Toronto Maple Leafs Will not Win With out Nice Goaltending

The Toronto Maple Leafs have hit a tough patch not too long ago, sputtering alongside at 1-5-0 over their final six outings. However even with the latest skid, they sit first within the North Division after 30 video games performed with 40 factors and look poised so as to add an affect participant earlier than the April 12 commerce deadline. There’s discuss that the Leafs are in on a number of large names at ahead and defence together with Mikael Granlund, Filip Forsberg, Rickard Rakell, and Matias Ekholm amongst others.

Apparently, although, there hasn’t been any phrase about an improve in web regardless of that clearly being the workforce’s weakest hyperlink over the previous two seasons. With the mixture of Jack Campbell’s accidents and Frederik Andersen’s career-worst efficiency thus far, that weak point has been magnified even additional over the previous a number of weeks, costing Toronto a number of factors in video games they’ve dominated.

Frederik Andersen has put up a career-worst .900 save proportion this season. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Slocum)

Regardless of the latest struggles in web, normal supervisor Kyle Dubas didn’t appear too involved about his goaltending scenario throughout Tuesday’s press convention, suggesting that he has full confidence in his present trio.

However in a yr the place the Leafs are clearly going all in for the Cup, you’ve bought to ask the query: can an elite roster win within the playoffs with out distinctive goaltending? Let’s attempt to determine that out.

You Want Elite Goaltending to Win a Stanley Cup

Perhaps this goes with out saying, however you usually must get distinctive goaltending to be able to make a Stanley Cup run. There’s a lot parity within the NHL as of late that the one factor that separates good groups is, usually, what number of saves their goaltender could make, and if we take a look at latest Cup winners, that’s clearly been one of many most important keys to success.

Goalie stats for recent Stanley Cup Winners
Goalie stats for latest Stanley Cup Winners. Knowledge from

Stanley Cup-winning goalies over the past 5 seasons, they’ve averaged about 24 video games performed throughout their playoff runs coupled with a powerful .923 SV%. For reference, .923 is true round Vezina Trophy-level goaltending: Connor Hellebuyck posted a .922 in 2019-20, Andheri Vasilevskiy gained with a .925 in 2018-19, and Pekka Rinne put up a .927 in 2017-18. In fact, it’s simpler to play at a Vezina stage over a 20 to 25-game span in comparison with a full season, however that’s nonetheless removed from a straightforward feat.

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Again to the Leafs: is there anybody within the group that might give them that form of goaltending over an extended playoff run? With none strikes in web, that’s the massive query.

Andersen Is No Longer Elite

Let’s make sure that we’re all on the identical web page right here: Andersen is clearly not an elite goaltender. Over the previous two seasons, the 31-year-old has put up a .907 save proportion (SV%), good for forty fourth of 75 goalies with at the very least 10 video games performed, or twenty eighth of 43 goalies with at the very least 40 video games performed. In line with objectives saved above common per hour (GSAA/60), which adjusts for shot high quality and amount, the Dane as soon as once more finishes twenty eighth out of 43 netminders with a barely unfavourable ranking.

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The attention check tells the identical story: Andersen not often ever makes the saves he shouldn’t, and typically struggles to makes the saves he ought to.

I’m a giant Campbell fan but when your response is that backup can step up and carry a workforce on his personal over an prolonged stretch, I feel that’s very optimistic contemplating he’s 29, has simply 67 video games of NHL expertise, and has by no means performed greater than 31 video games in a single season. Principally, it seems just like the Leafs don’t have a dependable possibility in web for a playoff run this season except somebody can catch hearth. Thankfully, that doesn’t appear to be fully out of the query.

Andersen Is Nonetheless Able to Catching Fireplace

The silver lining by means of all of that is that Andersen is the truth is able to catching hearth and he’s confirmed that previously. He’s in all probability one of many streakier goalies within the NHL and it seems that Dubas is banking on his starter to rebound on the proper time. The disadvantage, in fact, is that his sizzling streaks have been fairly inconsistent and traditionally haven’t aligned with the playoffs.

Frederik Andersen hot streaks, 2017-2021
Frederik Andersen sizzling streaks, 2017-2021. Knowledge from

Right here we will see all of Andersen’s hottest streaks over the previous 4 seasons. You’ll discover a pair key themes. On the plus facet, his streaks are typically greater than adequate to qualify for Stanley Cup-quality goaltending as he’s averaged a .928 SV% over the 5 runs. The large unfavourable for the Leafs right here is that Andersen hasn’t had a sizzling spell since January 2020, which means he hasn’t proven that elite means in effectively over a yr now.

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his playoff efficiency, Andersen’s averaged a .916 SV% over 25 video games and 4 totally different collection with the Maple Leafs. That’s truly surprisingly first rate contemplating the quantity of flak he appears to catch come playoff time, although the argument is that he’s constantly been outplayed by the opposition’s goalie, which is true.

Frederik Andersen Toronto Maple Leafs
Andersen hasn’t had considered one of his trademark sizzling streaks in effectively over a yr. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

In the end, if the Leafs are going to seek out playoff success this season, it’s going to return right down to considered one of two issues: both Andersen rebounds onerous to seek out his A-game on the proper time, or the workforce in entrance of him is so dominant that they will win with common goaltending just like the Blues did in 2019. Based mostly on what we’ve seen from Andersen previously yr and alter, I wouldn’t financial institution on him returning to his prime kind, which is partially why the strain is on Dubas to go all-in at this yr’s commerce deadline.

With the brand new alignment and improved roster, the Leafs are actually arrange for playoff success this season. It’s simply regarding to suppose that their fortunes will in the end relaxation on the shoulders of the person between the posts.

Stats from Hockey-Reference and Pure Stat Trick

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