I ran this comparison with the Oilers earlier today, and I think it’s an interesting way of measuring the progress (or lack thereof) for NHL teams. I noted before it’s not a perfect instrument, but it does give us some idea of how teams have improved or regressed.
08-09 Record: 34 – 35 – 13
- Even Strength Goals: 171 for / 197 against: -26
- Power Play Goals: 61 for / 7 against: +54
- Short Handed Goals: 6 for / 77 against: -71
- Totals (incl. EN and PS goals): 244 for / 286 against: -42
- Shots: 2599 for / 2485 against: +114
- Even Strength SH%: 8.7%
- Even Strength SV%: 0.898
- Hits: 1764
- Faceoff Percentage: 50.1%
09-10 Projection: 6 – 44 – 32
- Even Strength Goals: 95 for / 202 against: -107
- Power Play Goals: 95 for / 0 against: +95
- Short Handed Goals: 6 for / 107 against: -101
- Totals (incl. EN and PS goals): 196 for / 322 against: -126
- Shots: 2747 for / 2476 against: +271
- Even Strength SH%: 4.8%
- Even Strength SV%: 0.889
- Hits: 1861
- Faceoff Percentage: 49.1%
The Percentages Scare Me
So, this year’s edition of the Toronto Maple Leafs hits more, shoots more, and prevents opposition shots better. Their special teams, as a whole, are much better on the season than last year’s minus-17 group (they’re projected to be -6 at their current pace). Why, then, are they on pace for a six-win season?
Two things: shooting percentage and save percentage. Last year’s worst team (The Rangers) fired at a 7.5% clip; these Leafs are down underneath the 5% mark. It won’t continue. It can’t possibly continue. 7% has really been the floor over the last few years, and even that’s assuming that the Leafs are the worst offensive team in the NHL. They aren’t, and things will turn around.
Save percentage is an interesting one, though. The Leafs moved to beef up their defense this off-season, but the fact of the matter may simply be that Vesa Toskala isn’t a very good goaltender. Jonas Gustavsson may or may not be better; he’s still a question mark at the major-league level. In short, there’s a possibility that the Leaf’s save percentage might be for real, and it’s a scary one.
Either way, the team is bound to improve, and by a fair bit. But the hole they’ve dug for themselves may be too deep to overcome this season.