Well, they only bloody went and did it didn’t they? A group of very good rookies have apparently made it so that #TheLeafsAreActuallyGood, and they make the playoffs after a great first year for many talents.
Their reward? The league leaders.
|Eastern Conference Round One|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||Vs||Washington Capitals|
|2nd Wildcard||Seeding||1st Metropolitan|
Apparently, the Leafs being #actuallygood involves them finishing under .500, but who am I to argue with the esteemed Toronto media?
Anyway, the kids have been fun, and they’re going to be really really good very soon, but this year, they’re straight up against the best defence, the third-best attack, and a Capitals side who look head and shoulders above the rest.
|Record versus opponent|
These two have never met in the playoffs before, so we’re getting a little piece of history. The Caps took the season series, and have the advantage overall.
|Auston Matthews||40||Goals||33||TJ Oshie
|Mitch Marner||42||Assists||63||Nicklas Backstrom|
|Auston Matthews||69||Points||86||Nicklas Backstrom|
|Auston Matthews||279||Shots||313||Alex Ovechkin|
|Connor Brown||14.4||Shot %||23.1||TJ Oshie|
The Leafs have very good kids, but they also only have nine players who have ten or more goals, with 12 managing to break 20 points. Compare this to the Caps, who have 11 10+ scorers, five of whom have 20 goals or more, while 14 players have 20+ points.
Shoutout to Kevin Shattenkirk, who has 14 points in 19 games since being traded from St Louis. The guy wants to get paid.
|Even Strength Team Possession (via corsica.hockey)|
|Unadjusted Possession Leaders (ES, min 200 minutes)|
|Toronto||Connor Carrick (52.86)||William Nylander (52.52)||Jake Gardiner (51.41)||William Nylander (52.26)|
|Washington||Matt Niskanen (54.43)||Andre Burakowski (55.34)||Kevin Shattenkirk (56.20)||Justin Williams (54.11)|
Washington are the third-best possession team in the league. Toronto…aren’t. Both sides have a tendency to take their foot off the gas while ahead, but Toronto do it to a higher degree.
Of those who have played more than 200 minutes, only four Capitals are negative possession players. Good luck, Leafs.
|Power Play||Penalty Kill|
|PPG For||SHG Against||PPG Against||SHG For|
Two high-end power plays go head to head here, with two top-ten penalty kills to boot. Neither team will want to go shorthanded often, because the opposition is well-armed to take advantage.
|Frederik Andersen||Curtis McElhinney||Braden Holtby||Philipp Grubauer|
|All Sits Sv%||91.77||91.72||92.49||92.65|
|All Sits HDSv%||82.12||85.71||80.78||82.55|
The status of Andersen is up in the air after he was taken out by the most cheapest of shots from Tom Sestito, so Curtis McElhinney might be your starter. Womp.
Meanwhile the Caps have two reliable goaltenders, who should win this battle.
Washington aye? Aye. This is going to be a learning experience for the Leafs.
The winner gets Columbus or Pittsburgh. Caps/Pens? Yes please.