Yesterday's survey results are in, and the Leafs' mean projection is 82.6 points. That's not an unsubstantial improvement - Toronto finished with 74 points this year, so our wise crowds expect a four-win gain. Let's put that in a table:
|Final 69 Games||0.486|
If we ignore Toronto's brutal 13-game streak to start the season - and well we should - they were on a 79-point pace. Now the consensus is that they're an 82-83-point team?! That doesn't sound like much of an improvement. Well, I wrote about this last year. Essentially, teams that get off to very bad starts are actually a lot better than they appear. But that poor play is already banked in everyone's mind. So future expectations are based on the poor full-season record instead of the team's apparent true talent level. If Toronto was going to improve on their 79-point pace by nine points, they'd be on the playoff bubble; instead people think they're going to finish 12th or 13th.
Strange, isn't it? Toronto had a bad 13 games while Phil Kessel was hurt and Vesa Toskala was destroying his career, and the outcome is that the Leafs face lower expectations a season later.