Toronto Maple Leafs 4 at Minnesota Wild 3 – 2022-11-25 recap

Okay, this is from the Black Friday game. I’m a few days behind on tracking but here’s something to tide you over while I work on the Penguins game.

This was a very good game played by the Maple Leafs. I don’t know how good the Wild are. I’ve only seen them closely twice this season, but given the circumstances, with a matinee road game against an opponent that was pretty strong last season, the Leafs put together good performances both offensively and defensively to beat the Wild.

I think we’ve seen this a little bit with the Leafs: the shot attempts are even or below even, but the scoring chances are well in the favour of the team in blue and white. Even Natural Stat Trick, using the best public data that gets released and can’t take into account puck movement and defensive pressure had the Leafs getting out-attempted 48-43, but winning the scoring chance battle 21-17 and the expected goals 2.3-1.6. I had it a little more tilted in favour of Toronto, with the chances at 17-11.

Now, I’m writing this knowing full well the result of the Leafs following game against Pittsburgh (which I am working on and will have up later today, before puck drop for the Wings game hopefully) but they’re inching closer to that “elite team” status that I’d declared they lost in the game against New Jersey. The team defence is clearly a point in favour, despite losing TJ Brodie, the team’s top defensive defenceman, for this road trip, they’ve given up very little and have still managed to transition the puck well-enough to get some offence going.

In this game, they won the scoring chance battle everywhere except in offensive zone faceoff situations, and are working that cycle game to a point where they turn long stretches of zone time into tangible scoring chances rather than outside point shots.

They didn’t win this game by much, got a big performance from Matt Murray, and allowed Minnesota’s best player to carve the defence through the neutral zone, but I was impressed at how much the Leafs were able to lay it on late. In the third period when leading by a goal, the Leafs still out-chanced the Wild 5-1 at 5v5.

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