We all know that Mike Babcock said the point target for the Maple Leafs this year is six points in every five games.
He looks at five game segments, and since 55 games have been played, now is a great time to look at how the team is doing.
There are six segments where the team has met or exceeded the six-point mark and five where they’ve failed. At 63 points right now, the Leafs are three short of their target. This is good, in that they are doing well, but in order to meet the overall goal they need to have three segments in the remaining five that hit seven points. In other words, they have to get points at a higher rate than they have been so far.
That’s Babcock’s view. I like the rolling point chart.
This gives us this year and last year. The similarities are surprising in some ways. The difference between last and fighting for a wild card is not really large.
The Leafs have hit the max of 10 once, but they have stayed around the four to eight range for most of the season. They have never dropped below three, however, which is the crucial difference from last year. If their play deteriorates, they snap out of it quickly and don’t get mired in weeks of losses piling up.
Even in the New Year downturn this year, the Leafs are never as terrible as the disastrous goaltending last year made them. That third quarter last year was the stretch of games, mostly losses, that got the Leafs Auston Matthews.
The post trade-deadline bump and then collapse last season was as much about how other teams played the Leafs as it was the goaltending and rookie performances. Teams realized the Leafs needed a little more effort to beat and that led to a losing skid at the end of the year.
This year, teams already know the Leafs are hard to play. The rest of the season is not going to be easy.