"I knew this was a strong team when I signed here, but I'm surprised with how well we've played.The Leafs actually held onto their third period lead last night and beat the defending champs.
"I don't know if we're going to play like this all year, but it's pretty easy to win when you're scoring six or eight goals a game. I'm amazed with how well we play offensively and defensively."
That being said, winning one game isn't going to stop the hometown papers from printing things columns like the following:
We shouldn't give Gross too much credit for his critical analyis - it's like shooting fish in a barrel.
The best category for the Buds as a team is the power play percentage, in which they were ranked second in the league. However, if you remove their blowout win over the Atlanta Thrashers from the mix, the Leafs would be out of the top 10.
The Leafs ranked 10th in goals scored per game and tied for 14th in goals allowed per game. The team is a negative combined statistic in those two categories. In contrast, 13 teams have a positive combined statistic in the goals per game categories. Again, removing the Atlanta game would drop the Buds even lower in both categories and widen the negative margin.
The Leafs were a dismal 26th in total shots per game and an equally dismal
22nd in shots allowed per game. On average, the team was giving up six more shots per game to its opponents than it generated.
Everyone is aware of the worst statistic for the team -- its five-on-five record. It is with good reason that everyone is concerned because the team was ranked near the bottom (27th).
The early season bright star, Bryan McCabe, was, at one time, tied for first in the NHL scoring race with 15 points. However, that was several games ago and McCabe (before yesterday) still had 15 points and had fallen into a tie for 24th place with 10 other players. However, out of 232 defencemen to play so far this year, only SIX had a worse plus/minus than McCabe's -6.
While the top defensive pair of McCabe and Kaberle is generating lots of points (24), they are a combined minus-9, the lowest combined total in the NHL for a team's top pairing.