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The Leafs lead the entire NHL in this stat since the trade deadline, which should be exciting for Leafs Nation ahead of the playoffs
BY DEAN CHAUDHRY MARCH 21, 2023 (3:49 PM)
They swung for the fences when they acquired Ryan O'Reilly and Noel Acciari from the St. Louis Blues, then they took things one step further and acquired one of the remaining marquee defensemen on the block in gritty two-way defenseman Jake McCabe - along with speedy winger Sam Lafferty - from the Chicago Blackhawks. They capped off their wish list by trading for Erik Gustafsson and former Leaf Luke Schenn.
For a lineup that already boasted star studded talent and sported a record of 38-16-8, the rich got richer. It takes time to get acclimated to a new team and when you trade for several new players, there's a feeling out process. The Leafs swung early when they acquired Ryan O'Reilly and Noel Acciari in mid-February but have gone 9-4-1 since.
Since the trade deadline specifically, the Leafs have gone 4-2-1 and even though it's a small sample size, they lead the league in the least amount of time spent trailing per game. The Leafs sit atop the throne having only trailed an average of 8:11 minutes per game. The New York Rangers, who acquired Vladimir Tarasenko and Patrick Kane, are second at 10:46 TOI/GP, and the New Jersey Devils who made a move for Timo Meier are third at 14:42 TOI/GP. The Atlantic Division leading Boston Bruins are 5th at 16:20 TOI/GP, followed by the third place Tampa Bay Lightning at 20:31 TOI/GP.
The Leafs have defeated the Calgary Flames, New Jersey Devils, Edmonton Oilers, Carolina Hurricanes, and Ottawa Senators, while losing to the Vancouver Canucks (2 shorthanded goals allowed in the third), Buffalo Sabres (3 goals allowed in the third period), and Colorado Avalanche (2-1 shootout loss).
Their goaltending and defense have been at the forefront of the team's issues for years - including this season, mostly with the injuries and inconsistencies with Matt Murray - however things seem to be clicking with all their new acquisitions and if the goaltending can hold up, things might finally be swinging in their favour.
Their defense is loaded with veterans in Mark Giordano, Morgan Rielly, Jake McCabe, Erik Gustafsson/Luke Schenn, while their goaltending boasts a 2-time Cup winner. These are things that usually help come playoff time but coming face to face with Tampa Bay is going to take a full team effort. Having only been trailing for 8 minutes a game on average is a good start. If they can carry over that success into the playoffs, they could really do some damage this year.