October 12 2013 11:44AM
The Edmonton Oilers have had a pretty slow start to the season, wins and losses-wise, but there are arguments to be made that the team is actually better off than they have been in quite some time. The team is shooting just 6.8% and getting just .866 goaltending at even strength, but the Oilers have kept their shot differential numbers through each of their first four games relatively even.
Some of Devan Dubnyk's struggles have surely been projected onto Dallas Eakins. Stylistically, one could drum up a narrative that Eakins is the polar opposite of Randy Carlyle. They're both hockey coaches, but Eakins, who quotes the importance of shot differentials in his post-game press conferences and pulls his goalie much earlier than convention (last game against Montreal, Dubnyk was out of the next with 4:33 to go in the third period, the Oilers down by a pair).
Eakins, who has also dressed three low-minute players who can do little more than collect penalty minutes in each of his team's games this season, is also guilty of at least one crime committed by Randy Carlyle. After all, he's a hockey coach, and he's in Edmonton now. He used to be in Toronto.
October 11 2013 12:07PM
I thought I'd made this point in the summer, but it turns out I hadn't. Jonathan Bernier, despite having the same overall save percentage than James Reimer coming into this season, had one of the highest quality start rates between 2007 and 2013, per Rob Vollman in the Hockey Abstract:
October 10 2013 12:34PM
NHL teams are playing at least one game in every city this season, and tonight marks Toronto's visit to Nashville. Fresh off a defeat to the Colorado Avalanche, the Maple Leafs look tonight to earn their first win against a Conference III opponent. The Leafs roster gets a little more inexperienced tonight, with David Broll suiting up for his first ever NHL game, becoming the fourth Leaf this season to do so.
It's tough to drum up interest or storylines between non-conference opponents early on in the season. The Leafs hosted Nathan MacKinnon last time around, so I guess it's fair to say that now they'll be visiting the new home of the No. 1 prospect in the June draft, Seth Jones, who wound up being selected 4th overall. He's found his way onto the first pairing with Shea Weber much faster than anybody anticipated, after Weber's normal partner Roman Josi went down with a concussion.
October 09 2013 12:43PM
Joffrey Lupul has become the latest Maple Leaf to suffer an injury during the Leafs' mini cap crunch. He missed practice this morning with a "bruised calf" and is day-to-day, travelling with the team to Nashville and it's conceivable he may play, but are the Leafs ever scrambling for depth early on in the season so far.
So far the team has had to use Troy Bodie, Trevor Smith, Jamie Devane and Spencer Abbott in place of Nik Kulemin (chipped bone in ankle), Carter Ashton (broken nose), Jay McClement (paternity leave) and Frazer McLaren (who cares). So far the new guys have acquainted themselves well to depth positions on an NHL roster.
October 08 2013 02:17PM
The last time the Toronto Maple Leafs hosted the most recent No. 1 pick was February 6, 2012. The Maple Leafs won that game 6-3, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins went minus-3. The Leafs had won three straight at that point and were 28-19-6, comfortably within striking distance of the playoffs. The only win they'd have in the next 11 games would come, curiously, on the road against the same Edmonton Oilers.
The 2014 Colorado Avalanche have begun their season with two excellent and oddly-watchable games at home against the Anaheim Ducks and the Nashville Predators. They changed around their executive in the offseason more than any other team. Short of firing the general manager Greg Sherman, they surrounded him with Joe Sakic brought in as the new Executive VP, promoted Craig Billington to assistant general manager, and hired Patrick Roy as head coach and also as VP of hockey operations. Sherman is all but a speck of dust in the distance, with the Avalanche organization having placed an anvil above his head to be dropped if the team ever loses three straight games.
More importantly, the team is bringing along Nathan MacKinnon, who is pretty good.