The Toronto Maple Leafs' goaltenders have been excellent this season. While every team hopes for this kind of netminding, what it has done is mask some very real defensive issues.
The Leafs are giving up 34.9 shots per game, and that has them ranked 27th in the NHL. If the team's save percentage wasn't as strong as it is, they would be giving up another goal or two per game.
Obviously there are no easy solutions to this, but the Leaf forwards have to provide more support to the besieged defensemen. Outside of Dion Phaneuf, Paul Ranger and to a lesser extent Cody Franson, the defense is young and on a steep learning curve.
Talented young defensemen Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner simply have to play more hockey to get the experience needed to be better defenders. It's a dilemma for the coaching staff as player development has to always take a backseat to winning at the NHL level.
The team also has to get better at puck moving in their own end. On many nights their team breakout has looked either disjointed or non-existent as teams recognize that pressure down low will cause the Leafs fits.
The team must also play better in the neutral zone and at their own blue line. Losing battles here leads to direct chances against. The Leafs have to win more neutral zone puck battles and do a better job of defending at their own blue line before teams can even get established in their zone.
While the Leafs benefit from odd-man rushes, they also give up a number of these against which puts added pressure on both the defense and the goaltenders.