April 27 2013 02:37PM
Here we are. Game 82. Wait. Game 48. I was promised at the start of the season a hectic final day thanks to the short season, but it seems 14 of 16 playoff spots are already locked down, and in the East, the only thing that can change is some shuffling of seeds.
This won't be much of a preview. This time in the season you can throw out the predictive numbers, in part because they won't have too much effect on the final standings, but mostly because teams play at half speed when the games don't particularly matter. This game either doesn't particularly matter. There's talk about going into the playoffs on a high note, but that doesn't matter at all.
Stanley Cup-winning teams are 4-4-2 with 1 tie in their last game of the regular season since the 30-team expansion. The 2002 Detroit Red Wings won just one of their last 10 games before going on to win the Cup.
April 26 2013 11:10AM
Lots of talk about Hart Trophy nominees in recent days. My pick would probably be Alexander Ovechkin, though I have time to listen to cases from John Tavares and Martin St. Louis and Jonathan Toews. Probably Sergei Bobrovsky as well.
For a player who sits 6th in NHL scoring and helped lead his big-market team to the playoffs breaking a nine-year drought, there's surprisingly not too much buzz for Phil Kessel.
April 25 2013 08:52PM
Eliot J. Schechter/NHLInteractive via Getty
I can see narrative-spinners right now suggesting that since the Maple Leafs won a game despite getting out-shot and lost a game after out-shooting the opponent, there's no reason to suggest that out-shooting opponents is bad. That's not exactly the case. The Leafs controlled the game territorially until they took a 4-goal lead, and at that point they took their collective feet off of a very large gas pedal.
It wasn't much of a game tonight at the BB&T Center. For one, the Florida Panthers are a really bad team, that still have some of their top guys injured and mostly made up of players from the draft you didn't watch because you were without cable because you were broke from your fourth year of university and spending your first summer away from home*.
And it was a rout. The Leafs came out with some new lines that will be overanalyzed tomorrow, but overall the team played a great 25 minutes and that's all they really had to do. They took a 4-0 lead, got three or four big stops from James Reimer in the game's waning minutes and won by the same 4-0 score, eventually getting out-chanced and out-shot as the minutes ticked away.
*I guess I should point out that my experiences probably don't match the experiences of the collective. After a while we found a cheap TV and plugged it into the wall and it turns out the previous tenants forgot to cancel their basic cable service.
April 25 2013 10:08AM
Or rather, "What's Nazem Kadri been eating?"
Here's a worrying trend: In the last five games, Leafs 5-on-5 scoring chances with Nazem Kadri on the ice:
|Chances For||Chances Against|
In the last five games, Leafs 5-on-5 scoring chances without Nazem Kadri on the ice:
|Chances For||Chances Against|
April 24 2013 08:42PM
Photo via Scott Audette/NHL Interactive
With three games left in the season, the Leafs not sending out their everyday lineup and ending up with a loss in Tampa Bay might have been a cause for concern. Not on this night. The concern here is that the Toronto Maple Leafs had no answer for a 37-year-old on Tampa Bay's first line. The final scoreline read 5-2 for the BOLTS, who defeated the LEAFS on home ice.
Of course, the 37-year-old on Tampa Bay's first line is a bit of a late bloomer. Martin St. Louis had a hat-trick and somebody finally replaced Sidney Crosby as the top scorer in the NHL so far. Crosby has been out for nearly a month, so the only thing certain is that whoever wins the scoring title will have their accomplishment marked with a big asterisk. If St. Louis ends up on the top, I assume that every player below him on the scoring leaderboard will also be marked with a "†":
1: Martin St. Louis*
2: Sidney Crosby†
3: Steven Stamkos†
4: Phil Kessel†
5: John Tavares†
* - Got a bunch more games than Crosby
† - Yo, younger than 37