Photo credit: The Athletic - https://theathletic.com/373868/2018/06/01/mike-van-ryn-st-louis-blues-assistant-coach/

Maple Leafs Major Problem This Season Revealed, and It's Surprisingly Not the Goaltending

Published December 24, 2023 at 12:14
BY PAT QUINN
     
This summer, Mike van Ryn, a former NHL player, became an assistant coach with the Toronto Maple Leafs, where he oversaw the team's defence after serving as the St. Louis Blues' bench boss for the previous five seasons.

When looking at the Maple Leafs follies this season many will point to goaltending, but a lot more has gone on this season where goaltending cannot be the main issue.

Other issues plaguing the Maple Leafs



The main culprit this season appears to be injuries as the Leafs always appear to have an important player on IR, LTIR or playing injured.


The Maple Leafs have four players currently on LTIR: Jake Muzzin, who will not play again; Matt Murray, who will at least not play anymore this season; John Klingberg, whose injury is very mysterious and can just be a month longer to his career ending; and Mark Giordano, who recently went on the shelf.

Ryan Reaves and Joseph Woll are on IR and are each week-to-week at best. Woll is easily the most important as he appeared to be the only goalie stopping the puck in Toronto.

Ilya Samsonov has not been the same this season and currently is lacking confidence after being injured in training camp, and in season, and not being able to find his game. Tyler Bertuzzi dealt with injury to start the year and just seems to not fit on any line he is on still as he still seems a step behind. Finally, Connor Timmins finally came back from injury but does not look the same at all.

The positive view of the injuries is that they took the two main problem signings from this off-season, Ryan Reaves and John Klingberg, out of the line up. Those two players appeared to allow more goals on the ice than they ever have before, and really did not bring what they were signed to do.

The Leafs were injured frequently last season as well, so it cannot be as big of an issue.

Is the new coach the problem as numbers are different



The defensive statistics of the Maple Leafs from 20222023 and the present team are very different; in fact, he differences between last year's and this year's records are concerning.


From the tweet:

In 2022-23 the Maple Leafs were:

7th in goals against per game
10th in expected goals against per game
13th in shots attempts against per game
8th in scoring chances against per game
15th in slot shots against per game
15th in rush shots against per game
7th in odd-man rushes against per game
10th in zone denial success rate.

The 2023-24 Maple Leafs are:

26th in goals against per game
20th in expected goals against per game
29th in shot attempts against per game
23rd in scoring chances against per game
28th in slot shots against per game
29th in rush shots against per game
25th in odd-man rushes against per game
26th in zone denial success rate.

The Maple Leafs, who have Mike van Ryn in charge of their defence, are in the lowest third of every statistic this year, compared to the top half the previous year. The defensive set up, and players involved, are largely responsible for the stats that stand out the most: shot attempts per game, rush shots against per game, and slot shots against per game.

If the Leafs wish to compete for the Stanley Cup they will need to figure out the defense as soon as possible. With these numbers, not even prime Dominik Hasek could take the Leafs far if they do not shape up, or change coaching schemes.

As Read On Maple Leafs Insider - The biggest problem in Toronto this season has been identified and it's not even the goaltending
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December 24   |   1083 answers
Maple Leafs Major Problem This Season Revealed, and It's Surprisingly Not the Goaltending

Will the Leafs address the defense tactics or get another goaltender?

Goalie39736.7 %
Defense68563.3 %
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