January 28 2014 11:19AM
When Steven Stamkos went down, I think too many people were willing to write off the Tampa Bay Lightning. Stamkos is many things: he's a generational talent, probably the best scorer in the game, a deserving Olympian and, as it turns out, pretty inconsequential to the success of the Lightning.
Not to say the Bolts are better off without Stamkos, but Steve Yzerman has built up his minor league system with so many young, skilled players that the difference isn't felt that much. When a player gets injured, you don't lose his production entirely—you lose the difference between that player and whoever his replacement is, and as it turns out, Stamkos' replacement on the top line, Tyler Johnson, is having a fine season and has been red hot lately.
Like the Leafs, however, the reason for Tampa Bay's record lies between the pipes: Ben Bishop leads all NHL starting goalies in save percentage.
Jeff Veillette (Jeffler)
January 27 2014 09:03PM
Hey! We tried this thing during the offseason, where I answered people's questions about the Leafs and Marlies once per week. It lasted two consecutive weeks. I tried to revive it a month or so later, which lasted one week. Moral of the story?
Jeffler sucks. Don't do a hockey mailbag when people aren't playing hockey. Also, Jeffler Sucks. Let's go for three weeks and beyond this time! Mondays are the goal, though it could slip into another day if gamedays or major stories get in the way.
From this point forward, if you'd like to submit a question, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet your question with the hashtag #TLNMailbag. Tagging @Jeffler would be a fun courtesy, but unneccessary, especially if you're closing in on character limits. You can also leave your question in the comments of this post. Without further ado...
January 27 2014 08:25PM
The cat's out of the bag: This kid's good!
Leafs prospect Connor Brown just became the first player in Erie Otters history to score 100 points in a season. Even more insane: He did it in just 48 games. Um... Wow. Holy crap.
Jeff Veillette (Jeffler)
January 27 2014 02:02PM
Photo Courtesy of Mike Ivall / Marlies.ca
A two week road trip is one of those things that sounds great in theory, but eventually becomes taxing and tiring to the point of losing all appreciation of the experience. Particularly when the trip is for work, and your work requires you to go all out for extended periods of time. If I was a pro hockey player and you told me I was playing in seven cities in fourteen days, I'd consider changing careers. That's probably why I'm not a professional hockey player.
The point being, the Toronto Marlies had that trip, going an impressive 5-1-1 over the stretch. On Saturday, they returned home for the second and third of back-to-back-to-back games. Here's what went down:
January 27 2014 11:05AM
Not a whole lot to get to today. I'm skeptical that the Maple Leafs have truly improved lately, even after getting points in seven of the last eight games. They're still a floundering team, possession-wise, and I think the difference in results between now and every game since November is related to shooting or save percentages. They've had their share of good games (Colorado and Winnipeg are good examples) but still have trouble winning games unless their goaltender is on fire.
I wanted to get to Nazem Kadri, who is currently on pace for a 50-point campaign over a team 82-game season. This would be a career-high, obviously, since this is his first full season in the NHL. I think there was some general disappointment that Kadri "failed" in his miniature tryout on the first line while Tyler Bozak was injured, especially since Bozak got hot as soon as he drew back into the lineup.