It brings me no joy to report that a one time ECHL reclamation project turned top four defenseman has taken a tour for the worse. I was an early adopter of Justin Holl fandom and it seemed like Mike Babcock would rob us of a good time. Sheldon Keefe gave Holl his opportunity and for one glorious season alongside Jake Muzzin it looked like the good times were never going to end.
Last season was a step back from Holl. The fact that Muzzin also took a step back or was absent due to injury often meant straining what could be achieved by Holl, but he still looked like a capable bottom pairing defenseman who was just being asked to punch above his weight class and fill in on the second pairing due to injuries. This year… well this year has been a mess.
Most notably with Holl’s numbers you can see the spikes in shot attempts against, especially those in high danger areas, and as a result there has been a significant impact on the expected goals against, which tell an interesting story compared to the goals against. It truly could be a lot worse, but the low GF% also speaks to the Leafs not producing offensively with Holl on the ice either. That’s a definite red flag for a defensemen the Leafs have needed to deploy in their top four due to Liljegren’s injury to start the season.
(red dots mean negative for/against differentials and all data is sourced from Natural Stat Trick)
Holl has struggled in the majority of his games this season. He had a strong outing against Washington, and statistically it wasn’t a bad night against San Jose, although the eye test would certainly disagree with the numbers, as Sheldon Keefe had to address Holl’s performance following the game…
Sheldon Keefe on Holl: “Justin likes really direct & honest feedback. We’ve given him that. Certainly, a little more direct here today because it’s been snowballing …” pic.twitter.com/BNsGoRnaaX
— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) October 28, 2022
Last night did not help Holl’s cause and while the reality is he’s safe fo …
Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation