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NHL North: Maple Leafs rule roost

By Andy MacNeil  () 

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Since the end of January, the Edmonton Oilers have been one of the hottest teams in the NHL. They had won 11 of their last 15 games and moved into second place in the division. Naturally, the conversation in the hockey world shifted to asking questions like whether or not the Oilers are the best team in the North, and I admittedly felt a little silly suggesting that the Oilers would still probably finish somewhere around eight points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs. 

However, despite the Maple Leafs missing superstar Auston Matthews and starting goaltender Frederik Andersen, they left Edmonton with a pair of shutout wins over the Oilers, who had not been shut out in their previous 22 games. The Maple Leafs held a significant edge (54.6%) in expected goals (all situations) in the two-game series. According to Evolving Hockey, the Maple Leafs have owned 53% of the expected goals at five-on-five (good for sixth in the NHL), while the Oilers’ mark is closer to 50%.

Best of the rest

The Montreal Canadiens have very strong underlying metrics at five-on-five, but the Maple Leafs edge them when taking special teams and other situations into account, and on the surface, things are tilted much more in the Maple Leafs’ favor. On a per-60-minute basis, the Maple Leafs have outscored teams 3.6 to 2.4, which equates to a 60% goal share, roughly four percentage points higher than the Canadiens and eight percentage points above the Oilers. 

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