December 12 2013 01:25PM
Counting shots and shots against for a single game can be somewhat misleading—late in games, when a team is trailing, they'll tend to shoot more. The best solution to this problem is to avoid counting shots during the parts of the game where it's in one team's interest to shoot the puck more than the other team's. We call this "score-close" or "close" situations: either the game is tied, or there's just one goal separating the teams in the first or second periods.
The Leafs have just one game this season where they've earned a higher rate of the close shots than against Los Angeles, where they out-shot the Kings 30-16, or earning a 65.2% shots rate. That was the 4-2 win against Buffalo, where they had a 66.7% shot share (out-shooting Buffalo 8-4 in close situations. Hardly a large-enough sample size for this project). What I found amazing is not that the Leafs had a higher share of shots than their opponent, but that it happened against Los Angeles, one of the dominant shooting teams in the league.
The question is… can they have a repeat performance, in St. Louis, on the road, on the second half of a back-to-back? Let's consult our magic 8 ball.
December 12 2013 12:51PM
What have we done to anger you, oh Hockey Gods?
December 11 2013 08:57PM
I don't know how many times over the last 70 or so games I've looked at an empty page, attempting to make sense of the game I just saw, trying to explain a game that was beyond explaining. The Toronto Maple Leafs have won their fair share of games that they didn't deserve to win, either because of a timely goal, a timely save or just straight-up voodoo. In a game like hockey, were process rarely conflates with results in a real small sample, it can be difficult to be analytical about a single game. Sometimes things were just not meant to be.
But I have never been so shocked about a Leafs loss as this one. Perhaps Game 4 of the series against the Bruins, where the Leafs got everything together for half a game and took it to one of the best teams in the conference offensively, defensively, and physically, only to lose the game on several botched coverages in the OT. This was similar. The Leafs were all over Los Angeles, and it was just one play that led to a two-on-one, with the puck on the stick of a dangerous shooter… and the winning goal was scored. And then another goal was scored, and it was a 3-1 final.
Much like that game, the Leafs out-played the Kings. Sure, the Kings were on the second game of a back-to-back, but they're one of the best puck possession clubs in the NHL, and the Leafs absolutely took it to them, and could not beat that friggin' undrafted goalie at the other end. At least it wasn't Ben Scrivens, because, oh boy, how bad would that have looked?
December 11 2013 12:25PM
Before every game, I get into writing about something other than the obvious storyline pertaining to the other team. The obvious thing going into tonight is the goaltenders. Jonathan Bernier will get to face his old team while Ben Scrivens looks to be sitting on the bench. Both have been exceptional since the trade in the summer.
But I don't want to write about the goaltenders, nor do I want to concentrate on the 6-0 drubbing the Los Angeles Kings laid on the Montreal Canadiens (thank you!) a night ago on national television. I want to focus on Justin Williams, because he is a player so rarely talked about in the mainstream press despite possibly being the best two-way winger in the world right now. He won't get Team Canada consideration because he's not flashy, but his teams are embarrassingly better with Williams on the ice than off the ice.
After the jump I'll look at the key statistics between the two teams, then completely ignore those, and focus on Justin Williams.
December 11 2013 11:26AM
After Steve Dangle and Cam Charron threatened to treat me like the Undertaker treated Mankind in their infamous 1998 "Hell in a Cell" match I have accepted their offer to be a part of the Leafs Nation team.
I am actually quite excited to be part of the Leafs Nation team. This is a website featuring some solid young talent and all the writers share a common bond; they are passionate about the Leafs and hockey.