Maple Leafs scoring chances through 36 games

Screencap via MLHS

After our last update, the Toronto Maple Leafs were still out-chancing the opposition despite getting out-shot most nights, but their bad habits caught up to them in the third quarter of our shortened season.

I have so far counted 374 chances against the Leafs at even strength, and 356 for the Leafs. That’s just even strength, since thanks to a strong penalty kill, the Leafs are overall out-chancing their opposition once you factor in special teams, 474-469.

For individual differentials for players, as well as some explanation into what a scoring chance is, click past the jump.

In regards to scoring chances, we use the definition from the Copper n Blue:

A scoring chance is defined as a clear play directed toward the opposing net from a dangerous scoring area – loosely defined as the top of the circle in and inside the faceoff dots (nicknamed the Home Plate), though sometimes slightly more generous than that depending on the amount of immediately-preceding puck movement or screens in front of the net. Blocked shots are generally not included but missed shots are. A player is awarded a scoring chance anytime he is on the ice and someone from either team has a chance to score. He is awarded a “chance for” if someone on his team has a chance to score and a “chance against” if the opposing team has a chance to score.

The home plate area: 

Now, the general rule is that “possession begets chances” and “chances beget goals”. When the Toronto Maple Leafs have a high shooting percentage, it doesn’t mean that the Leafs are getting lucky shooting the puck. It means they’re getting lucky with the puck finding sticks in the scoring area.

Ultimately, the teams that take the best chances will score the most goals. I haven’t seen enough evidence to say that generating scoring chances is a repeatable talent: you’ll see later in this post that scoring chance numbers are near identical to Corsi numbers *except in some cases*. If there’s a major difference between “chances” and Corsi, I’d expect Corsi to be more predictable of the future.

To illustrate this visually, I’ve looked at Leaf Fenwick numbers (goals, shots and missed shots) and how they relate to scoring chances over the course of a season. The percentages are the rate of events that went in favour of the Leafs. 10-10 would be 50%, 11-9 would be 55%, and so on:

Shot rate has stayed more consistent than scoring chances this season. Scoring chances are trending downward lately and this is the first 12-game segment of the season where they’ve found themselves in the negative (below 50%) all season. That said, the penalty kill is exceptional and the Leafs have banked enough points that they can back into a playoff spot if need be.

Here are Leaf forward totals. 150 minutes is the minimum to be included:

No. TOI Total + Total – + per 20 – per 20 +/- per 20
Nazem Kadri 477.58 117 87 4.9 3.6 1.3
Matt Frattin 249.4 58 46 4.7 3.7 1.0
Leo Komarov 365.82 77 64 4.2 3.5 0.7
Clarke MacArthur 402.53 90 83 4.5 4.1 0.3
James van Riemsdyk 540.58 118 134 4.4 5.0 -0.6
Tyler Bozak 536.03 113 129 4.2 4.8 -0.6
Colton Orr 204.03 32 39 3.1 3.8 -0.7
Phil Kessel 570.35 123 143 4.3 5.0 -0.7
Mikhail Grabovski 503.73 94 114 3.7 4.5 -0.8
Nik Kulemin 500.92 94 114 3.8 4.6 -0.8
Jay McClement 401.8 43 78 2.1 3.9 -1.7

Four Leaf forwards find themselves in the positives, including, uh, Leonid Komarov, who fits the profile of a two-way player in the sense that he’s played a bunch of minutes this year with Nazem Kadri.

You can see at the bottom the Leaf players who have been playing against the toughest competition. Jay McClement is overall a -1.7, but that’s mostly because he doesn’t generate anything offensively. He restricts shots and chances against defensively, which is something Mikhail Grabovski and Nik Kulemin haven’t been able to do this season. The first line get lit up when they’re on the ice.

Here’s the defence:

No. TOI Total + Total – + per 20 – per 20 +/- per 20
Cody Franson 459.12 92 70 4.0 3.0 1.0
Mark Fraser 458.58 92 73 4.0 3.2 0.8
Carl Gunnarsson 492.43 101 92 4.1 3.7 0.4
John-Michael Liles 343.28 67 71 3.9 4.1 -0.2
Mike Kostka 534.77 117 129 4.4 4.8 -0.4
Dion Phaneuf 665.65 128 162 3.8 4.9 -1.0
Korbinian Holzer 342.67 64 85 3.7 5.0 -1.2

Carl Gunnarsson is in the pluses despite playing in the top four all season. What a hero. Korbinian Holzer was up on the first pairing for about seven games too long and was sent down when the Leafs finally realized it. In the end, playing with Holzer and Mike Kostka all season has killed Phaneuf’s numbers, although Corsi is more forgiving to Kostka.

If anybody is wondering, Joffrey Lupul and Jake Gardiner haven’t met the minimum number of minutes to show up on the chart. The Leafs have been great with Lupul on the ice this season: 6.6 chances for and 3.7 against per 20 minutes. It would lead the team, but again, small sample. With Gardiner, they’re +4.9 and -6.0 per 20 minutes. Great offensively, weak defensively, but split the difference, give him more time for those numbers to settle and he comes out in the pluses more often than Mark Fraser.

Actually, give him Mark Fraser’s minutes.

For my own reference, here are Behind the numbers. If you doubt the Leafs possession problems, note that no regular player has started more than half of his shifts in the offensive zone. Toronto are getting buried next to James Reimer and Ben Scrivens in that respect.

NAME TOI/60 Corsi Relative Corsi On Off Zone Start % Corsi Rel QoC
Matt Frattin 12.47 15.2 -1.20 44.4 0.181
Clarke MacArthur 13.42 15.1 -2.24 47.3 -0.163
Nazem Kadri 13.27 14.2 -1.63 48.1 0.023
James van Riemsdyk 15.02 4.6 -8.77 48.5 0.989
Phil Kessel 15.84 4.6 -8.84 48.8 0.757
Tyler Bozak 14.89 2.2 -10.41 45.6 0.811
Leo Komarov 11.80 1.4 -8.86 47.0 0.025
Mikhail Grabovski 13.99 0.2 -11.79 36.4 1.605
Colton Orr 6.18 -9.9 -20.88 49.2 -2.108
Nikolai Kulemin 13.91 -11.5 -20.12 36.7 1.969
Jay McClement 11.16 -23.4 -29.87 28.3 0.786

NAME TOI/60 Corsi Relative Corsi On Off Zone Start % Corsi Rel QoC
Cody Franson 13.91 8.5 -6.27 48.9 -0.894
Mike Kostka 17.25 8.0 -5.27 42.6 0.726
Mark Fraser 13.90 5.8 -8.50 46.0 -0.749
John-Michael Liles 15.60 5.0 -5.94 48.3 -0.076
Carl Gunnarsson 17.59 0.0 -12.18 42.0 0.948
Dion Phaneuf 18.49 -12.6 -19.65 40.6 1.952
Korbinian Holzer 15.58 -24.2 -27.49 40.9 1.471

Scoring chance and advanced statistics on this page updated through games played on April 3, 2013.


  • jasken

    I’m confused with your data here has to say about some leaf players. It says that Kessel and Phaneuf are not very good hockey players. Most real fans, NHL coaches, GMs would laugh at you and your data.

    This data doesn’t pass “doesn’t this make sense” test. It even suggest Orr is a better hockey player then Kessel. There is just so much wrong with this.

    • What no it doesn’t.

      The data can say one thing but it can be interpreted a lot of different ways.

      //remembers a few MSMers RT’d the article
      ///understands commenters aren’t coming back
      ////heavy sigh
      /////lets out a wet fart

  • jasken

    so what they need is pretty much everyone healthy and get the kessel/Bozak/jvr getting into the dirty areas like they were at the start of the month to bring it back up to respectable numbers. Tonight’s a good night to start.

  • Derek342

    The Leafs PK is really saving their season. That and James Reimer. There are literally zero positive Corsi players on the Leafs, and we’re benching one of our best ones (so far).

    Will be interesting to see how repeatable the scoring chance data are, since the Leafs are clearly more adept by this measure.

  • Derek342

    I have a question about this article. Note that I’m new to #fancystats so bear with me:

    On your Chances/Fenwick graph, the blue indicates the Leafs have been out-chanced every game since about game 24. However, on your game summary from the Mar 30 game, Toronto out-chanced the Sens 14-12. I’m reading the graph wrong presumably…?