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Maple Leafs need to get three to win

Or so I keep saying, anyway.

Detroit Red Wings v Toronto Maple Leafs
Two is not enough.
Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

To write The Tautology of Hockey, I had to really think about the ideas around giving up goals, scoring goals and what the math behind blown leads and scoring effects really means. So naturally I turned that into being really annoying to people on Twitter and Game Day Threads here on PPP. I keep carrying on about how the Leafs just need to score three goals each game and then everything will be fine.

I actually based that on the minute and a half I spent counting up how many regulation or overtime wins (ROW) the Leafs have this season where they scored two or fewer goals. The answer is two, so three seemed like a good number of goals to shoot for.

Today, I decided to actually dig a little deeper. This is not some exhaustive analysis, it’s just counting some stuff up.

One amusing bit of trivia is that the Leafs actually have more ROW (three) when giving up more than three goals than they have when scoring less than that.

And it’s obvious that scoring a lot isn’t a guarantee. They have four losses while scoring three goals and another four while scoring more than three.

That’s what did happen.

A different way of looking at it is how many goals were needed to have got a ROW?

So by this gross oversimplification, the Leafs would have won 36 times if they scored three goals every game. If they scored four every single time, they’d have 47 wins. Which is a lot more than the 29 ROW they actually have.

So it seems that the Leafs are a three goal team.

I’ve been thinking about what this means for the future. Should the Leafs try to improve their goals for? Can they, realistically? Should they avoid removing players who score a lot or players who prevent goals better? Which is the right choice as they gradually phase out older players for prospects or new acquisitions? Should they get a defensive defenceman or a high-scoring one?

I’m not sure any answers are obvious as every change has ripple effects elsewhere in the lineup.

But for the next 15 games, we should definitely add a verse to the chant: Go Leafs Go. Let’s Score Three!