February 07 2013 11:26AM
Hey look who used to play for Winnipeg! (River City Sports Blog)
There were five seasons when the Winnipeg Jets and Toronto Maple Leafs shared a division. From 1980 to 1982, they were both part of the Campbell Conference's Norris Division. In 1995 and 1996, both teams belonged to the Central Division in the Western Conference.
Not the current version of the Jets, mind you, although I believe the City of Winnipeg has a better claim to the history of the original Jets franchise, WHA and all, than the City of Glendale does. Some of the season ticket holders at tonight's game at the MTS Centre will be old-timers who once had season tickets to see Bobby Hull, Dale Hawerchuk and Teemu Selanne. For all the superstars the Jets had, the first run Jets between 1979 and 1996 were groups synonymous with regular season mediocrity, that often found itself one-and-done in the playoffs.
February 05 2013 08:42PM
After two shaky games, Toronto went on the road and picked up their fourth win on the season away from the Air Canada Centre, playing their game against a weak opponent, capitalizing on their early chances and getting out of Washington with a 3-2 win.
There was a time, perhaps, when the Verizon Center was a tougher place to play. That's no longer the case. The Washington Capitals appear to have squandered the talent they had that had them as a contender each season, but other than Alex Ovechkin and Mike Ribeiro this evening, the forwards looked disinterested, the forwards looked sloppy, and Michal Neuvirth allowed a brutal goal to Korbinian Holzer that stood up as the game winner. Analysis below.
February 05 2013 12:01PM
The Toronto Maple Leafs enter a game on a two-game losing streak for the second time this season. The first time they did it, they escaped with a 4-3 dramatic overtime win over Buffalo with Matt Frattin as the hero. The Toronto Maple Leafs also enter a game against the Washington Capitals for the second time this season. The first time they did it, they escaped with a 3-2 dramatic regulation win with Matt Frattin as the hero.
The obvious conclusion here is that Frattin steps up in big moments, and against the Washington Capitals. That is called "narrative", gentlemen, a flimsy premise based on one or two pieces of anecdotal evidence ignoring all context surrounding the event.
February 04 2013 09:02PM
Photo credit Abelimages via NHLInteractive
Now we're into uncharted territory.
Phil Kessel had a handful of six-game goal-less stretches in his Maple Leafs career. He's had seven and eight, even a nine-goal stretch, but this is the first time he's gone ten. I don't even know what to write in this space anymore. Early in the game, Alex Semin took away a surefire goal from the mouth. On a third period powerplay, Cam Ward slid across to rob him on an excellent Tyler Bozak set-up. There's no rhyme or reason to why this continues. Kessel has been getting two or three A-grade opportunities per game, yet nothing's working. No workmanlike goals, no shots, he's hitting posts, crossbars, pads…
Carolina won, but it didn't feel like they should have. It was a different variation of a common Maple Leafs-theme, where a Southeast division team blows out the Leafs in a midweek game at the Air Canada Centre. Except usually in those games they start poorly, and Toronto came out flying in this one, jumping on several Carolina turnovers but converted only once before the Canes settled in. After Matt Frattin scored to make it 1-0 Toronto, the Canes got four goals from four different goal scorers unanswered to win it by a 4-1 final. Analysis below.
February 04 2013 03:42PM
Hockey fans familiar with the work of Hockey Prospectus' Rob Vollman may recognize the "Player Usage Chart", which is an excellent way to visualize the way players in a system are being used, and how successful they are.
Below the jump, I have an early season look at the Toronto Maple Leafs' chart. Even though the season is but eight games old, a couple of things popped out at me. The horizontal axis of the chart represents the percentage of times a player started in the offensive zone relative to the defensive zone. The vertical axis of the chart represents the quality of competition a player has faced by Behind The Net's Corsi Rel QoC measure. Finally, a players' circle and its respective colour show how successful a player is at his role.