February 02 2017 06:38AM
Photo Credit: Raj Mehta/USA TODAY SPORTS
We've written countless words on why the Leafs have taken a bigger-than-expected leap in their climb to contention this season, and there will continue to be plenty of pieces digging into why that is. But the simplest catch-all answer is just that the rookies have been far more NHL-ready than advertised, and that's elevated what was left of the existing core.
Mike Babcock relies heavily on players like Matthews, Marner, and Nylander to generate offence, along with givin plenty of penalty-killing responsibilities for guys like Brown, Soshnikov, and Hyman. How they've responded - with huge point totals, rock solid special teams, and good underlying numbers for the most part - has been nothing short of mindblowing for a fanbase that's been hurting like this one has.
But now that the Leafs find themselves in what will be a serious grind for one of those last couple playoff spots in the east, is it time to turn up the dial on a few of these guys? Sure, these rookies have been pouring in the goals and racking up exciting wins to this point, but you could argue there's still another gear to hit yet, and Babcock can run those horses harder if need be.
February 01 2017 03:26PM
Photo Credit: Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY SPORTS
Nearly every time Elliotte Friedman drops one of his "30 Thoughts" columns, the hockey world stops and scrambles to react to whatever neat nuggets of information he spent days hiding under his sleeve. Today's was a particularly interesting one: the Salary Cap might stay stagnant this upcoming season, making no movement from the $73,000,000 teams are operating under this year.
February 01 2017 11:18AM
Photo Credit: Charles Leclaire/USA TODAY SPORTS
The Montreal Canadiens, archrivals of the Toronto Maple Leafs and leaders of the Atlantic Division, have an abundance of defencemen and players returning to their lineup. As such, today was a tough decision day for them, and their first move as such has been to place Mark Barberio on waivers.
In this case, there is absolutely no reason why the Leafs shouldn't put a claim in.
February 01 2017 10:36AM
Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski/USA TODAY SPORTS
It is a good time to be a Mitch Marner. Now an emerging star on his hometown team, it doesn't get much better than this. Add a NHL rookie of the month honor to it all, you begin to see why so many are excited about the Leafs' season.
Just how good of a month was it and is this just a prelude of things to come for him and the Leafs?
February 01 2017 08:22AM
Hockey is a 60-minute game and the Leafs missed the first 20.