On the weekend Steve Simmons produced another unfair Leaf Bashing article largely criticising John Ferguson Jr. for his moves as the Leafs GM and for has lack of commitment to a youth movement.
He traded away a first-round draft pick, two second-round picks, a fourth and a fifth for Brian Leetch, 36, Yanic Perreault, 36 next month, Luke Richardson, 37, and Ron Francis, 41.
Once again I called him to task on this and we exchanged several e-mails. I pointed out that he was cherry picking moves that Ferguson made 3 years ago while Pat Quinn was still significantly influencing roster moves and that he unfairly ignored the moves like bringing in Jeff O’Neill, Chad Kilger, John Pohl, Bates Battaglia, and Boyd Devereaux for next to nothing were great moves and helped give the Leafs depth that no other team has. I also pointed out that the Leafs have are the 12th youngest team in the NHL and started the season with only Mats Sundin over age 31 (Travis Green and Yannick Perreault have since been added).
I then went on to argue that the Leafs are a good team (maybe very good) with bad goaltending which brought me to some interesting findings.
The Leafs are 8th in the NHL in fewest shots against and give up about as many shots per game (28.590) as the New Jersey Devils (28.576). Would a shoddy defense do that?
The Leafs are also in the top 10 in goals scored. The only other teams in both the top 10 in goals scored and top 10 in fewest shots against are Only 3 teams are in the top 10 in both categories – Detroit, Anaheim and Tampa. Two of those are considered by most to be strong Stanley Cup contenders and the third won the Stanley Cup 3 years ago and only questionable goaltending stops them from being prime cup contenders again. And weak goaltending is the Leafs problem too as the Leafs have the 4th worst team save % in the NHL.
But the most interesting finding I came up with was Andrew Raycroft’s home vs road statistics. On the road Raycroft has a good (though not great) .907 save% which he converted into a 2.72 goals against average and a 18-7-2 record. At home Raycroft has a horrific .882 save% with a 3.22 goals against average and a 11-13-5 record.
I will add that Raycroft has 752 shots in 1543 minutes (0.487 shots per minute) on the road and 752 shots in 1658 minutes (0.454 shots per minute) at home. What is interesting about that is that the Leafs have given up 7.2% more shots per minute on the road than at home which is very consistent with other home/road statistics. Historically teams score ~10% fewer goals on the road.
With that knowledge I think it is safe to say that the Leafs are just as good at home as on the road (if not better) except for Raycroft. It seems more likely that local boy Andrew Raycroft is buckling under the pressure of playing in front of an unforgiving home town crowd.
Now let us all think about that for a second. If Raycroft had the same home record as road record (lets say 19-8-2 since he has played 2 more games at home) the Leafs would have 13 additional points which would put them at 84 points trailing only Buffalo (93) and New Jersey (87) in the east. Not too shabby. Oh, and that is with a ton of injuries as well.
So, I think the question is, is it time to play Aubin at home and Raycroft on the road? It would be an interesting way to split duties among your goalies but it might something worth trying for coach Paul Maurice.
For the record, Aubin has a .900 save% at home and a .874 save% on the road.