February 02 2013 09:11PM
Photo via Abelimages/NHLInteractive
Midway through the third period, I asked Leafs fans over Twitter if a 1-0 loss to the Boston Bruins would be considered a positive based on what happened last season.
They answered with a resounding yes, which says something both about the expectations Maple Leafs fans have and how badly things fell apart last year with the team's defence and the goaltending. A cute CBC graphic during Saturday night's game showed a 6-0 record for the Bruins over the Leafs last year and the aggregate goal tally was 36-10.
I'm not particularly convinced that the 2013 version of the Maple Leafs are a hockey team that can make the playoffs without a significant amount of luck. I am closer to being convinced that James Reimer may very well be "the guy". He gets tagged with an 'L' tonight, but kept the game close and winnable for his skaters, in a 1-0 defeat to the 2011 Stanley Cup champs.
February 02 2013 12:35PM
Any Leaf fan disparaging Dion Phaneuf or Phil Kessel's apparent struggles as a problem of effort should probably heed the words from then-defending Stanley Cup champion general manager Stan Bowman. Bowman was talking to the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics conference about his teams' efforts attempting to more properly gauge player value:
Stan Bowman [discussed] a system the Blackhawks used when Bowman joined the hockey operations department. It was a simple tool to chart out the coach’s player rating for a player over the course of a game on a scale of 1-to-5.
Well, Bowman pointed out, the ratings provided by the coach, tallied up after every game, never matched reality. A coach’s subjective bias, he explained, benefit the third line players and the players who were closer to replacement level. Those players ratings were “unfairly propped up because the expectations for that player are much lower.”
January 31 2013 02:21PM
Tonight marks the 23rd time Phil Kessel has played a game with the Toronto Maple Leafs while on a six-game scoreless skid. If history is any indication, there's no worse chance that Kessel will score in this game than any other on the schedule.
Welcome to the wild world of shooting percentages and slumps.
Kessel has taken a lot of heat for his start. Damien Cox has already traded him in his fantasy world, suggesting the only asset worth holding onto for the future is their first round pick this year. That means he's already given up on not only Kessel, but also Mikhail Grabovski, Nazem Kadri, and even Morgan Rielly.
January 31 2013 11:33AM
Mike Komisarek is going to be held out of the lineup for a second straight contest, this one against the Washington Capitals. The Cody Franson-Mark Fraser pairings had strong games in Buffalo, both according to performance numbers and production numbers. It's a workable pairing, but I think Franson deserves to get a few more minutes. For some reason he hasn't gotten onto the good side of anybody in the organization, or has appeared to.
That's odd that he played more minutes in Nashville his two seasons there per game than he has so far under Randy Carlyle, but the season is still young, and maybe he'll realize at some point that having two defencemen play their off-side in the top four may be stretching expectation. Franson is a rare right shot.
The Toronto Maple Leafs play at home to the Washington Capitals tonight and attempt to win their second straight game for the first time since March 17. They could wrap up January over .500, against some odds. Not all odds, but most odds.
January 29 2013 08:55PM
Well that was unlikely.
Not only has Ryan Miller typically been a beast against the Toronto Maple Leafs in his career, but the Toronto Maple Leafs got in no small way out-played by the Buffalo Sabres at the First Niagara Center Tuesday night, but walked away with a 4-3 overtime win thanks to Matt Frattin's second goal of the contest.
Jay McClement and Cody Franson also scored for the Leafs, who won a real weird one, but you knew that already. I have some detailed scoring chance data ahead, which I guarantee you is information you won't see anywhere else on the World Wide Web.