April 18 2013 12:33PM
After the Toronto Maple Leafs, the longest playoff drought in the Eastern Conference belongs to the New York Islanders, who of course made the dance in that Game 82 shootout against New Jersey to knock the Leafs out of contention. They proceeded to get killed by the Buffalo Sabres.
The Islanders are a team that are forgotten about sometimes. They've had long stretches of futility and very little meaningful success out of their four consecutive Stanley Cups in the early 1980s. Since passing the baton to the Edmonton Oilers in the 1984 Cup final, they've played 25 complete seasons. They've made the playoffs in 11 of them and have won just four playoff series.
But they hold down the seven seed coming into Thursday's competition. They play the Toronto Maple Leafs.
April 16 2013 08:55PM
Greg Fiume/NHL Interactive
Irony of all ironies, for the second consecutive night, the Toronto Maple Leafs were visually out-played and out-shot, but the Randy Carlyle tight system did everything as advertised: it restricted scoring chances against.
The Leafs out-chanced the Washington Capitals at even strength. Even in the early going when the Capitals held an edge in zone time, the Leafs kept shots primarily to the outside… although the Capitals seemed like they were trying to force things through and set up deflections. Maybe. Maybe not. Some teams have strategies where they try to fire pucks through shot blockers and pounce on rebounds. Occasionally, it's successful.
Tuesday night, the second half of a back-to-back, with one of the league's hottest offensive squads against a backup goaltender, it worked. Not an awful loss for the Leafs, however. It's a schedule loss. It's one that we could have expected. The Leafs looked at the schedule, started James Reimer against the Devils, and decided to come out of a tough back-to-back with their best chance at two points.
The Leafs lost 5-1.
April 16 2013 01:06PM
We've had some content on the site today so another short preview today with just the general numbers. In the second half of a back-to-back, Ben Scrivens gets the start against the stronger offence. I like that move, giving the start to the backup against the stronger opponent in a back-to-back. There's some aspect of gaming the schedule there: the Devils can't score, so get Reimer up against them and limit them to two or fewer goals almost certainly. Do that and you've got at least one win.
Now, Washington has the stronger offence when compared to the Devils, but they're weaker defensively. They lead the Southeast Division with 48 points… five below the Leafs. The Caps are 5th in the Conference in goals scored but are 8th in goals against.
The Capitals also have Alexander Ovechkin, who's been playing pretty well lately, I've been told.
April 16 2013 11:21AM
"This hug is for penalty killers only, Phil. You don't even go here."
The penalty kill for the Toronto Maple Leafs was beyond awful last night against New Jersey. The Maple Leafs allowed six scoring chances, five of them resulting in difficult stops for James Reimer. He saved his best ones for last.
What was amazing about the awful performance for the penalty kill was that it's rare that the Leafs had given up such a large number of scoring chances when down a man. This season, the penalty kill's problems have been beyond fixed. We have enough data in the sample to be able to suggest that there's really something to what Scott Gordon has done with the penalty kill. There's no more fronting. The squad is getting legitimate pressure on the points and (though I have no data to back this up) it seems they're stingier on allowing zone entries.
April 15 2013 08:39PM
Photo via Graig Abel/NHL Interactive
This wasn't a Monet. This wasn't even a Picasso. If I was an eight year old and painted this, my parents probably wouldn't pin it to the fridge. I doubt they would even if I were an only child.
It's not that there's just some secret batch of numbers that exists in the Internet's reservoir of miscellaneous data that shows the Toronto Maple Leafs got out-played by the New Jersey Devils. Joe Bowen and Greg Millen knew it. The fans at the Air Canada Centre chanting James Reimer's name all night knew it. Everybody on Twitter knew it. Toronto got out-chanced and out-shot and miraculously, won.
It was 2-0 Monday night over the New Jersey Devils. With a single more point, or a single point dropped by the Winnipeg Jets, the Toronto Maple Leafs will clinch a playoff spot.