Oh no, they did it again.
There are a lot of things I had an idea to write about in a preamble. One is I have a theory that bad teams get up to play the Leafs because there are only so many games you can really care about (games against the Canucks, especially in Vancouver, were always special to me). Two, say what you will about the Leafs playing down to their opponents and what that says about their effort level, but the Leafs played at a 110-point pace against playoff teams last season (tops in the NHL) and 119 against non-playoff teams (12th). The team most similar to that would be the Carolina Hurricanes (109 pts/82 against playoff teams and 122 pts/82 against non-playoff teams) who are a lot of things, but I don’t know if their effort level gets questioned to the degree the Leafs do.
But… it’s late, and this is the second of two games I tracked and typed up a postgame report for. I’ll keep a few bullets for later on in the season when I may need them.
I can also promise you, once we get to the stats, that there is nothing absolving Justin Holl of a poor game here. While I’m normally a Holl fan, he had a poor game, and that will be reflected in the microstatistics.
I am also changing up the order a little bit.
5v5 team stats
Shots and scoring chances
Toronto dominated the territorial play, out-attempting Arizona 53-29 at 5v5 but… pretty much all of the Coyotes shots were scoring chances and the Leafs’ weren’t. I’ve always found that scoring chances are more resistant to score effects in a way that corsi isn’t.
Another thing I want to focus on is the fact that, of the 43 shots the Leafs got off at 5v5, only 23 hit the net. The Coyotes were really trying hard to protect the front of the net and got away with it, partially because the Leafs missed a lot of point blank chances as well. We also saw a game-high 4 would-be chances swatted away from the front of the net by Karel Vejmelka himself, protecting the pipes AND protecting his crease.
Let’s see how this broke down individually:
- Unlike the first three games of the season, the Leafs didn’t really generate anything off the first line. Bunting-Matthews-Marner had a good night, even if they weren’t rewarded with a goal on the ice together, but they were clearly the Leafs best line and combined for 15 shots worth 7 chances.
- The rest of the forwards… not so much. The rest of the forwards took just 8 shots worth 3 chances. This is the first time we’ve seen a true clunker from multiple lines this season.
- It was also a bit of a clunker from Arizona’s side. Despite a few good chances, the 5th-best team in 5v5 Sh% last season managed just the one 5v5 goal, when Christian Fischer was left alone in front of the net.
- Bjugstad, Ritchie, and Maccelli all set up multiple scoring chances. The first two names are familiar to casual hockey fans, but Matias Maccelli might not be. As a 21-year-old rookie last season, he had a replacement-level points rate of 1.1 P/60, but he also had 57 points in 47 games with the Tucson Roadrunners of the AHL. That was behind only Jack Quinn in U-24 scoring in that league (minimum 20 games).
The table tells us what we should expect: entry differential dominance from a good trailing team against a bad leading team. The Coyotes sent virtually no forecheckers after the Leafs in the third period, though they did a good job of stacking the line and preventing them from entering with any sort of speed.
The Leafs entered the OZ with control 42% of the time in the first period, just 17% of the time in the second period (the second is usually a little more open due to the long change) and a staggering 14% in the third period. The Coyotes just parked the bus and succeeded, thanks partially to a baffling Situation Room call that took a second equalizing goal off the board.
This shell prevented the Leafs from entering with speed, which prevented the Leafs from taking good shots off the rush, which are shots I categorize as scoring chances. They also turned the puck over at the offensive blueline far too often.
Also, defensively, you can see the Coyotes recovered 62% of their dump-ins. Keep that in mind for later.
Here’s how it broke down individually:
- The first line survived on volume more than anything, since the line created just 5 controlled entries. That was still the most of any line on the team, however.
- The real winner here today was Giordano, who had a few adventures with the puck in the DZ but he moved the puck well offensively, or better than anybody else on the Leafs.
- After three good games to start the season, this was a true clunker for Tavares. Not only did he fail to enter with control on any of his attempts, he also turned it over 4 times, so his teammates didn’t have the chance to even go after a puck and retrieve it. Engvall, also, had a very bad game in this regard, with 0 controlled entries on 6 attempts, and 3 failed entries.
- Remember the name Matias Maccelli. Be the first among your friends to know exactly who this kid is. As you’re all hanging out together prior to the rematch at Mullett Arena on December 29th, declare that “the Leafs should be fine if they can contain Matias Maccelli”.
- Like I said, Holl didn’t have a very good game. As I am a Holl fan second and a scientist first, I will never shy away from declaring when he had a poor game, which he did Monday night. He allowed 6 controlled entries against on 9 targets and forced 0 failed entries, and it gets a little bit worse in the next section.
- 4 of the 6 failed entries forced by Stecher were dump-in attempts that may have simply hit him accidentally, so I don’t know how much we can read into his big night (especially since he had a game-low 17% corsi). He also broke up, on consecutive shifts, Giordano and Tavares stretch pass entry attempts, so there were some good defensive plays captured in there.
- There was nobody the Leafs had a lot of success against. They couldn’t make their way around Gostisbehere, who isn’t exactly known for his stellar defensive work.
Exits and DZ touches
Both teams were turnover happy Monday night, with the Leafs D turning it over 7 times on just 46 touches (15%) and the Coyotes D doing so 9 times on 61 touches (also 15%). At one point the Sportsnet crew praised the Coyotes for making life difficult on the Leafs D and causing a bit of chaos. That was a true sentiment, but it was also true for the Leafs in Arizona’s end.
I do happen to assign credit to a player for “forcing” a turnover, so here’s an opportunity to praise Tavares, who forced a game-high 5 turnovers.
Otherwise, the zone exits are what you’d expect. The Coyotes were in a bit of a shell and spent most of the third period clearing the puck out of danger. The Leafs had a high exit percentage despite the fact I do not count “free” exits in here (i.e: when a defender clears the zone without any opposition), and the Coyotes were all too happy to let the Leafs skate the puck out and into their wall, particularly late.
How did this look individually?
- Holl was just bad in all aspects, and maybe if he turned the puck over 4 times on 9 touches every night (with 0 exits), he’d deserve a little bit of the abuse he seems to generate on Twitter. Thankfully, he is not normally that player, so I’m happy to write the whole night off for him and burn the tape. This table doesn’t count the turnovers that Giordano and Holl made on the PK in succession leading to the winning goal against.
- No Leafs had a very high number of controlled exits, but closer observation shows that the Leafs didn’t really have to exit the zone much, which is a bit of a rarity. The Coyotes had just 42 non-failed entries (I’d say we should expect teams to get around 70-80 in a “normal” game) so there weren’t a lot of pucks to go around.
- Giordano, who entered the OZ well, also made some good exits from his DZ and kept the needle moving the right way.
- By contrast, the Coyotes had to get the puck out of their DZ a little bit more, and they had a few more players with 3+ controlled exits than the Leafs, including Josh Brown, who I don’t normally think of as a puck carrier, and Matias Maccelli, who had a very good game in all aspects.
- The Coyotes turnover numbers were spread around a little bit, indicating that the Leafs were able to cause a little bit of chaos against just about everybody.
Thank you for reading. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. So far, the reception on these posts has been excellent and I’ve received a few thought-provoking emails that may lend itself to some future research projects.
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