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The Leafs keep getting outshot…and keep winning

Oct 30, 2013, 2:16 PM EDT

Leafs score Getty Images

The Toronto Maple Leafs are showing the NHL what goaltending, special teams, and sharp-shooting can do for a team.

Last night in Edmonton, the Leafs were outshot for the 10th straight game. In 13 games total this season, they’ve been outshot 11 times.

The Leafs are also 9-4-0, first place in the Eastern Conference. They beat the Oilers, 4-0, last night despite a 43-26 disparity in shots.

Generally, a team that gets outshot on a regular basis, particularly when the score is close, loses more than it wins. For current examples of that, see the Sabres, Flyers, Capitals, Jets and Oilers.

So how are the Leafs doing it?

— Goaltending. James Reimer and Jonathan Bernier have combined for a team save percentage of .935, tied for fourth in the NHL. (Colorado leads at .955.)

— Special teams. A 2nd-ranked power play (26.1%) and 4th-ranked penalty kill (85.4%).

— Sharp-shooting. Led by sniper Phil Kessel, no team has scored on a higher percentage of its shots (12.4%) than the Leafs. (For more on that, read this.)

The question going forward is, can Toronto keep winning the same way? Or, as the stats guys put it, is what the Leafs are doing sustainable?

We don’t pretend to have that answer for you, so you’ll just have to watch. Toronto is in Calgary tonight and Vancouver Saturday.

Related: Lightning coach can’t believe the Wild lost to the Leafs either

  1. newjerseydevilsfanpuckcollection - Oct 30, 2013 at 2:23 PM

    If they can keep the PK and PP in the top 5 in the league it will help them in the long run. If you are sitting in lower than 16th in the league in both those categories….typically it means you WILL miss the playoffs.

  2. bmscalise - Oct 30, 2013 at 2:24 PM

    Funny – the Pens have been outshooting opponents (significantly) and losing (recently anyway). Part of the Pens problem is injuries and subsequent major loss of scoring depth. But their situation makes me pretty convinced that #2 is the most important: the Pens special teams, both PK and PP, has ranged from abysmal to sorta crummy. I haven’t watched much of the Leafs this season – but with special teams that strong, you are going to win games, outshot or not.

  3. Lupy Nazty Philthy - Oct 30, 2013 at 3:17 PM

    So tired of this “story”. When will people learn Shot Quantity does NOT equal Shot Quality. The Leafs have been doing a great job of clogging the middle of the ice, especially in front of the net, forcing teams to just get the puck on net. They aren’t big scoring chances, especially with goalies like Reimer in Bernier in net.

    • Jason Brough - Oct 30, 2013 at 3:36 PM

      So if somebody wrote an article arguing that Bernier and Reimer have just been sitting back making easy saves all season, you’d be fine with that?

      • andrewsabourin13 - Oct 30, 2013 at 4:35 PM

        I’d be fine with more articles on Phil Kessel

      • Lupy Nazty Philthy - Oct 30, 2013 at 7:41 PM

        How many hard saves Reimer and Bernier have to make vs how many the Leafs opponents have to make would be a great article. Feel free to delve into the numbers.

        Do you really think “Shots on goal” and “Scoring chances” are the same thing? There’s been games this year where the Leafs have been outplayed, but last night vs the Oilers was not one of them.

        It’s easy to tell which writers watch the actual games and which ones watch the box scores.

      • Jason Brough - Oct 30, 2013 at 9:31 PM

        Watched the game, thanks. Was very entertaining, especially the first period. And how ’bout all those Leafs fans in the rink! They sure were loud.
        The post is about the trend; not one game.

  4. channelguy - Oct 30, 2013 at 3:47 PM

    The shots on goal total in this game is misleading anyway, The first two periods, when Toronto built up a 3-0 lead, the shots on goal were close, but as others have said, the Leafs had BETTER chances.

    In the third period, with the Leafs’ firepower concentrated on one line because of an injury, and with a game the next night in Calgary, the Leafs big line played very little (but still scored again) and the 3rd and 4th lines saw a lot more ice time. So they played defense most of the period, and the Oiler shot total went up.

    Over the whole SEASON, the questions raised by this article are legit. But this game was a poor example to use.

    • Jason Brough - Oct 30, 2013 at 3:52 PM

      The third period skewed the shot total, yes. However, there were still important elements of the overall trend in the game, specifically good goaltending and sharp shooting.

      • borderline1988 - Oct 30, 2013 at 4:22 PM

        There are a lot of shots, but the Leafs have been doing a fantastic job at controlling rebounds and pushing opposing forwards out of the blue ice. They’ve received fantastic goaltending, but give the Leafs credit for giving their goalies the chance to look great.

        There are 3 areas they need to improve on to get better control of shot disparities and overall puck possession:
        a) Stop giving away the puck in the neutral zone. If a rush isn’t working out, send the puck deep so your defense can get set.
        b) Do a better job of cycling the puck. The Leafs are perhaps the best team in the NHL on the rush, but theire top-6 forwards get bullied off pucks to easily in the offensive zone.
        c) Win some damn faceoffs.

  5. andrewsabourin13 - Oct 30, 2013 at 4:31 PM

    Kessel 4 Prez

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Oct 30, 2013 at 5:38 PM

      Andrew, not to be picky, but when did you have in mind? He’ll not turn 35 until 2022.

  6. nothanksimdriving123 - Oct 30, 2013 at 10:56 PM

    And outshot again Wednesday, and another win! GLG!

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