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Friday, October 3, 2008


3 October 2008

So all the King’s horses and all the King’s men couldn’t put Humpty back together again. Or so the tale goes in TORONTO. Thus, TORONTO embraces the re-build of their team. What other choice do they have? There are cap limits, players who won’t commit, players who won’t allow themselves to be traded and fans who lose sleep seeing their historic hallmark mired in the bottoms of the league they helped build. The TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS have missed the playoffs for all three seasons since the lockout. The last time the LEAFS missed the playoffs for three consecutive years was 1926-1928. Danger, Will Robinson. Danger.

But this city wants back in. These fans need it and despite the mass of criticism towards the management (and even government involvement!) there are still men on this team who have given their lives to the idea of one day playing with the world’s elite in the NHL. It minimizes these player’s hard work and desire to not believe these men want more - or are capable of more.

For now, TORONTO swims at the bottom of their pond but they will surface for air. It’s been too long. And since they will be forced to succeed with youth and players who must still prove they belong at the NHL level (never mind the fact they play in the city with the Hockey Hall of Fame), the LEAFS must play with the team they have. So pay attention while the young players turn this club around. You’ll want to say you were there with them all the while, even through the dark days. It may not be this year they re-enter the Cup Quest, but this is the year it begins.

One major distraction persists, though. Mats Sundin won’t commit to return and won’t commit to another team and won’t commit to retiring. We’ll get to that later in the report.

As stated yesterday, this SPR is to be a more optimistic view to the most discussed NHL team and their current woes. But we see the hope of a new day, a new season and a new beginning. It takes a TEAM to compete and qualify for Lord Stanley’s Cup Playoffs. So here in the OGA Season Preview Report we’ll evaluate the team’s performance against the Playoff Qualifying Curve (PQC) in the second half of this blog and discuss how the modern LEAFS turn this season and give OGA all kinds of trouble… and fun.

During the course of the 2007/8 NHL Season:
  • The TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS finished -5.0 against the PQC
  • The LEAFS’ finished (you may forget) in middle of the NHL (15th) on Power Play percentage (17.78%)
  • The LEAFS’ finished a not-surprising 29th in the league on Penalty Kill percentage (78.13%)
  • Demonstrating a serious need for effective offense, the team finished 24th (total points) in the league, but 5th in shots-per-game (31.00)
  • The LEAFS’ have not advanced to the Stanley Cup playoffs in the New NHL since the lockout.
In the previous season, OGA was not able to call the TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS OUT of post-season play until the end of their 50th game (23 JANUARY 2007). In the two seasons previous to last, OGA had called the LEAFS IN post-season play only to find our forecast incorrect as their play imploded like one of those light bulbs soon to be illegal in Canada. THE LEAFS fall into OGA’s “13% Club” (OGA calls are made with just over 87% accuracy) and this is one reason OGA is excited to evaluate their play. We look forward to the surprises TORONTO may deliver in this new season. So let’s evaluate their historical performance in the New NHL (post-lockout) against the PQC and how it is the LEAFS have proven to be so tricky.

(cont)…We continue our TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS Season Preview with hard stats compared to the OGA-developed Playoff Qualifying Curve (PQC) and the team’s trends as measured against the PQC. And since this is the final SPR for the Frozen Pill until the first drop of the puck on the new 08-09 NHL season, we will end with some fun.

This team is all over the place but they consistently play below the Curve. Until this trend is reversed, the LEAFS will continue to bear the burden of increased scrutiny from all perspectives. But they, perhaps more than any other team, have tested our PQC analysis to its extreme. In the 07-08 NHL season, OGA was unable to make the call on whether this team was IN or OUT of the playoffs until the 50-game mark where they finished a dreadful -4.0 against the PQC.

In the season previous (06-07) we believed the LEAFS strong start had propelled them to qualifying play by the end of Game 20. A month and a half later (30 DECEMBER 2006), they managed to disqualify themselves from any chance of post-season play. In the 05-06 season, again we thought they were close to playoff qualification by the end of Game 20. By 2 JANUARY 2006 we evaluated their performance against the Curve and called them IN. The LEAFS then proceeded to lose 9 of the next 10 games, forcing OGA to reevaluate. Ten games later, after having lost another 7 out of 10, they had proved us incorrect and disqualified themselves from playoff contention by 4 MARCH 2006.

Thus, the ‘13% Club’ was born. OGA makes the call of IN or OUT as early as the end of OCTOBER each season. We have a formula and this work is not easy. Fortunately, TORONTO makes OGA work more diligently to perfect our PQC…and makes this fun. Surely, that’s how the fans see this trying time in LEAFS history. Fun.

The TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS have averaged a PQC Rating of -2.5 the past three seasons.

Remember, it takes a team to win or lose and it is the team’s performance we evaluate on a strictly analytical basis. Any challenge to our methodology is welcome and rest assured, as fans of this game, we can relate to the pain. After viewing our graph below, you will see the LEAFS played a much more consistent game last season (compared to the two years previous) and we expect to see more of the same in the 2008/9 NHL season.

This season, the TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS’ first 10 games of the season are played 9 OCTOBER – 29 OCTOBER. Our research indicates they earn a PQC rating of 5.3 during this time frame. The LEAFS will begin play in the 08-09 season with only 2 games of their first 15 against the Western Conference. Seeing their Eastern neighbors for 13 of the first 15 games this year should help the LEAFS with yet another traditionally strong start in play as measured against the PQC, regardless of what comes later.

Some statistics of note to manage your expectations in to late OCTOBER are:
  • Post lockout, the TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS’ record in the first 10-game segments is 12-10-8
  • The LEAFS, over the past 3 season, have played in 13 of 30 games requiring OT or a shootout
  • Two of the three LEAFS’ season openers have required OT or a shootout to determine a victor; one resulting in an OT loss, the other resulting in a shoot-out loss. They have lost all 3 season openers
  • Over the previous three seasons, in OCTOBER, the LEAFS have 14 Wins where OT or a shootout was required for the victory
  • The LEAFS have lost all 3 home season-openers since the lockout and in the first 10-game segments have lost 13 of 21 (61.90%) at home
  • The team’s 3-year per-game averages: 3.03 GF and 3.25 GA
OGA will be measuring the LEAFS against their three-average PQC Rating of -2.5 in the first 10 games (as well as with all other NHL teams) in order to provide you more in-depth analysis with the TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS Game 10 Report. The G10R will be delivered to our subscription customers by 2PM Central on 30 OCTOBER and available for purchase online by 2PM Central, 31 OCTOBER. See the OGA store for more details HERE. You can also view a sample for our G10R HERE. (Make sure to view all 3 tabs!)

OGA KNOWS. You can, too.

OVER the previous three years (post-lockout), the LEAFS earn a PQC rating of -2.5. They have also earned honorable mention for the following statistics of note to On Goal Analysis:
  • The TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS are 1 of 7 teams to miss post-season play in all three years since the lockout
  • In back-to-back games, TORONTO has 18 Wins and 27 Losses during the previous three seasons showing a trend towards losing in b2b games (67%)
  • On MONDAYS, the MAPLE LEAFS have Won 15 of 21 games (71.43%)
OGA will be measuring their team performance against the PQC online and via our Game Reports available for purchase. For your best value, see our subscription information HERE. In the meantime, stay tuned to The OGA Blog and check out the TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS G10R for a thorough review of the team’s performance as measured against our proprietary PQC.

Now, we promised a little bit of fun to wrap up the Frozen Pill’s On Goal Analysis Season Preview Reports. Enjoy below and then be sure to read all three of today’s SPR releases and keep checking back with us at www.ongoalanalysis.com because OGA KNOWS. Now you can, too.

It’s only a puck until you take one in the teeth. Then, it’s a Frozen Pill...

The recently acquired secret photograph showing the LEAFS’ strategy for the 08-09 season

…And as promised, OGA will never leave you hanging. To conclude the matter previously discussed of the incredible legend that is Mats Sundin….

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