Toronto Maple Leafs: Season over or season of overs?

Toronto Maple Leafs: Season over or season of overs?

Toronto Maple Leafs: Season over or season of overs?
By ARI BAUM-COHEN

Entering Monday’s NHL contests, the Toronto Maple Leafs have allowed 212 goals (3.53 per game) which is the most in the league. The Maple Leafs have scored 180 goals (three goals per game) which sits 10th most.

In the NHL, where totals are usually 5.5 goals, bettors regularly see totals of six or more when wagering on Maple Leafs' games. After setting the total below six goals for Toronto’s first 19 games, oddsmakers have since adjusted. They tagged 27 of Toronto’s last 29 games with totals of six or more.

Increasing the total hasn’t forced a balance. The over is 11-5-0 in Toronto’s last 16 games and 34-23-3 overall. A major reason for why the over has been hitting consistently is the Maple Leafs' struggles between the pipes.

How have Toronto’s goaltenders fared this season?
 
Vesa Toskala (50 GP, 20W 17L 10 OTL, 3.31 GAA, .886 SVP 1 SO)

While it is usually a positive for a team to have an undisputed No. 1 goaltender, in Toronto’s case it’s primarily due to a lack of alternatives. Vesa Toskala has the highest GAA and lowest save percentage of all starting NHL netminders. Toskala is playing better lately, with a 3-0-3 record in his last six games and has allowed two goals in each of his last three games.

Curtis Joseph (12 GP, 1 W 6L 1 OTL, 3.8 GAA, .854 SVP 0 SO)

Curtis Joseph has not performed well this year. While no one expected him to recreate his past success with Toronto, he was brought in provide support to Vesa Toskala. Joseph has yet to allow less than three goals in a starts and the soon-to-be 42 year old is likely playing his last year in the NHL.

Justin Pogge (5 GP, 1W 1L 1 OTL, 3.94, GAA, .855 SVP, 0 SO)


Justin Pogge, drafted 90th overall in 2004, is considered Toronto’s goaltender of the future. He has enjoyed a successful minor-league career and is currently getting some starts for Toronto, as Brian Burke and Ron Wilson determine how Pogge fits in to the long-term plans. Pogge has shown that he is not yet ready to be a starter in the NHL.

Despite their struggles, the Toronto goaltenders are not solely to blame. Toronto is not known as a defensive minded squad. The Leafs are missing a pair of shut-down defenders to match up against its opponents’ top lines and have the worst penalty killing in the league at 74 percent.

So what does the future hold for the Toronto Maple Leafs and their goaltending situation?  To quote Leafs GM Brian Burke:  “(Justin Pogge) has not earned the right to be here.  We are force-feeding this kid into the NHL.  We need some kind of push on our starting goaltending, some realistic alternative (to Vesa Toskala).  Our coaches seem reluctant to go to Cujo.  I’m not throwing rocks at the coaches and certainly not at Cujo.”

*   *   *   *

A team that oddsmakers occasionally set a total of six goals for is the Washington Capitals.  Despite the higher-than-average total, the Caps have managed an over/under record of 33-24-3. Over the last eleven contests, the Capitals have averaged more than four goals per game. Over backers have been rewarded as the Caps have eclipsed the total in eight of those games.

As the high-scoring Detroit Red Wings continue to ignore Ty Conklin as a viable option in net, Detroit over backers continue to be paid. Detroit has gone over the total nearly 62 percent of the time, including 15 of its last 19 games. When Chris Osgood starts the over is 20-10, while the over is a more even 16-13 with Conklin in net. Despite all of this, the Red Wings' games have had a total of six goals just five times this year.

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