How the Toronto Maple Leafs have Outshot their Opponents

I recently mentioned that the 2008-09 Leafs outshot their opponents when they had the lead. This is not common - most teams protect a lead by not taking chances which would result in quality scoring chances against them. This reduces shots for while increasing shots against. So while the 2008-09 Leafs outshot their opponents overall, they did not do it when the game was tied, which is a better indicator of a team's skill.

What about this season? Including missed shots, this table shows (Shots For-Shots Against)/Shots Against at even-strength for various game states:

Total Tied Down One Up One
chi 45.2 50.5 96.7 30.4
phi 22.2 24.1 73.5 4.0
buf 7.9 21.9 24.5 -12.1
bos 13.0 21.8 55.8 -39.0
pit 8.2 18.4 23.8 -17.9
pho 11.9 17.9 15.7 5.5
la 10.6 17.6 33.8 -1.0
nj 7.5 12.9 29.1 -7.9
ott 17.2 11.7 71.7 0.0
tor 9.1 7.9 18.1 -43.8
sj 3.2 7.8 2.5 36.6
cgy -8.1 7.0 52.8 -19.2
car 10.6 6.7 1.9 13.3
nsh 5.4 4.3 55.2 -37.1
det 19.1 4.2 42.7 25.0
was -5.1 4.1 2.7 -27.8
van 8.0 3.8 6.4 -8.5
dal -3.8 -3.4 15.9 -19.8
mon 2.8 -8.3 18.2 -22.1
cls -7.9 -8.8 18.8 -9.8
nyi -13.7 -10.6 -16.7 -14.8
nyr -6.6 -11.4 0.7 0.0
tb -13.5 -13.0 8.0 -25.8
min -2.3 -15.1 -6.0 -21.4
atl -18.2 -20.3 -2.0 -32.3
fla -16.6 -22.3 -15.1 -15.4
stl -8.3 -23.8 9.4 -5.6
edm -23.2 -23.8 -20.9 -25.0
ana -18.5 -26.4 12.8 -37.6
col -21.1 -27.8 -12.9 -21.8

Toronto has been - as hard as this may be to believe - a much better team than they were last season. They went from being outshot by 8.4% to outshooting their opponents by 7.9%; they also stopped taking chances when they've been up - although they've been up so few times, any player who took a chance when they were would have been eviscerated. So why haven't they been winning?

Their goaltending has indeed been poor in tie games - with a 934 save percentage, they're 28th in the league. But the real culprit has been a miniscule shooting percentage - just two goals on 245 shots, or a 0.82% shooting percentage. Yes, you read that right. The Leafs have scored on less than 1% of their shots at even-strength when the game was tied. This is simply unheard of: when the Leafs have been down, their shooting percentage is 5.4% this season; when they're up, it's 10%.

It is simply not possible to assemble a team that can shoot this badly - but over the first almost quarter of the season, the breaks have gone that far against the Leafs. The good news is that they'll do much better over the rest of the season; the bad news is that their bad start has left them with a lot of ground to make up.

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