December 08 2013 12:09PM
To quote Steve Dangle, the Leafs "have now won back-to-back games, and given up 50 shots in each of them, and had a different goalie win each of them. This goofy friggin' team."
Even when the Leafs win, they can't do so without escaping criticism. They've blown leads in their last two wins, but have wound up with two points against two teams that they won't have to chase come playoff time. In fact, the win before the one against Dallas, they also gave up 50 shots, this time to Washington. Every game, they gave up a late lead, 50 shots, and won in overtime. They haven't won in regulation in nine games now, and haven't beaten a playoff team in regulation in 19!
So yes, despite a two game win streak, everything isn't rosy in Leaf-land, although "winners of their last two" looks a hell of a lot better than "losers of their last five" which is what everybody was writing on Thursday. The good news is that there's enough games played that trends reverse rather quickly, which was a point I made in the Dallas pre-game.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.