February 24 2013 10:51AM
After the jump: the Nation Network turns five, predicting the end-of-season standings, talking about dirty hits and franchise-defining trades, and lots more good stuff from the past week.
February 23 2013 09:09PM
"What's wrong with your teeth?"
There's so little to talk about in regard to this hockey game and yet so much. I find the contrast between the Ottawa Senators and the Maple Leafs' last opponent Buffalo fascinating. Both are perennial bubble teams with some stars left over from the era right after the first lockout. The teams, however, could not be more different in the way they deploy their lineup and their philosophy to fixing holes.
Toronto lost an absolute gut-wrencher. Playing from behind for much of the latter half of the game, the Leafs tied it up on a powerplay goal from Clarke MacArthur—2-2. After two missed nets on glorious plays set up by MacArthur with the score tied, Ottawa forced an offensive zone draw against the Senators late in the game. Toronto got the right personnel, but a bad rebound and Carl Gunnarsson failing to tie up Colin Greening allowed him to bat an elevated puck into the net with :24 seconds to go.
Again, there was a lot going on in this game, even though on the scoreboard it didn't look like it.
February 23 2013 01:32PM
Last spring, the Toronto Blue Jays went into the season with increased expectations. They won 12 of their last 22 games, including their last game on the season, to finish at .500, a symbolic marker if anything, and in the offseason got a glut of reinforcements from their prospect system to shore up their rotation and their infield. Young Brett Lawrie looked like he was on the verge of stardom, giving the Jays three right-handed power bats along with home run champ Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion.
Then, oh boy, the disappointment. The Blue Jays suffered injuries everywhere in their lineup. Closer Sergio Santos didn't make it out of the first month. Every good pitcher in the rotation suffered some sort of weird injury—three starters ended up on the 60-Day DL. The team got awful luck and finished 16 games below .500.
This isn't a baseball blog, and I'm by no means a baseball expert, but I do recognize how tough it is to come into a season with some high expectations and then see every player leave the lineup to some unfortunate accident. Welcome to the 2013 Ottawa Senators season.
Jeff Veillette (Jeffler)
February 22 2013 02:59PM
It's very rare for those in the hockey know around Toronto to agree on something. But, at this second, there is one subject that is an exception to this rule, and it's Jake Gardiner. With nobody sure if the Leafs will continue their success and approximately fourteen thousand defenceman up on the current roster, everybody still has a critical need to see their promising young crown jewel back in the lineup. The question is simple; when does he come back up from the Toronto Marlies?
The answer? That I can't give you - I'm not Dave Nonis or anybody else involved with the decision. But I will say this. If it were me, it's not for a little while yet. This isn't to say that Gardiner has "fallen off", or to scare you in any way, but at this second, he's not ready.
February 22 2013 12:56PM
The Leafs take advantage of the new-look Buffalo Sabres. Speaking of which, who the hell are the Buffalo Sabres?