January 03 2014 03:48AM
Well we've hit the midway point of the season. Technically, we've already finished Game 42, but there was a small turnaround between Games 41 and 42, and a nice clean day on the calendar for us this morning to fit in this little post breaking down the first half of the season for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Overall, the Leafs are doing pretty well. They're (slightly) out-performing my expectations, on pace for 92 points over 82 games. The big issue with their record is the low number of regulation and overtime wins, which is the first tiebreaker at the end of the season. Despite being 5th in the East in points, the Leafs are 12th in ROW, which is something to keep an eye on if the standings tighten up.
But really, they aren't. The Leafs began 'Deathcember' with four points of separation on the final Wild Card spot, played like crap, and then recharged and won three straight. They're now… four points up on the final Wild Card spot, with the Detroit Red Wings as a buffer. I didn't think I'd say it this late in the season, but Toronto are sitting in good position. And that has me worried.
Data below is found via BehindTheNet, HockeyAnalysis and ExtraSkater. All three are really indispensable resources if you are a hockey fan. Visit them, learn to navigate them, and a light will go off and you'll start to see hockey played a little differently in your mind. Below are some first half observations using a little of the above.
January 02 2014 06:12PM
BEST-OF PART TWO!!
Bask once again in the awesomeness that has been the Steve Dangle Podcast. If you like hockey, strippers, and crazy parties, then you've come to the right place (sort of)!
January 02 2014 12:06PM
The Leafs win on the biggest stage they've ever been on. I approve.
January 01 2014 03:50PM
Photo via @Jeffler
When James van Riemsdyk scored the 1-1 goal midway through the second period, a roar went up that had never quite been heard before at a hockey game. There were about 50 thousand Maple Leafs fans in attendance at Michigan Stadium, outdoors, untempered by obnoxious arena music or drowning goal horns.
Playing inside certainly has its benefits. The ice conditions are better, the sight lines are better, and games don't take nearly four hours to complete. Still, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the record-breaking crowd in attendance. Despite the snow and gimmickry, it's nice to have a game every once in a while that reminds us what sports are: a welcome distraction from daily life, full of absurdity, silly rules, and unfairness.
Toronto won the game 3-2 in a shootout. Tyler Bozak, the most polarizing athlete in Toronto, got the winner. It was just one of those games, and it was awesome.
January 01 2014 12:21PM
Dave Nonis just made the first trade of the New Year! It's neither a Big Blockbuster nor a Big Disaster, so no problem on this being made right in the middle of the Winter Classic. Toronto sent John-Michael Liles and prospect defenceman Dennis Robertson to the Carolina Hurricanes for Tim Gleason.
Gleason is a 31-year-old, left-shot defenceman, listed at 6'0" 217 pounds. Despite being a reliable shutdown man for the Hurricanes during his mid-to-late-20s, injuries have caught up with him and his mobility has been lacking. So far this season he's missed 22 games with various injuries.
It's a sideways move, aimed at getting two struggling defencemen a change of scenery. I'm not too upset.