I recently got around to updating my database for the 09-10 season and, in looking over the EV stats for each team, I noticed that the Leafs continue to have one of the best corsi ratios in the league at EV with the score tied.
I think that this is unusual for a couple reasons.
For one, the 08-09 Leafs were a poor team according to this metric. While last year's squad outshot the opposition in a general sense, their corsi ratio with the score tied was 0.94, good for 21st in the league. Thus, if one considers corsi ratio with the score tied to be a crude measure of a team's ability at even strength, the Leafs would appear to be one of the most improved teams in the NHL (looking strictly at EV play, of course).
Secondly, despite soundly outshooting the opposition, the Leafs have one of the worst EV goal differentials in the league. I haven't filtered out empty netters yet, but only the Lightning, Oilers, and Jackets are worse than Toronto in terms of goal differential at even strength. This despite directing some 500 more shots towards the other team's net at EV than their opponent over the course of the season. The effect isn't as extreme when the score is tied -- they're only -7 -- but the unusual profile remains.
The tendency to outshoot without outscoring has led some to question whether the Leafs do, in fact, outplay the opposition at even strength, or whether the shot numbers are deceiving.
One way to settle the issue is to look at the Leafs scoring chance numbers. If Toronto's scoring chance ratio broadly parallels its shot ratio at EV, then that ought to dispel notions that the Leafs don't legitimately outplay the opposition, or that they shoot from everywhere.
Slava Duris, whose blog can be found here, has been recording scoring chances for Toronto over the course of the season. To date, he's posted 53 of the games for which he's recorded chances.
Taking those 53 games in particular, I looked at how many even strength scoring chances the Leafs had with the score tied, and how many their opponents had. I then determined how many shots the Leafs directed towards the opposition's net -- again, only at EV with the score tied -- in those same 53 games, and did the same for their opponents. The raw data can be viewed below.
Overall, there were 474 even strength scoring chances with the score tied in the 53 games sampled. Of those 474 chances, Leafs generated 252, whereas the opposition generated the remaining 222. Thus, the Leafs scoring chance ratio with the score tied was 1.14.
In terms of corsi with the score tied, the Leafs directed 1008 shots towards the opposition's goal, and had 915 directed toward their own, thus giving them a corsi ratio of 1.10.
In other words, the Leafs actually did better in terms of scoring chances than in terms of corsi over the 53 games examined.
Granted, this doesn't allow one to conclude that the Leafs are a better team than their corsi ratio would suggest. For example, if we assume that Toronto's underlying scoring chance ratio is identical to its corsi ratio (1.10), then the probability of it generating at least 252 chances out of 474 randomly selected chances is 0.376 (or, if one prefers, the probability of it having a corsi ratio at least as good as 1.14 in a sample of 474 chances). In other words, the two values are not significantly different from each other.
Nevertheless, it would appear that the Leafs have managed to outplay the opposition at even strength over the course of the season, their rotten goal differential notwithstanding.