Monday, October 18, 2010

Maple Leafs hot start to 2010/11

Well, I have been avoiding the topic of Toronto's early season success for fear of jinxing what has been a pleasant surprise. Alas, I have a bad feeling about playing the Islanders in game five so I'm going to hope for a reverse-jinx tonight. As an aside, I have in fact been wearing the same Leaf hat (of 10 or so in my collection) each and every day since the season started.

So let's have a look. The 4-0 start to this year is of course the best start by Toronto since 1993/94 when they set an NHL record by going 10-0 to begin the year. Upon looking at the two squads, this year's could not be more of a polar opposite from that team of 17 years ago.

For starters the earlier version of the Leafs was led mainly by three stars in Doug Gilmour, Dave Andreychuk and Wendel Clark. Gilmour would tally 111 points in 93/94, Andreychuk 53 goals and 99 points and Clark had one of the best goal scoring seasons in Toronto history with 46 goals in 64 games. The drop off from these top three to the rest of the team was drastic. Next behind Clark's 76 points was Glenn Anderson at 35 points. This team really was built around three players, that, and the goaltending of a young Felix Potvin.

The current edition of the Leafs is perhaps by default a team more evenly constructed. Aside from Phil Kessel, and the jury is still out on him, there really is no "star" on this team at least amongst the forwards. Another major difference is the age of each team. In 1993, the average age of the forwards was 30.3 years while the defense averaged 28.7 years. The current team has an average age of 25.9 for the forwards and 26.8 for the defense. Only in net is this years's team older with Giguere and Gustavsson averaging 29.5 while in 1993 Felix Potvin and Damian Rhodes averaged a mere 23 years of age.

In the fifth game of 1993, the Leafs beat up the Red Wings 6-3 at Maple Leaf Gardens, then beat them 2-1 the next night back in Detroit. Other than the 5-1 win over Ottawa, each of this season's wins have been by one goal. We must remember that after winning the first ten games of 1993, the Leafs would play at at a slightly more pedestrian pace with a .527 win percentage the rest of the way to finish with 98 points in 84 games. If the Leafs of 2010 could manage to play even at that level the rest of the way they would finish with 90 points which may or well not be enough for a playoff spot.

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