Analysis

NHL Power Rankings: Eastern Conference Taking Control

By Colin Likas
Nov 21, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; The New York Rangers celebrate an empty net goal by center Derek Stepan (middle) against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period at the PPG Paints Arena. The Rangers won 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 21, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; The New York Rangers celebrate an empty net goal by center Derek Stepan (middle) against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period at the PPG Paints Arena. The Rangers won 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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Nov 22, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner (51) is congratulated by teammates on the bench after scoring a first period goal against the Carolina Hurricanes at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 22, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner (51) is congratulated by teammates on the bench after scoring a first period goal against the Carolina Hurricanes at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports /

No. 19: Toronto Maple Leafs

Previous: 20th

Season record: 8-7-3

Air Canada Centre has been very kind to the Leafs this season, as they’ve posted a 7-2-0 record there. The youth movement is still a work in progress for coach Mike Babcock’s crew, but there are good pieces in place.

First overall pick Auston Matthews’ hot start has gotten cooler, as he’s sitting on 13 points. But he’s also one of seven Leafs with 11 points or more. This Toronto outfit just finds the net a lot, especially on the powerplay. The Leafs have a 21.6 percent success rate, good for ninth in the league.

But, much like seemingly all the teams we’ve talked about thus far, the back end just won’t cut it. Frederik Andersen was brought it to carry the goaltending and has done nothing close to that (.908/3.09). The defense in front of him is a mostly learning group, too.

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