Quite often, in fact, a reader of a post I write adds quality information that I had not considered. I often note how much I appreciate the readers of my posts and their contributions to what I write. And I do appreciate the conversation that ensues.
Recently that happened after the Toronto Maple Leafs lost 3-1 to the New York Rangers. A reader who uses the “handle” D-Rock extended my note about the Maple Leafs’ loss. I noted in my post that, when two quality teams collided, sometimes the other team won.
The Maple Leafs Record Against Quality (Top-10) Teams
Accepting D-Rock’s research as accurate, let me share what was written. D-Rock went to the season’s schedule to look up how well the Maple Leafs did against quality teams. D-Rock noted that it seemed that the team has played a lot of quality teams this season. Thanks to hockeyreference.com, here’s what D-Rock found out.
Thus far, the Maple Leafs have played 14 of their 32 games against another Top-10 team based on the NHL standings. At the time of the research, the rest of the Top-10 included: the Boston Bruins, New Jersey Devils, Vegas Golden Knights, Dallas Stars, Carolina Hurricanes, Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Winnipeg Jets, and the New York Rangers. The Maple Leafs’ record against these teams is 8-3-3. Our .679 points percentage trails only Boston.
Other NHL Team’s Record Against Top-10 Teams
At the time of the research (before Saturday’s games), Winnipeg and Dallas had faced Top-10 teams 10 times each. Those two teams were followed by Boston, Pittsburgh, and Vegas (nine times each), the Rangers (eight times), Tampa Bay (seven times), and New Jersey and Carolina (five times each).
The records in winning percentage were New Jersey (.500), Winnipeg (.450), Tampa Bay (.357), and Dallas (.350) have the worst points percentage. Tampa Bay and Carolina have yet to beat another Top-10 team in regulation. New Jersey’s only done so once. In contrast, seven of the eight Maple Leafs’ wins have been in regulation.
Even including goals against in what D-Rock calls “circus time” (i.e. overtime) the Maple Leafs have an average of 2.14 goals against in these 14 games, which is tops among other Top-10 teams. (The only team even close is Boston at 2.33, and the rest of the teams range from 2.88 to 4.00.)
Goals Allowed Against Top-10 Teams
As D-Rock’s research notes, the Maple Leafs have played more Top-10 teams than any other highly-ranked (Top-10) NHL team. They’ve allowed the fewest goals and have the second-best winning percentage. And, as D-Rock wisely points out, the team has done it while missing its top three defensemen and top two goalies for many of these games.
What this means for D-Rock (and I agree) is that often Maple Leafs’ naysayers point out that the regular season isn’t the playoffs. However, the teams the Maple Leafs are beating right now are exactly the teams that have the best chance of being in the playoffs.
As a result, the success the Maple Leafs are having against Top-10 teams seems to suggest that this team is up to the task.
Thank you D-Rock for your research and ideas.