William Nylander scored against the Florida Panthers
Photo credit: Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

Analytics expert blatantly insults the Leafs

Published February 27, 2024 at 6:29 PM

At this point, we know that barring disaster, the Leafs will face off against either the Boston Bruins or the Florida Panthers in round one. Facing the Bruins would be an opportunity to slay an old dragon, facing Florida, a new one. Revenge is on the table for the Leafs either way. Personally, I believe the Leafs are better suited for playoff hockey this year than they were last season, but they could definitely use some help at the trade deadline.

On The Fourth Period's Trade Deadline Primer episode released today, Shane Kelly, an analytics expert for SMT, the company responsible for the NHL's puck tracking technology, was asked what the Leafs need to add at the deadline to be true contenders. His answer was that the Leafs should stand pat, not because they don't need the help, but because he doesn't believe a move for a defenseman will make a difference.

"If you're the Leafs, I don't think you're getting out of that division, the Florida Panthers are an absolute buzz saw. They're the best forechecking team in the league. They're also incredible, best in the league at denying zone exits, and they're third in denying zone entries. What do the Leafs like to do more than anything? Carry the puck up the ice. I don't think they get by that team no matter who they add.

Adding a defensive defenseman? Sure that'll help, but their weakness is not in giving up chances. They're just gonna run into this Florida team that is built to stop exactly how the Toronto Maple Leafs like to play hockey and, you know, good luck, see you next year." - Shane Kelly on the Leafs<\q>

Well, guess that's it guys, we'll try again next season. There's absolutely zero chance that the Leafs, currently on a 7-game winning streak and watching Auston Matthews score at a rate not seen since Mario Lemieux, have a shot against the Panthers. Note the sarcasm.

Are the odds in the Leafs' favour? Probably not. The Panthers have a great hockey team, and, as we saw in last year's playoffs, the rules don't apply to them the same way they do to the Leafs. Having said that, to say the Leafs may as well pack up and go home is an absolute farce. Anyone who's watched any sort of playoff hockey knows that the playoffs are unpredictable, to say the least. As far as I'm concerned, the only team the Leafs should be worried about is themselves. Their success hinges entirely on whether or not they can find a way to rise to the occasion. My advice? Post the Kelly quote on the bulletin board and read it to the team every day until the playoffs arrive.
February 27   |   464 answers
Analytics expert blatantly insults the Leafs

Do you think the Leafs should simply stand pat and prepare to give up to Florida, as Shane Kelly suggested?

Might as well9119.6 %
They have a fighting chance24653 %
They're making the conference finals12727.4 %
Planning the parade as we speak00 %
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