The Toronto Maple Leafs are on pace to score exactly one million goals this season.
Maybe not quite, but the offensive juggernaut that the Maple Leafs have iced through five games (yes, it’s an extremely small sample, strength of schedule hasn’t been great, yada yada) have scored at absolute will, boasting an extremely exciting, north-south, fast and fun brand of hockey that hasn’t been seen in Toronto since, umm, like ever.
They’re 4-1 and when they haven’t been losing to the lowly Senators they’ve been beating the piss out of opposing goalies. Here’s how they’ve done it:
- The Powerplay: The Leafs have been lethal with a man advantage, currently converting at an egregious 50-percent clip—31 points higher than league average—which has carried the brunt of the scoring for the team. Toronto’s possession-driven, high-paced offensive structure at 5v5 has put its team’s stars in position to put up a boat load of production, which is exactly what they’ve done.
Four of the five cogs on that stacked top powerplay unit (which also happens to be the current top four point-getters in the league), have gotten off to not only career starts, but historic ones—and it all starts with the two big horses down the middle.
- Auston Matthews: He’s absolutely scorching right now, leading the NHL in goals, points, game-winners, first period goals, goals-per-game, powerplay goals and points, and shooting percentage. The 21-year-old has outscored nine teams all by himself and became just the fifth player in modern NHL history to put up nine tallies through his team’s first five games.
-John Tavares: The prized possession of the summer has somehow crushed the expectations placed on him after joining the Leafs as the team’s biggest free agent signing ever, putting up six goals and ten points through his first five contests on his hometown squad.
Tavares and Matthews, who have absurdly scored 16 of Toronto’s league-leading 25 goals, are inspiring graphics like this one.
Watch out, Wayne!
Obviously that 92-goal mark is absolutely ridiculous and won’t be touched. But it illustrates how dominant the two stars have been regardless of that goal-scoring pace being unsustainable.
-Mitch Marner: While JT and AM34 have no doubt been the trigger men, Marner has been an absolute beast from a playmaking standpoint, as his world-class vision and ability to create space while delivering pinpoint passes to high-danger areas has yielded ten points (seven assists), which trails only *squints, checks notes* defenceman Morgan Rielly in the helper department.
Speaking of Rielly, it is the Leafs’ No. 1 defenceman who is the most surprising of the bunch. The 24-year-old is tied with Matthews for the league lead in points and has put himself in some seriously special company with his sizzling start, becoming the first defenceman and fifth player in the last 30 years to put up 12 points in his team’s first five games.
Is the 1983-84 Oilers record of 446 goals in a season in jeopardy? Probably not. But if the Leafs were to keep averaging five goals per game they’d score 400-plus. What about Gretzky’s goal or points records? Um, nope. But as far as modern powerhouses go, this Toronto team has a chance to rank right up there with the best, and it's easy to see Matthews scoring 50-plus and Tavares having a career season.
And this is all happening with William Nylander—a potential point-per-game player—sitting on the sidelines negotiating a new contract, and with no defence. So just imagine how good they are going to be when they get Nylander back or trade for another monster to help anchor the blueline.
In other words, plan the parade!