Okay, I think we have to pump the brakes just a little bit on this being among the best goaltending performances of all-time.
For the record, I think Matt Murray has been a pretty good goalie for the Leafs this season. I have him with an 88.1% Sv% on scoring chances, the best of the goalies I regularly track (average is 82.9%), and he’s also 89.2% on shots in close (average 78.1%).
There’s probably room for Murray to regress a little. He’s been fantastic, and I don’t think anybody reasonable expects Murray to continue this run.
That said, I also don’t think that the Stars really took the Leafs defence to the woodshed in Texas last night. There were some score effects-induced sequences that resulted in Murray having to stand his ground a little stronger than normal, plus a lengthy 5v3 that resulted in possibly Murray’s best sequence on the season, but I don’t believe for a moment it was one of the best performances of all-time, as indicated by a few public expected goals models.
The scorekeeping in Dallas seemed a bit wonky to me. I had the shots (all situations) at 38-26 for Dallas, while the NHL had them 44-29. Natural Stat Trick had the scoring chances at 25-22 at 5v5, which was probably closer to telling the story, since mine were 16-15. There were a lot of hopeful attempts by Dallas, a few extra whacks in close counted as shots, and I think activity around the Leafs net was pretty tame compared to some nights I’ve seen.
Again, this isn’t to discount Murray’s play or suggest the Leafs were full value for a shutout win in Dallas. But I dispute, having re-watched this game with a bit of a level head earlier today, that this was a Matt Murray-induced win. I think the Leafs were full value for the win and while Murray played well, had he played average, the Leafs probably still pull out a 4-2 win.
Was Murray the Leafs best player? Also debateable to me. Auston Matthews had an incredible game, the type of game I haven’t really seen out of him this season that he had with regularity last season when he was the MVP. He had 4 scoring chances at 5v5, set up 2 more at 5v4, and had 6 controlled entries. We can also give props to Mark Giordano, who not only managed the puck well in his own end, but forced 3 failed Dallas entries and allowed a single scoring chance against on 9 entry attempts against him. He also seemed to have a stick in the way on every Dallas chance he was on the ice for.
When a shot is taken, it isn’t only a battle between the shooter and the goalie at that point. There are still multiple things a defensive player or team can do to force that shot from going in. A rushed shot won’t be as powerful or accurate. Preventing a cross-seam pass (or any pass) or anything to let the shooter change the angle is going to allow the goalie to be set when the shot is released. These things don’t show up in the usual stat sheet, but they’re things that the Leafs are quite good at and a lot of teams aren’t.
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