The Toronto Maple Leafs are showing the NHL what goaltending, special teams, and sharp-shooting can do for a team.
Last night in Edmonton, the Leafs were outshot for the 10th straight game. In 13 games total this season, they’ve been outshot 11 times.
The Leafs are also 9-4-0, first place in the Eastern Conference. They beat the Oilers, 4-0, last night despite a 43-26 disparity in shots.
Generally, a team that gets outshot on a regular basis, particularly when the score is close, loses more than it wins. For current examples of that, see the Sabres, Flyers, Capitals, Jets and Oilers.
So how are the Leafs doing it?
— Goaltending. James Reimer and Jonathan Bernier have combined for a team save percentage of .935, tied for fourth in the NHL. (Colorado leads at .955.)
— Special teams. A 2nd-ranked power play (26.1%) and 4th-ranked penalty kill (85.4%).
— Sharp-shooting. Led by sniper Phil Kessel, no team has scored on a higher percentage of its shots (12.4%) than the Leafs. (For more on that, read this.)
The question going forward is, can Toronto keep winning the same way? Or, as the stats guys put it, is what the Leafs are doing sustainable?
We don’t pretend to have that answer for you, so you’ll just have to watch. Toronto is in Calgary tonight and Vancouver Saturday.