November 29, 2007

Sobering Statistics

Tim Wharnsby, one of the good folks at, posted some sobering statistics documenting the Maple Leafs’ early-season struggles. I said I’d wait 20 games until I passed judgment on the Leafs and, like Wharnsby says, the numbers never lie.
I’m not going to talk much about the stuff we already know. The Leafs can score goals, although the well has begun to dry a little, and they can’t keep the puck out of their own net - they’re dead last in goals against (3.42 a game—yikes!). The power play and penalty kill are both below the league average.

It’s the other statistics that really blow the mind. Check yourself before you wreck yourself:

The Maple Leafs’ winning percentage when scoring the first goal of the game is 40%, good for dead last in the league. The league average is 70.76%. That’s a big drop-off compared with the rest of the league. Scoring first clearly means something to most teams, but not to the boys in blue and white. It doesn’t matter if they score first because they can’t play with a lead. When they do score the first goal, they give it right back, and usually on the next shift.

The opposition has scored the first goal of the game against the Leafs 15 times, good for 26th in the league. Toronto isn’t far away from dead last in this category, either, as another member of the NHL fraternity, whom Wharnsby does not identify, has been scored upon first 16 times. Toronto, one would deduce, is not prepared to start (or finish) their games and preparation – motivating the troops to come out and play hard and fast – comes from, in my opinion, Paul Maurice and company.

Toronto’s winning percentage when leading after the first period is a brutal 16.7%, good for – yep, you guessed it – last in the league. I hate to point out the obvious, but anyone seeing a pattern here? The league average winning percentage when leading after the first period is a whopping 74.88%, as it should be. Most teams know how to play with a lead. Not our boys. This is a frightening statistic that shows systematic flaws in Toronto’s game.

There’s one more. Toronto’s winning percentage when leading after the second period is a pathetic 50%, good for (do I even have to say it?) dead last in the NHL. The league average winning percentage when leading after two periods is 87.29%. For most teams a lead going into the third period is, as the numbers show, money in the bank. For the Toronto Maple Leafs, it’s a freaking coin toss.

Wharnsby is wise. The numbers don’t lie, and they’re telling me, and you, that the Leafs are an awful team.

I wonder what Paul Maurice would have to say to these sobering statistics. They’d probably have him reaching for the bottle. And I wouldn’t blame him one bit.

Stop the insanity. Fire Maurice.