By Nick Barden
106 goals in 29 games this season
The real question is, can they keep this up? The Maple Leafs are currently 3rd in the NHL with 3.66 goals per game. They also sit 3rd in the NHL for GF (goals for) this season with 106. They have key primary scoring from Matthews (15G, 15GP), Tavares (18G, 29GP), Kapanen (11G, 29GP), and Rielly (9G, 29GP). Secondary scoring has been huge from players like Andreas Johnsson (6G, 24GP), Nazem Kadri (8G, 29GP), and Patrick Marleau (7G, 29GP).
But the thing is, two of their star players haven’t even played much this season. Matthews has only played 15 games, where he has 15 goals and Nylander has only played 1 game. But yet, with both players out, they’re still 3rd in the NHL for most goals per game.
Kevin Gibson, at TSN Research thinks, why can’t they keep up this pace? “I don’t see why not — for the games without Matthews they are averaging 4 a game.” But is it a long shot to say they could average more than 3.5 goals per game? “I don’t see why not,” says Gibson, “With the Leafs getting Matthews back and I mean Marner and Tavares seem to be a hell of a fit together. And if they get Nylander, why not?” And they did get Nylander back, so again, “Why not?”
But, what could be one of the reasons that the Leafs wouldn’t be able to keep up a 3.5 goals per game pace? “A lot of it, unfortunately, is going to come down to preservation of player health at this point,” says Travis Yost, Hockey Analytics Writer, “Toronto’s true scoring talent is pretty close to what we are seeing in terms of their total production. And to that end, the only way you go sideways would be cluster injuries in the forward ranks.”
But, what are the chances of multiple players getting injured? Pretty unlikely, but it can still happen. Toronto is one of the few teams in the NHL to have players, who can play a fast game, not get injured. And if one of their star players are injured, they’ve shown that they can still produce.
History in the Making?
The most goals a team has ever scored in an NHL season is 446 goals by the Edmonton Oilers in the 1983-84 season. That Oilers team consisted of players like Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Paul Coffey, and Jari Kurri.
But that was a long time ago and we’re now in the Modern Era. The team with the most goals in a season in the Modern Era is the Washington Capitals with 318 goals in the 2009-10 season. A team with the likes of Alex Ovechkin, who scored 50 goals and added 59 assists for 109 points, and Nicklas Backstrom, who scored 33 goals and had 68 assists.
This is the 2009-10 Washington Capitals players with the most goals, compared to the 2018-19 Toronto Maple Leafs players with the most goals projected.
But what are the chances of the Leafs scoring as many goals as the 2009-10 Washington Capitals?
“One thing that’s important to remember about Toronto’s chances here is that scoring league-wide is up pretty considerably over historical norms in the modern era”, Says Yost, ” A quarter of the league is averaging at least 3.5 goals per game in 2018-19.”
With the Leafs are quietly catching up to the Lightning in terms of goals, Gibson thinks, they may be able to pass them, “I don’t see why not, you know, why the Leafs couldn’t do it. I think the Leafs have a better offense than Tampa Bay.”
With one-third of the season almost done, the Leafs need 207 more goals to beat the 2009-10 Washington Capitals modern era record. And with Nylander back in the Leafs lineup, there could be a chance they break the Modern Era record, as well as some other teams in the NHL this year.