February 03 2013 10:31AM
Trade talk, draft talk, and the early season's whipping boys! All that and more after the jump!
February 02 2013 09:11PM
Photo via Abelimages/NHLInteractive
Midway through the third period, I asked Leafs fans over Twitter if a 1-0 loss to the Boston Bruins would be considered a positive based on what happened last season.
They answered with a resounding yes, which says something both about the expectations Maple Leafs fans have and how badly things fell apart last year with the team's defence and the goaltending. A cute CBC graphic during Saturday night's game showed a 6-0 record for the Bruins over the Leafs last year and the aggregate goal tally was 36-10.
I'm not particularly convinced that the 2013 version of the Maple Leafs are a hockey team that can make the playoffs without a significant amount of luck. I am closer to being convinced that James Reimer may very well be "the guy". He gets tagged with an 'L' tonight, but kept the game close and winnable for his skaters, in a 1-0 defeat to the 2011 Stanley Cup champs.
Jeff Veillette (Jeffler)
February 02 2013 06:24PM
You know, even with their recent struggles, it would take a spectacular fall for the Toronto Marlies to train the Hamilton Bulldogs in the standings. After all, while Toronto was just a point ahead of 4th in the North, the last place league wide Bulldogs were still 16 points into the Marlies rear view mirror going into tonight. With that said, that didn't stop this game from being a must win. After winning 4 of the last 10 games, losing to a bottom feeder would be a confidence slasher for botht he players and those watching. As well, giving up points in your division, even when it seems impossible, can always have reprocussions. It seemed like those would be realized, but the team many are used to seeing came out in full force for the second period and beyond, taking this game 4-2.
February 02 2013 12:35PM
Any Leaf fan disparaging Dion Phaneuf or Phil Kessel's apparent struggles as a problem of effort should probably heed the words from then-defending Stanley Cup champion general manager Stan Bowman. Bowman was talking to the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics conference about his teams' efforts attempting to more properly gauge player value:
Stan Bowman [discussed] a system the Blackhawks used when Bowman joined the hockey operations department. It was a simple tool to chart out the coach’s player rating for a player over the course of a game on a scale of 1-to-5.
Well, Bowman pointed out, the ratings provided by the coach, tallied up after every game, never matched reality. A coach’s subjective bias, he explained, benefit the third line players and the players who were closer to replacement level. Those players ratings were “unfairly propped up because the expectations for that player are much lower.”
Jeff Veillette (Jeffler)
February 01 2013 09:32PM
Remember when the Toronto Marlies had incredible depth in all positions, and were winning and scoring goals at will, along with having little to no trouble preventing them? Well, they're still capable of doing those things, but with so many players gone, it's not going to come anywhere near as easy as it was earlier in the year. Going into tonight, the Marlies had won 11 straight games against the Rochester Americans. That streak would end, as Toronto fell to the Sabres affiliate 5-1.