December 23 2013 12:09PM
Twas the night before the Christmas break when heard through the din
Some creatures called Leafs fans, all hoping for one more win
The jerseys were hung in the visitors locker room with care
Back home in Toronto, the streets were icy and bare
People snug in their houses, with hot chocolate and Leafs snuggies
Visions of a second regulation win in 18 games, be it pretty or ugly
And the Rangers the opponent, they've been struggling of late too
With 14 games on tonight's schedule, none more important for these two
Should the Leafs win, it will be a second in three for the blue and white
Stay safe and stay warm, Merry Christmas and good night
December 22 2013 01:24AM
It's been a wild week for James Reimer. First, he called out his team after their performance against Florida, re-iterating that there is no room for excuses. The money line was right at the end of his rant: "All you can focus on is what you yourself can do to get prepared and then be your best, and trust that your teammate across from you is doing the same thing"
Reimer came out and had a great game a couple of days later against Phoenix. His start was an odd one, since typically coach Randy Carlyle has switched goalies after losses. It came out after the game that Jonathan Bernier had been nursing an injury, and Carlyle had let the injury dictate his choice on the goaltender ahead of one of Reimer's better starts of the season.
That's not a reason for #TeamReimer to complain, but you could argue that Carlyle prematurely pulled Reimer against Detroit after a brutal first period from the Maple Leafs that saw the team down 3-1 after the first. Glenn Healy was talking up the look that Reimer and Carlyle shared at the start of the second period, pictured above. Is this… a controversy?
December 21 2013 08:55PM
By listening to Glenn Healy all game, I learned a whole lot about how goaltending works. If your team goes down early thanks to some lousy defensive structures, it's okay to blame the goalie and pull him, because that will spark the team!
All throughout the Hockey Night broadcast of the Toronto and Detroit game, viewers were hit over the head with this bizarre narrative that Randy Carlyle pulling James Reimer after the first period "sparked" the Leafs to a degree. Anybody with a basic understanding of hockey analytics have heard about score effects: a team that is trailing is more likely to generate more shots on net, so despite going into the first break down 3-1, the Leafs weren't out of it, especially against a shallow Detroit team down to its third goalie and dressing three real NHL defencemen.
Toronto came back to make it 4-3, but then gave up the tying goal, generated the better chances in overtime (as they often do when they're allowed to use their speed) but it was all for naught. Daniel Alfredsson and Pavel Datsyuk scored the goals in the shootout and the Red Wings came away with a 5-4 victory.
December 21 2013 01:16PM
It's fitting that the next time these two teams play will be outside in the freezing Michigan cold, because these two teams are icy right now, in that over the last month or so, have probably been the two most disappointing teams in the league.
The Red Wings have gone 3-5-2 since the start of December, and the Leafs are at 4-6-0 in the month, after entering it already on a 4-game losing streak. Now, you know that previous games results don't carry over to the next game, and I know that previous games results don't carry over to the next game, but casual fans don't like to hear that, and advertisers don't like to hear that either.
Officially, however, this is just another hockey game, played between the 4th and 5th placed teams in the Eastern Conference division that will send five teams to the playoffs in all likelihood. It's an Original Six clash! Former Norris Division, and Central Division foes! Two teams that used to be in the friggin' Western Conference. The last time these two teams played as divisional opponents was March 18, 1998. Norm Maracle stopped 20 of 22 shots and Kris Draper scored twice in a 5-2 win for Detroit.
December 19 2013 08:48PM
The Leafs major problems this year: a lack of depth scoring and a bevy of shots against. After the first period, the Leafs were leading 1-0 on a goal from Troy Bodie, and held a high-octane (seriously!) Phoenix team to just five shots through 20 minutes.
James Reimer ripped into his team after the performance against Florida, and rightfully so, and the Maple Leafs came out with a much better effort against Phoenix Thursday night, snapping a two-game losing streak. It probably doesn't matter that the Leafs blew another third period lead. Two points is two points, and perhaps the Barilkosphere will calm down for the next few days.
There's still the matter of the single regulation win in the last 16 games, but after the late tying goal, the Leafs got through a high-event overtime period and wound up winning in a shootout that included the greatest troll move ever pulled by one Mike Smith. 2-1 Maple Leafs win.