October 27 2016 08:31AM
There aren't nearly as many statistics available to evaluate goalies as there are to evaluate forwards and defencemen. That's true whether you're talking about the standard boxcar stats that newspapers and NHL.com have reported for years, or whether you're referring to the newer breed of numbers often called "analytics" or "advanced stats". But I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that there are a few more ways to look at goalies than there were a few years ago. A couple of weeks ago I talked about dividing saves into "danger zones" based on their distance from the net. This time I'm going to take a look at Quality Starts.
October 17 2016 07:00AM
There was a lot of excitement in Leafs Nation heading into the 2016-17 NHL season, with a crop of top prospects that included 1st overall pick Auston Matthews, Memorial Cup MVP Mitch Marner, and Swedish wunderkind William Nylander. It took just one game for that excitement to pay off when Matthews put in an incredible four goal performance, setting an NHL record as the only player to score four times in their NHL debut. Matthews' performance is even more impressive when you realise that only one player (Sam Bennett) had a 4-goal game last year, and only 13 players have matched that total in the past five seasons.
Scoring four goals in one game is quite rare; doing it in your first NHL game even moreso. But how long does it normally take for a star to score their first four career goals? For that matter, how long does it take someone who isn't as skilled as most first overall picks? Let's delve into some history and find out.
October 10 2016 07:00AM
The biggest roster move the Leafs made this summer was acquiring Frederik Andersen from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for 30th overall, a 2017 second round draft pick, and Jonathan Bernier. One of the things that jumps out about Andersen is his size. At 6'4" and 230 pounds, he's one of the NHL's larger goalies, both in terms of height and width. Lamoriello said that was one of the things the Leafs liked about Andersen: "He gives us size which today is a necessity the way the game is played." Lou followed up by adding that, "his athleticism is exceptional."
While goaltending analysis has a lot of room to grow, we have a couple of extra tools available today than we did a few years ago. One of the things we can do is splitting up the shots a goalie faces based on "danger zones". If we divide shots into low, medium, and high danger zones (far, medium, and close distance, respectively), it turns out that whether low or medium danger shots become goals is almost entirely random. It seems to be the case that the only shots where differences in goaltender talent matter much are high danger shots.
September 30 2016 07:13AM
Back in June, on the day that the Toronto Maple Leafs drafted Auston Matthews first overall, Mike Babcock told reporters that Matthews would start the year playing on the 3rd line, with Nazem Kadri and Tyler Bozak ahead of him on the depth chart. On Wednesday this week Babcock repeated that sentiment and said it would be up to Auston to determine how quickly he's able to climb the depth chart.
Hearing Babcock say that Matthews, the Leafs franchise player, will play on the 3rd line behind Tyler Bozak may sound strange at first. Auston recently dazzled fans at the World Cup of Hockey while playing on Team North America's first line with Connor McDavid. Matthews had three points in three games, and his two goals were tied for the team lead. How could a player so exciting be relegated to the third line of a team that just finished last in the NHL? But if we look a bit deeper at what the Leafs are trying to build, it makes perfect sense.
September 29 2016 09:19AM
It's well known that September is Jake Gardiner Appreciation Month. But did you know that Toronto has other defencemen? It's true. One of those defencemen is Morgan Rielly, the former 5th overall pick who recently played a major role on the exciting Young Guns team at the World Cup of Hockey. In fact, some people even think Morgan Rielly is better than Jake Gardiner. What a world!
I decided it was time to answer the question once and for all. This is the post that will end all arguments on Twitter, forever, I think. So I gathered a bunch of stats and put them in some charts and now you can see them.