Welcome to the first of (at least) 82 Toronto Maple Leafs statistical recaps. The intent of these posts is to provide sober second thought the following morning after Leafs games, providing microstatistic data like zone entries, zone exits, and scoring chance setups that you would not get on a traditional boxscore.
These posts will be free through October and, after then, I will stick them behind a paywall (I haven’t decided how much yet, that will be based on their popularity). Please bear with me as I work through formatting, as well. My preparation for this season was hockey-related, not WordPress-related.
We will start with Wednesday night’s loss to the Montreal Canadiens. It wasn’t a great beginning to the season offensively. My tracked data, and thoughts, are after the jump.
5v5 Team Stats
The first thing I look at when analyzing a game is the entry differential: essentially, the number of attempted entries by one team versus the other team. I find it provides a lot of clarity into how the game went.
We see that the Leafs out-attempted the Canadiens 86-70. Both teams entered with control at a very high clip–it didn’t seem to me like it was a very open game, but we’ll get into offensive zone play slightly below.
We can also see that both teams recovered a high percentage of dump-ins. I’m counting dump-in recoveries this season differently than I have in the past, so we’ll see how that stabilizes.
Either way, the Leafs pretty clearly handled the neutral zone here, though their defence was suspect: both in terms of allowing Montreal a high percentage of controlled entries against, and allowing them to recover a lot of shoot-ins.
Shots and scoring chances
While the Leafs may have done well in the neutral zone, we can see that they struggled to generate much in the offensive zone. While they had 51 shot attempts (this includes shots that are “broken up” by the opposition and thus not taken) to Montreal’s 39, the shots on goal were quite close at 5v5, just 25-22. The scoring chances were also very similar, at 15-13.
Exits and DZ touches
This here tells us a similar story to the “entries” tab. Both teams exited the DZ effectively, although Montreal had to do it a little more often than Toronto. This was probably the biggest missed opportunity for the Leafs, in that they were facing a very green defensive group and didn’t really make life difficult for them to move around.
I’ll also be counting turnovers this season. In 159 DZ touches, the Habs commit just 18 turnovers, despite, as mentioned, their really young (and not good) defensive group. In fact, the Leafs D commit more turnovers than the Habs, on slightly fewer touches.
5v5 Individual Stats
Here we get into the real meat of the operation, as we get to see which players pushed the play forward the most. Some thoughts on the Leafs:
- Pierre Engvall had a monster night. I recorded him having 9 controlled entries on 13 touches: 6 carry-ins and 3 entry passes. Another thing worth noting is that many of these entries came directly up the middle. Of his 6 carry-ins, 5 were between the dots. Sometimes Engvall will have nights where he just goes nuts and is all over the puck, and we saw it in this game.
- The top line really struggled. Matthews’ 7 entry attempts was tied for 2nd among Leaf forwards, but he had 3 failed entries (read: turnovers at the offensive blue line) and I didn’t really feel like he ever got much going. The Habs seem to have a way to defend Matthews and Marner, and thankfully for the Leafs, other teams haven’t seemed to get the formula.
- Good nights for Kerfoot and Malgin, as well.
- It’s less impressive all around, particularly since the Habs didn’t have as much volume. But their top line out-gained the Leafs top line, with 10 controlled entries on 18 attempts, compared to 7 on 16.
- Rough debut for Kirby Dach in Montreal colours, with 0 controlled entries and 3 failed entries on his 5 attempts. Can’t say I really noticed much of him outside of that one wraparound attempt in the 2nd period.
- Slafkovsky had some moments. His two controlled entries came in short succession in the second period, both neat passes to his right to facilitate an entry. But he didn’t really touch the puck much after that, and had just 3 shifts in the third period.
Zone entry defence
- Muzzin and Holl are going to get a little bit of grief for how the game ended, but they were the best two Leafs defensively, keeping the Habs from gaining the blue line with control. This is probably going to be a recurring theme this season.
- Everybody else was pretty poor. I doubt that really continues, as this tends to be a strength for the team in general. But Montreal seemed to move the puck with ease, particularly against that top pair.
- To my eye, Harris was the only Montreal D I liked, and, while he gave up the line a game-high 10 times, that was also on a game-high 16 targets. The Leafs really kept the puck towards his side of the ice.
BrendanKaiden Guhle had a decent debut, forcing 4 failed entries on 11 targets against him. He was definitely the strongest of the two players on his pairing, and had a pretty good night defending, all in all.
- Rough outings for both Savard and Xhekaj. I highly doubt Xhekaj is still around when the Leafs play Montreal next.
Shots and scoring chances
- Here, we can see just how little Toronto gained from their top line: five shots were recorded as scoring chances, two of which were set up by Marner. That’s tied with the Montreal top line, and given both the zone time advantage, the talent advantage, and how much better Toronto ought to be, that’s not good enough.
- Engvall had a strong night offensively. 4 of his 5 shots qualified as scoring chances, both numbers were team-highs among forwards (let’s hand wave the muffins Muzzin was throwing from the point).
- John Tavares had a team-high 3 scoring chance setups. All 3 were shots taken by Nylander (including the tying goal).
- This was Cole Caufield’s night. He had 7 shots, a game-high among forwards, and 3 were scoring chances. More importantly (probably, somebody counts these things) 2 were goals. He also set up two scoring chances in the first period, though both were to defencemen (Harris and Kovacevic).
- Outside of the Montreal top line (and Monahan, who had a very competent night), they didn’t generate a whole lot.
Exits and DZ touches
- Tavares probably had the best all-around night for Toronto once you take into account his playmaking and ability to break the puck out of the DZ. I counted him having 6 touches in the DZ, 5 of them immediately led to controlled exits by the Leafs.
- Only 4 turnovers from forwards, three of which were from Aube-Kubel, on just 8 DZ touches. I didn’t think he looked very comfortable. It’s a brand-new line.
- Half the Leafs D recorded at least 3 turnovers. Muzzin made a 4th, which turned out to be the difference in the end. Still, he and Holl were largely fine together, with Holl having a very good night breaking the puck out, with 5 controlled exits on 6 attempts.
- Finally, here’s where you can point to your friends and tell them you KNEW that the Leafs were right for passing on Guhle at the draft. While Montreal was generally fine with the puck (especially Arber Xhekaj), Guhle commit 5 turnovers on 25 touches. I thought he was fighting it all night, and when he wasn’t turning the puck over, he was sending passes to his teammates in bad spots, resulting in having to keep defending.
- I thought Mike Hoffman looked abnormally quick last night, and it wasn’t until I looked at this table that I confirmed it.
So, this concludes the first data dump of the new season. I hope you found something informative in here. I’m not a huge fan of website comments, so if you have suggestions, notes on what you liked or didn’t like, kindly get at me on Twitter @camcharronyvr, or send me an email email@example.com.