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Low shots? No problem; Leafs keep roll going vs. Flames

Oct 30, 2013, 11:12 PM EDT

happyleafs Getty Images

As Jason Brough noted earlier today, the Toronto Maple Leafs have defied stats expectations by winning more often than not despite frequently being out-shot by opponents. Wednesday was a glaring example, as the Leafs beat the Flames 4-2 despite Calgary nearly doubling them up in that category.

The Flames fired 43 shots on goal to Toronto’s 22. In fact, the Flames almost had as many shots on goal in the second period (20) as the Buds had in the entire contest.

Goaltending and quality shooting – or puck luck, depending upon how you see it – keep going the Leafs’ way. Jonathan Bernier held serve after James Reimer‘s shutout while Joffrey Lupul, Mason Raymond and James van Riemsdyk scored for Toronto (Paul Ranger got an empty-netter, too).

The Maple Leafs keep chugging along, drawing the line deeper in the sand between believers and those who expect Toronto to regress (while stats-inclined Leafs fans might feel conflicted).

With an Eastern Conference-leading 20 points (10-4-0 in 14 games played), Toronto has a nice head start, so perhaps a playoff berth may be in the cards even if they come back down to Earth.

  1. nothanksimdriving123 - Oct 30, 2013 at 11:44 PM

    Stats that are sometimes interesting: Shots, face-offs, hits, penalties, fights.
    Stat that is always interesting: goals.

  2. blomfeld - Oct 31, 2013 at 12:19 AM

    Counsel for the Truth: might I enquire as to who ‘exactly’ was playing goal tonight for the Leafs ?

    Witness A: well that was none other than comrade Bernier !

    Counsel for the Truth: and are you of the opinion that his presence ‘might’ be helping their cause ?

    Witness A: well looky here friend, do fish like water ?

    Witness B: that’s right ! … and he came from them LA Kings !

    Witness C: all I know is that them LA Kings sure is ‘good’ people !

    Judge: very well then, the court finds all Bernier detractors ‘guilty’ as charged …

    Counsel for the Truth: thank you your honor …

    Judge: you’ve got it Pontiac ! :)

  3. davebabychreturns - Oct 31, 2013 at 9:10 AM

    The Minnesota Wild were leading the league as late as December in the 2011-12 season (and ended the season with a top 10 draft pick) so until the Leaves manage better than that I don’t really see them as “defying” the advanced stats folks by any real stretch of the imagination.

    • withseidelinn - Oct 31, 2013 at 9:54 AM

      Well that’s irrelevant since it’s a completely different team and a completely different season. The Leafs had the same poor numbers in the same statistical categories last year and they still made the playoffs, not to mention taking the B’s to 7 games. You’re comparing two completely different teams that have different playing styles and coaching tactics.

      • davebabychreturns - Oct 31, 2013 at 10:49 AM

        And the Leafs winning percentage declined as the season went on last year, over another 30+ games they probably still get into the playoffs but not in the 5th seed. As for taking Boston to seven games, congrats. Canucks did that too but for some reason it just doesn’t feel that satisfying and you’ll find nobody else is very impressed by it.

        (As for the Wild my point isn’t about the Leafs specific strategy, so much as it is about the fact that we’ve seen a team’s fanbase claiming that they can outrun the percentages indefinitely, and we saw how it worked out.)

        I guess my point is that I don’t think the claims that the Leafs have “beat” advanced stats or reinvented the wheel in terms of how to win a hockey game (ie. beat out your opponent in puck battles, possess it more often, take more shots, etc) don’t hold much water at this point.

        Maybe the Leafs get elite goaltending all season long and maybe they continue to score on historically high percentages of their shots, I wouldn’t hitch my wagon to both of those outcomes personally but if you want to do that feel free.

  4. dueman - Oct 31, 2013 at 11:06 AM

    Just how long is it going to take the media to figure out that Toronto will let teams shoot from the perimeter all day long. This has been the way they have played since Carlyle took over. When the Leafs have the puck they don’t just fire it at the net, but instead try to create a scoring chance. This is why they score so many goals, and also why their shooting percentages are so high. How can anybody be surprised about this after they played this way the entire season last year? To all the stat nerds out there, you should get your heads out of the stat sheets and just try watching the games instead! Things might make more sense if you do.

    I’ve said this many times before that advance statistics mean nothing in hockey. The game is too fast, and there are far too many variables at play to accurately predict anything. This is a game where team chemistry and sheer will mean more than anything else, and there are no stats that represent either! This is why teams have scouts, and interview players to see what kind of people they are, rather than just drafting from a stats sheet.

    • blomfeld - Oct 31, 2013 at 11:37 AM

      Dueman – well put friend … I also get sick & tired of all this ‘statistical’ crap ! … for the truth is that with any endeavor in life, be it hockey or just completing a job at hand, it’s the ‘heart’ which must lead the way forward, not that which has gone before … and therefore the days of these Kings haters and their cowardly denials are over ! … victory will be ‘ours’ again, just as sure as the sun rises in the morning ! :)

      GO KINGS GO !!! … TODAY, TOMORROW AND FOREVER !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • withseidelinn - Oct 31, 2013 at 11:50 AM

      Something nobody else seems to take into account. Good comment

  5. earpaniac - Oct 31, 2013 at 12:09 PM

    As a Hawk fan, I think you have to credit Bolland for their success. Lol Kidding! I have a hard time believing they can keep getting outshot by that much and keep up this pace. I don’t watch every one of their games, so I’ll take your word on the perimeter shots. That being said, the more shots you take, the more that have a chance to go in.
    It’s also usually true the more shots you have, the more time you spend in your opponents zone. For Leaf fans, has this been true of the a leafs this year?

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