January 15 2014 09:26AM
Phil Kessel is an incredible offensive talent.
Now that I’ve blown your mind with that hyper-obvious statement, we can continue.
Kessel is great. He’s tallied 45 points in 48 games (though he is just coming off a nine-point, 15-game stretch) and since he joined the Leafs in 2009, only 19 players have more points and only four have more goals. And he’s done that largely without the benefit of what people would agree is a first line center, playing 2,770 of his 4,265 even strength minutes with Tyler Bozak (and less than 415 minutes with any other pivot).
When Bozak was extended this offseason, the crux of the argument against him was that playing with Kessel inflated his numbers, which is undeniable (current piping-hot-streak notwtihstanding, I guess). But I’ve become curious of late just how important Kessel is in bringing up the play of his teammates.
January 14 2014 08:42PM
The Isotopes win a road game in regulation! The Isotopes win a road game in regulation! The Isotopes win a road game in regulation!
The Toronto Maple Leafs had two opponents Tuesday night: the Boston Bruins, and a very stubborn clock that just couldn't tick down fast enough in the final seconds. Despite being down twice in the first period, the Leafs came back and stuck to their gameplan—they got goals on the powerplay, saddled onto Jonathan Bernier's back and held on as he giddy-upped across the finish line.
Toronto won 4-3. Bernier put together his second consecutive strong start, the game was entertaining, nerve-racking and physical, and Tyler Bozak stayed hotter than a cute girl mowing down suicide wings. Recap below.
January 14 2014 11:33AM
Leafs fans celebrating on Yonge St. after the team's last regulation win on the road
Back to the grind…
We're in that time of year where we have to predict records for what the Leafs need to finish with to make the playoffs. I had 18-14-4 before Sunday's game but I guess now it would be 17-14-4, but probably closer to 18-14-2 because I don't like the Leafs' chances of making the playoffs without getting a few more regulation or overtime wins here or there. Remember, that's the first tiebreaker after games played and I'm not sure how feasible it is that Toronto can pass any team in ROW between now and the end of the year. They're tied with Washington, but five back of Detroit, and five is an awfully big number at this level.
But more importantly, just win in regulation more so we can stop talking about it. The Leafs are 12-20 in regulation after beginning the year not just 6-1 overall, but 8-4 in regulation. That means they're 4-16 in games decided after 60 minutes since the start of November. Ugh, be better so we don't have to talk about how bad you are. Team is in Boston tonight, EXACTLY what the doctor ordered.
January 13 2014 10:57AM
The Leafs snag two points in the standings and I get sentimental about Jaromir Jagr.
January 13 2014 09:17AM
Toronto Maple Leafs fans appear to have hit a tipping point, and the vitriol and social media over the past few games has gotten extreme.
It's not difficult to see why - after a hot start, the Leafs have been the worst team in the NHL, full stop, since the beginning of November. Just five regulation wins and 29 points in the past 34 games, and now the Leafs find themselves barely hanging on to ninth in the Eastern Conference.
The playoffs seemed a foregone conclusion early, and those who supported the team's offseason moves appeared vindicated. The season certainly isn't lost with 36 games still to play, but the playoffs now seem like an "if things break right" proposition.
What follows is a look at some of the Twitter criticism of two key players, Dave Nonis and Randy Carlyle, and will at times contain offensive language (from respondents, not myself).
(Note: This was written before Sunday's game but has been slightly edited since. Despite a win that saw New Jersey lose more than Toronto win [their shootout record, woof], I think many of the feelings will remain the same.)