November 14 2013 12:14AM
Nazem Kadri received a match penalty against the Minnesota Wild for an illegal check to the head of Mikael Granlund. If you check the video, you can see that the official on the broadcast right, the veteran Dan O'Halloran, was the one that made the call, and not Trent Knorr, who had been working in his first NHL game.
Anyway, that's elementary. A match penalty means that Kadri is suspended until the league reviews the play, but I have to imagine it gets rescinded. A similar thing happened with Anton Belov, who levelled Claude Giroux on Saturday, but on further review, it was just a strong shoulder-on-shoulder hit that looked a little more violent than it was. I'm not too worried with the hit on Granlund.
But that's not the only play Nazem the Dream has to worry about from Wednesday's game. Kadri also levelled Nik Backstrom in the first period, and the image is forever immortalized as the header of this post.
November 13 2013 09:08PM
Yep. One of those nights.
The Maple Leafs couldn't make it a third shootout victory on the season, but did pick up a point against a tough Minnesota Wild team on the road, giving them three of a possible four against a team that could be a contender in the Western Conference this season.
Perhaps if you've been watching Magnus Carlsen against Viswanathan Anand's chess series this month, this game between the Leafs and the Wild would be more at your pace. To those of us used to the fast-paced, chaotic style of game the Leafs have been running this season, this game could have been seen as a disappointment aesthetically.
But if you're a Leafs fan, it's effectively a tie game against a good team on the road. What happens next?
November 13 2013 12:52PM
While David Clarkson was in the middle of his 10-game suspension, I wrote about how it could actually be a blessing in disguise. The Leafs were near the top of the conference and the league, and had won almost every game to that point. The headlines were all about Reimer vs. Bernier, Bolland's hot start, and MayRay-mania. The crazy hype surrounding Clarkson had subsided.
Now a few injuries later and with a 5-5-0 record in the last 10 games, things have changed.
November 13 2013 12:41PM
When we last ran into the Minnesota Wild, they were on their first win streak of the season. They then lost to the Leafs, despite out-shooting Toronto 37-14, and then lost to Tampa Bay and Florida. Since then, the team has mostly been winning, scraping together a 10-4-4 record since the 3-3-3 start.
Almost every addition the team has made over the last year-and-a-half up front has been to improve the team's skill: Jason Pominville, Zach Parise, Nino Niederreiter and Charlie Coyle. Given how poor of a puck-possession team the Wild were between the dawn of their franchise and as recent as last season, they've sort of become a poster child for shifting institutional philosophy. Despite retaining the coach and the general manager Mike Yeo and Chuck Fletcher, the team has worked to change the stylistic make-up of their team.
I feel the Leafs have the skill to be a team like the Wild, they just need the philosophy. As you'll see below, the Wild are not a team that the (somewhat) struggling Leafs want to run into tonight.
November 12 2013 11:35AM
Nonis also looks back on a time when the Leafs had a better Corsi rating than they do today – and were losing a lot more games. Back in 2009-10, Toronto generated a lot of shots on net but was let down by its own goaltenders.
That period seemed to create skepticism for the Leafs GM about stats that he believes have grown so much in popularity because of fans and media.
“We were outshooting teams on a nightly basis and losing every night,” Nonis recalled. “Our so-called Corsi stat was probably pretty good and right now our Corsi stat sucks. But we’re winning hockey games.”
Credit to Nonis for actually getting at the crux of the issue here. While I'd rather spend my days researching hockey statistics than defending the validity of statistics, ultimately widespread acceptance of the numbers that myself and many others use is going to come down to how well we predict things.