December 31 2011 05:13PM
This year for the Maple Leafs Annual (may it R.I.P.) my contribution was a preview of the Leafs' defence. I predicted then that they would be marginally better than last year's incarnation, with the addition of Cody Franson taking Brett Lebda's place as the extra defender, and John-Michael Liles filling Tomas Kaberle's shoes more or less adequately. I'd also hoped that the defence would get a little more help from the goaltending department with James Reimer set to see more action.
So far, the Leafs have allowed 122 goals against, and have an overall goal differential of -6. This isn't good enough for a team that hopes to finish in the top 8 in the East, and it's actually a significant decline over last year's record on December 31st, which was 108 goals against and - good Lord, would you look at that - a goal differential of -22. So the fans are witnessing progress, but it's nearly all coming from the forwards.
Below the jump, I've taken a look at which individuals have performed best using Behind the Net's statistics.
December 31 2011 01:44PM
Well it’s the game we’ve all been waiting for, the showdown for top spot in Group B and the bye in the medal round. Or at least it was supposed to be. Canada held up their part of the rivalry agreement, but apparently someone forgot to deliver the memo to the U.S.
Instead, the New Years Eve game will mean nothing to the Canadians and has the makings of about as much excitement as Canada’s previous three games. That’s right; instead of the mighty obstacle the U.S. was pegged to be from the start, they are now nothing more than a stepping stone. Game time is 8:00 pm EST / 6:00 MST
December 29 2011 01:49PM
Canada plays for the second night in a row, but it should have no bearing on the outcome of this game. The Canadians are rolling right now with 13 goals for and only 1 against, the penalty kill is at 100% and they are getting goals from everyone. In the last game, expectations were put on guys like Mark Scheifele and Ryan Strome; they delivered. Scheifele had two goals in the 5-0 win over the Czech Republic and it seems that one of Canada's biggest strengths when they assemble these teams every year, is that when they need someone to step up, they do.
It's always been a feather in the cap of Hockey Canada and the coaching staff, as to how quickly these teams come together with such limited preparation time.
December 28 2011 06:17PM
Yes, Ron Wilson's contract extension is a show of faith by Brian Burke in his coach, that much is obvious. That Burke offered his coach an extension so early in the season (November) is a somewhat larger show of confidence. Moreover, in all of his years of being a General Manager, Burke has only once canned a coach, which suggests that Burke intends Wilson to coach to the end of his deal - not to fire him halfway through next year.
What is more interesting to me is that fans aren't in the least bit concerned. The times, they have a changed. You see, it wasn't so long ago that Leafs fans freaked out over contract extensions they felt were undeserved. Years of the John Ferguson Jr. era had left everyone on edge, ready to go into hysterics at the slightest sign of mismanagement.
These days, folks seem to have a lot of faith in Brian Burke.
December 28 2011 11:04AM
Canada started off the 2012 World Junior Championship with an impressive 8-1 win over Finland, and now draws the Czech Republic. Last night the Czech’s came off their own opening win, downing Denmark by a score of 7-0. The two teams meet for 29th time since 1977, with Canada holding the edge with a 14-6-8 record. While the Czechs showed some success against Canada in the early 90’s, they have not beaten Canada since 1993.