Let’s start by subverting audience expectations:
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Betteridge’s law of headlines is an adage that states: “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.”
Unfortunately, few things are that simple in hockey.
First, if you read my post yesterday, you’d know that being unable to stream games means I can’t plausibly write game recaps anymore in a timely manner. That may work out to be a blessing, since I felt they were getting pretty repetitive anyway, and I have enough tracked data to also do some pretty fun stuff with the data.
Additionally, I’ve found an alternate way to get my hands on some game videos after they’re completed, so I’ll probably still be tracking games, but not on the same schedule that I was previously. I really do thank all of you that reached out after I ranted on Twitter. I had a lot of emails and messages from people that were offering me many different ways to stream. I’m honestly very touched that I got so many responses and people wanting to help, and that made me feel that, as segmented and niche as my audience is, there’s a real appetite for the stuff I do.
And that brings me to today’s post, which goes up in response to a tweet (I promised myself I’d never do this) from old Pension Plan Puppets pal @b1rky:
Now, seven games isn’t a very big sample size, but ten games is, and Brad from Natural Stat Trick helps us show that this isn’t just a 7-game trend, this is a 10-game trend:
Seven games of mediocre play is probably something that’s happened, but this is the first ten-game stretch wherein the team’s expected goal percentage, as calculated by Brad at Natural Stat Trick, has dipped below 50%. Brad went on to contextualize the dip, that this is not something foreign to even good teams. It’s a long season, and everybody is prone to bad stretches. What does make it notable is the timing, how this has synced up with the trade deadline.
And, naturally, the volume is going to go up a little in Toronto. The prized acquisition from Kyle Dubas’ series of trades in late February, Ryan O’Reilly, is out with a broken finger until the playoffs in all likelihood. Rasmus Sandin has become a PDO God in Washington, and Pierre Engvall has goals in three consecutive games. I didn’t have the time to really get into why each deal was made (those trades were made the same day my partner spent most of it in the emergency room, so my mind was elsewhere) but I do know that Leafs Nation, always passionate, is quick to second-guess every move based on immediate returns.
So, the Leafs being a little worse offensively is something to take note of. Rather than bore you with shot attempts and scoring chances though, I want to look into the on-ice mechanisms that have seen the Leafs take fewer shots and lower quality shots.
Now, unfortunately, there are three games since the McCabe trade that I haven’t been able to track (at Edmonton, at Calgary, vs. Colorado), but I will use data from 7 of the last 10 games, covering the first stretch of games all season where the Leafs xGF% has fallen below 50%.
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