The Toronto Maple Leafs are one of the best teams in the NHL and still rank among the top-10 teams, according to my model, despite their goaltenders’ struggles. But perhaps the Maple Leafs’ biggest problem is that they regularly fail to live up to expectations when playing inferior opponents.
There have been 29 instances in which the Maple Leafs entered a game with moneyline odds of -200 or higher, and they went 17-12 straight up in those games. On average, the Maple Leafs were priced at -260, which suggests they should have won around 72 percent of those games, but their actual win rate was only 58.6 percent.
Some say the Maple Leafs play down to lesser opponents, but I believe it’s the other way around. Even at a young age, I was well aware of the narrative that every team brings their best when playing the Maple Leafs, especially in Toronto, and it always made sense. Toronto is the mecca of the hockey universe, and many players around the league grew up cheering for the Maple Leafs or rooting against them.