot volume. Scoring chances paint a slightly rosier picture. The Leafs SC/60 at 5v4 is 11th in the league, with 24.3 SC/60 representing a drop of 15%. But the Leafs are much more successful on the powerplay this year, with a 9th ranked powerplay that's scoring on nearly 2% more of its shots.
What explains the difference between the Leafs powerplay in these two seasons?
November 08 2016 07:36AM
Over the past four or five seasons, I've been a pretty harsh critic of Tyler Bozak. I've frequently argued that he was a poor player propped up by playing with one of the league's most dynamic wingers, and that if it weren't for Phil Kessel, Tyler Bozak would score very few points in the National Hockey League.
Despite my criticisms, Bozak has continued to put up points since Kessel was traded to the Penguins, and I think it's time for a re-assessment of Bozak's play. Let's take a look at how we got to here, and what the evidence seems to say today.
October 31 2016 07:00AM
The Toronto Maple Leafs made a big bet on Frederik Andersen this summer when they acquired him for Jonathan Bernier and two high draft picks, then proceeded to sign Andersen to a long-term contract extension. When the new starter struggled to start the season, fans and media alike were concerned about what was going on with the Leafs' starting goalie. The situation culminated in a tense exchange between a reporter and Mike Babcock earlier this week: