Leafs vs. Series Numbers. Lightning is both worrisome and encouraging, depending on what numbers you mean

Last night, I imagine we all ecstatically watched the Maple Leafs achieve their second of the four win they need against the Tampa Bay Lightning. A 2-1 lead in the series is crucial, and according to Hockey-Reference, teams that advance 2-1 in a series while away have a 70.9% chance of winning the series, compared to 55.4% after losing Match 2 at home.

Moneypuck has actual team-based odds, based on performance so far this season and throughout the playoffs. The Leafs currently have a 77.8% chance of defeating Lightning and moving into the second round. Toronto is also top of the charts for cup win now, at 15.9%, slightly ahead of Avalanche, who has a 2-0 lead over the Predators so far.

Moneypuck’s odds machine clearly sees the Leafs as a team that plays well, giving them about a 7% more chance of winning the series than the historical odds they should have. Let’s look at the numbers in the series so far to see if the stellar regular season performance driving those odds takes off in the playoffs.

1 . game

Some would say 5-0 is the only stat we need from this game, but even a dominant win like this can show holes in the shield. If you look at shot attempts only, which is not recommended in a single game, especially with such an unbalanced score, but only for context, the Leafs have given up 44 shot attempts in 5-on-5 and taken only 33. CF%, which is in a very bad world. But we can apply an adjustment based on the state of the game score. It’s easier to get shots when you lose, from a statistical perspective, so Lightning’s shot attempts while scoring two or three goals are less valuable than those made by the Leafs when the score is tied.

Applying this adjustment, using numbers from Natural Stat Trick, Leafs had 47.06% CF, which is a huge improvement, but still not good.

Looking at the goals expected instead, which are just attempts to take shots with the added factor of where those shots are taken, the Leafs are really improving. From the Natural Stat Trick, once again, the Leafs earned 56.73 xGF% in 5-on-5, including score and place adjustment.

Overall, the Leafs appeared to be off the mark, and while they took chances from good points, they allowed Lightning to run the match in the third inning. While it didn’t hurt them in this game, we’ve definitely seen that cost them games in the past.

2 . game

Obviously this was a tough loss to swallow after peak Game 1 win. In this game, the foliage was pretty flat all over, and that showed in the number of points and shot attempts.

Score and place adjusted adjusted, they have 47.06 CF% and 41.96 xGF% per normal statistical trick. Interestingly, the third period told a different story than the first game; Lightning kept the pressure and carried 66.23% of shot attempts despite leading 3-1 and rising 5-1 early in the third. They allowed two at the end obviously, to make the final score 5-3 and split the goals in the third, but were able to keep the pressure overall, unlike the Leafs in Game 1.

This loss was owed to Toronto, and they were left licking their wounds in the majority of a third. It’s possible that the consolation of hitting two goals didn’t offer much consolation, and it shouldn’t.

3 . game

To credit to the Leafs, they made a statement at Game 3 last night: They won’t let Game 2 defeat them mentally. While the score for this goal sounded like a blast, the Leafs scored 2 of their five goals with Lightning after pulling the goalkeeper, so with goalkeepers in the net, the match was 3-2.

The numbers, again from Natural Stat Trick, tell a similar story to Game 1, with the Leafs defective at CF% adjusted for score and place 5 out of 5, at 47.04%, and again, at xGF%, they have an advantage at 53.04 %.

Winning that win was fantastic, and Jack Campbell was also excellent, resisting all those shot attempts by Lightning.

Comprehensive series

Looks like when the Leafs win they really let their shots stop. A dangerous exercise for sure.

This chart from Natural Stat Trick shows what the shot attempts looked like in Game 2 and then Game 3:

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