Contributions From The Back End

In my last article, I wrote about how the Leafs have allowed significantly more goals so far this season than last, but that this year, the Leafs’ forwards have compensated by scoring a whole lot more. The truth is, I should have said that the team has scored more goals than last year – it isn’t really just the forwards, the team also is getting much better production so far this season from their defenders than they were a year ago today.

Follow me over the jump for more.

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Below is a table that shows the individual breakdown of points by defenders in this season (the white section), and points by defenders up until January 1st of last season (the yellow section). Of course, our defence corps has changed personnel a few times, so not every player shows up on both sides of the table.

It’s worth mentioning, I suppose, that since I did this by date, that the Leafs had played one fewer game by this date last year as they have this year. This doesn’t really detract much from the larger point I’m making here. 

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As you can see, although the defence has posted a similar number of shots from this year to last, there is a big jump in the total number of points. The glaring difference, of course, is shooting percentage. This season, it turns out that the bounces are going their way more often in the offensive end, and less often in their own end.

To put this defensive contribution into perspective, this season, the Leafs’ defenders account for 12.7% of the Leafs’ goals, while last season, they accounted for only 7.6% – despite a low team total GF.

Since the Leafs had 92 goals at this time last season, and 118 this year, a difference of 8 goals from the defence actually makes up exactly half of the goal differential between seasons. The low shooting percentages had already cost the Leafs two to three wins last season by the new year.

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Also relevant? The Leafs have allowed 41 goals against on the penalty kill so far this season, but only allowed a total of 62 all of last year. Hrm.

John-Michael Liles (21 Pts.) really has made up most of what Tomas Kaberle (24 Pts.) had done to this point last season, and the addition of Cody Franson more than makes up for the remaining difference, since we’re using him in place of Brett Lebda The Unfortunate.

The real value of a defenceman like François Beauchemin is neglected here, but his offence isn’t exactly difficult to replace.

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On a different note, if you’d have asked me to guess which of Jake Gardiner or Luke Schenn had more points this year, I would have gone with Gardiner in a heartbeat. Looks like the "poise" we keep hearing about hasn’t translated to points on the board just yet.

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