We’re huge Toronto Maple Leafs freaks. But we’re also data freaks, which is why even though everyone around us was planning the Stanley Cup parade group back in February when the Leafs were challenging for home ice, we were waiting for the bubble burst. We saw it coming, not by looking at the team’s stats, but benchmarking them against the rest of the league.
The Leafs were giving up 36.3 shots per game. This stat alone means nothing, but when we compared it to the rest of league, we saw that that ranked first (or last, depending on how you look at it). Good teams don’t lead the league in shots against. Using the same benchmarking tool (ie: the stats page), we saw that the average team was taking just 30.08 shots per game, making the Leafs performance all that more disturbing.
As for what those shots against produced, they were giving up 2.97 goals per game. Again, that means nothing unless you look at it in context of the rest of the league. Doing that, we saw that ranked 6th in the league, and they were the only team in the Top 10 (or bottom 10) in a playoff position. Even Buffalo, the last place team in the league at the time, was giving up fewer goals.
The signs were there for anyone who bothered to look beyond the Leafs own numbers. Despite the apparent success they were having, this was a team in trouble. But only by benchmarking their numbers to the rest of the league could you see it.
What we can take from the dismalness that is the Maple Leafs
Numbers mean nothing without context. The best way to know where you really stand (and what you need to do to get where you need to be) is to utilize benchmarking tools and compare yourself against the competition.