December 07 2013 08:44PM
If the Toronto Maple Leafs make the playoffs this season and everybody asks why, just show them the tape of this 3-2 win over Ottawa. No game will probably match this one in showing off the Maple Leafs' outstanding strengths and horrible flaws. They got two goals and five points from James van Riemsdyk. They blew a 3-1 third period lead. They had the better goalie. They allowed 50 shots. They scored on the powerplay. They took too many penalties.
It all added up to a shootout win by the Leafs over the reeling Ottawa Senators, whose playoff hopes are in all likelihood, ended after tonight. 8 points back with 50 to play is a tough task for any team, and a tougher one for a team that hasn't been able to buy a save, or defence, or win against teams within the division.
Not pretty because the Leafs dropped a point, but harmless, lest that 'ROW' category comes back to haunt them on the final day of the season.
December 07 2013 11:05AM
Leafs second home rink in Kanata
Just a short Leafs GameDay thread today. Headed out of the town to hang out with some family, and won't be able to break down exactly what is wrong with the Ottawa Senators this year. Don't worry, though, the Leafs still have games against the Sens throughout this season and we'll be able to get to that at a later date. I don't think the Sens underlying numbers are enough of an argument to think they'll do any better this year than last. Perhaps they caught lightning in a bottle a year ago, but they were the 7th best possession club in the National Hockey League, upset the Montreal Canadiens in the playoffs and made it ~somewhat~ of a series.
Problems exacerbated in the summer though. The team has no money and while they did a great job of replacing Daniel Alfredsson with Bobby Ryan and Clarke MacArthur, both have whom have been outstanding for Ottawa, the rest of the roster is playing well-below where they were a year ago.
December 06 2013 09:46AM
Collecting and commenting on the major stories surrounding the Maple Leafs as recounted by friendly members of the mainstream media and bloggers. If you have a story you'd like to have featured, sent me an email at email@example.com.
Bit of a rough week for the buds, as their losing streak was pushed to five with a loss to the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday. They needed their goalie to steal them a game against Dallas, and the goalie did, so there's a little bit more optimism in the air Friday morning than yesterday morning.
But we begin the weekly recap with Nazem Kadri's heavy heart.
December 05 2013 10:38AM
Overall, I think that the hockey world overestimates the impact of big winning or losing streaks.
Think of it this way: a contending team wins about 60% of its games, and a lottery team wins about 37%. There's not really a huge deviation from 50-50. If you flip a coin 82 times, even one that's weighted perfectly, you'll run into stretches where heads is shown five or six consecutive times. That doesn't mean that heads "has momentum", it's just that streaks are likely to happen in a sport where most short-term outcomes are random.
This might surprise you: at the height of the Pat Quinn era, from 1998 through 2004, the Leafs averaged an 89-point pace in games after wins. They also averaged a 106-point pace in games after losses. Instead of getting on noticeable streaks, what happened was the exact opposite. The team played like a contender in games after losses, and a bubble team after wins.
So while many people are asking questions of a Leafs team that appears to be reeling, demoralized, banged up and all else, I think this is just the natural progression of a hockey team, good or bad. This five-game losing streak shouldn't change your opinion on the Maple Leafs, nor should it confirm fears. It's just hockey. And they play again tonight.
December 03 2013 10:18AM
There are good hockey teams, and then there are the San Jose Sharks. For those of you unfamiliar with the Western Conference, the Sharks this season have cut through the rest of the West the same way the West has cut through the East. The Pacific Division is the strongest in hockey, and the Sharks have laid waste to it, with a 9-1-2 record.
The Sharks are in Toronto tonight, riding a five-game win streak (although two of those were shootouts) against a visibly struggling Maple Leafs team. The good news is that both Cody Franson and Jay McClement are available to Randy Carlyle to play tonight, after Franson missed the game against the Canadiens and McClement was shaken up twice. The bad news is that Nazem Kadri will not play due to personal reasons. Out of respect for him we'll stray from reporting on what those reasons may be.