This week will mark the first playoff appearance by the Maple Leafs in nearly 10 years. While the act of simply extending the season past April has many proclaiming this year a success, there’s no doubt that fans would also enjoy a playoff round win as the proverbial cherry on top of any already thrilling year.
After reading a number of articles over the last week it appears the Leafs need a myriad of different tools in order to win in the postseason, chief among them: confidence, momentum, toughness, focus, enthusiasm, gumption, quick-starts, effort, mental fortitude, and concentration.
While those things are critical ingredients for any Hollywood portrayal of a sporting event, the winner of a hockey game is only 50% of the time the team that spews the greatest number of platitudes. The winner, almost without exception, is the team that manages to score the most goals. As hockey, at it’s very core, has always been, and remains, a goal scoring competition.
The website quanthockey.com provides a chart (shown below) that compares the average number of goals per game in an NHL regular versus post season game. Throughout nearly the entire history of the league goal scoring has seen a decrease going into the playoffs. There are some exceptions, most notably in the 1950s where scoring seemed to increase in the post season. However, during the modern era of the league goals seem to be scored less frequently when the games matter most.