Maple Leafs Eerily Similar Starts to Past Two Seasons: What’s Coming?

There have been many similarities between the first two months of the 2021-22 season and the 2022-23 season for the Toronto Maple Leafs. In October of 2021, they stumbled out of the starting blocks recording just four wins in the nine games they played in the month. Their overall record for October 2021 was a pedestrian 4-4-1 to put them at a .500 winning percentage.

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Jump ahead one year later; in October 2022, the Maple Leafs again won four games in the month. They played one more game in October this season, yet they ended with the same winning percentage at .500 because their record for this October was 4-4-2.

The Past Two Novembers Have Been the Maple Leafs’ Best

The month of November 2021 was the team’s best in franchise history. They won 12 games and only lost two to give them 24 of a possible 28 points for the month, an amazing .857 winning percentage.

Mitch Marner John Tavares Timothy Liljegren Celebrate Toronto Maple Leafs
Mitch Marner, John Tavares, and Timothy Liljegren celebrate a goal for the Toronto Maple Leafs (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Not to be outdone, in November 2022, the Maple Leafs again set a franchise record with 25 points in 15 games played. Over the month, the team only lost one game in regulation and posted an 11-1-3 record. This November, their winning percentage dropped slightly from last year to .833. They were led by William Nylander and Mitch Marner. Marner has also been chasing down the franchise record for consecutive games with at least one point.

Comparing Overall Results for the Team’s First Two Months

If we compare the overall results for the two months in 2021, the Maple Leafs played 23 games, won 16 games, and lost six games in regulation and one game in overtime. Over these first two months in 2021, the team collected 33 points, which was a .717 winning percentage. In 2022, they’ve played 25 games, won 15, and lost five games in regulation and five in overtime. During the first two months of 2022, they collected a total of 35 points for a .700 winning percentage. 

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At the end of October 2021, the Maple Leafs were in fifth place out of eight teams in the Atlantic Division, eleventh place in the Eastern Conference, and 17th overall in the NHL. For the month of November 2021, their 24 points led the league, the Eastern Conference, and the Atlantic Division. 

After the first two months of the 2021-22 season, they were tied for first in the overall NHL standings and the Eastern Conference with the Florida Panthers and the Washington Capitals. All three teams had 33 points. The Maple Leafs were also tied for first place in the Atlantic Division with the Panthers.

At the end of October 2022, the Maple Leafs were tied for fourth place in the Atlantic Division, ninth in the Eastern Conference, and 14th overall in the league. 

Their 25-point November was second-best in the league and conference. The Maple Leafs had one point less than the New Jersey Devils, who finished the month with 26 points. 

Although The Maple Leafs Records Were Similar, There Were Many Differences

Goals For And Against

While the Maple Leafs’ records were eerily similar for the first two months of the 2021-22 season and the first two months of the 2022-23 season, how the team arrived at them was different. In October 2021, they scored 21 goals (2.33 per game) in the nine games they played. They also gave up 29 (3.22 per game), which was a minus-8 goal differential.

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In October 2022, the Maple Leafs scored six more goals in one more game played for a total of 27 goals (2.70 per game). But, they also gave up one more goal (30) in the month giving them a goals per game of three. Overall, during the first two months of 2022, their goal differential was only minus-3.

While their records were virtually identical in October of 2021 and 2022 they scored more (2.70 goals per game) in 2022 than they did in 2021 (2.33 goals per game) and gave up fewer goals per game (3.00) in October 2022 than they did in October 2021 (3.22).  

John Tavares Toronto Maple Leafs
John Tavares has had a great start for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
(Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

When we compare the months of November we see their goals for per game are almost identical. In 2021, the team scored 45 goals in 14 games to give them an average of 3.21 goals per game. In 2022, they scored 49 goals in 15 games for an average of 3.27 goals per game, a difference of only 0.06 goals scored per game.

The biggest difference between November 2021 and November 2022 was in goals against. This season the Maple Leafs gave up 32 goals in 15 games for a respectable 2.13 goals against per game. However, in November of 2021, they only allowed 20 goals in 14 games. That was an astounding 1.43 goals per game. 

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As good as the goaltending has been this past November, Jack Campbell was amazing in November of 2021 posting a .959 save percentage and a 1.27 goals-against-average. That appears to be the major difference between the 2021 and 2022 November.  

Jack Campbell Toronto Maple Leafs
Former team member Jack Campbell had a great November for the Toronto Maple Leafs last season.
(Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

We also must note all the injuries to the Maple Leafs’ defence this season. Losing their top three defencemen has to have an effect on their goals-against average. 

Looking Ahead for the Maple Leafs

If the Maple Leafs were to continue their trends of playing at virtually the same pace each month, what can we expect in December 2022? That’s not easy to predict. Last December saw a number of teams, the Maple Leafs included, get hit badly with COVID-19. As a result, many games were postponed, and the Maple Leafs only ended up playing seven games in December 2021.

Their record in the month of December 2021 was 4-2-1. That gave them nine points in the seven games, a .643 winning percentage. If we look at December 2022, the Maple Leafs are scheduled to play 12 games this month. If they play at the same .643 winning percentage, they should end up with about 15 points and a record of 7-4-1.

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If the Maple Leafs once again duplicate their play in the month of December similarly to how they did in the months of October and November, they should end up with 15 to 16 points. Of course, there is absolutely nothing scientific about my calculations. That said, it will be interesting to see if the team’s pattern for the first two months of the last two seasons does continue into the month of December. 

Note: Statistics for this post were provided by Quanthockey.com and Hockeyreference.com.

[Note: I want to thank long-time Maple Leafs’ fan Stan Smith for collaborating with me on this post. Stan’s Facebook profile can be found here.]


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