April 24 2013 08:42PM
Photo via Scott Audette/NHL Interactive
With three games left in the season, the Leafs not sending out their everyday lineup and ending up with a loss in Tampa Bay might have been a cause for concern. Not on this night. The concern here is that the Toronto Maple Leafs had no answer for a 37-year-old on Tampa Bay's first line. The final scoreline read 5-2 for the BOLTS, who defeated the LEAFS on home ice.
Of course, the 37-year-old on Tampa Bay's first line is a bit of a late bloomer. Martin St. Louis had a hat-trick and somebody finally replaced Sidney Crosby as the top scorer in the NHL so far. Crosby has been out for nearly a month, so the only thing certain is that whoever wins the scoring title will have their accomplishment marked with a big asterisk. If St. Louis ends up on the top, I assume that every player below him on the scoring leaderboard will also be marked with a "†":
1: Martin St. Louis*
2: Sidney Crosby†
3: Steven Stamkos†
4: Phil Kessel†
5: John Tavares†
* - Got a bunch more games than Crosby
† - Yo, younger than 37
April 24 2013 11:30AM
Before the start of the game, Ben Bishop will come out onto the ice as the starting goaltender for the Tampa Bay Lightning and skate diagonally from the home bench to the home net, and I will find this amusing.
It should be a shock to absolutely nobody who reads my work that I was on the high school chess team. I've always taken a bit of a tacticians approach to analyzing sports (the only thing that actually angers me when watching a sports game is when the BC Lions punt on third and short. I can handle devastating touchdowns against, baseballs hammered by opposing players into the gap with the bases loaded and even when I did have a hockey team to cheer for, I could shrug off an overtime winner. But I can't forgive punting on third and short.)
Guy Boucher was also a tactician. And now he is no longer much of anything. Jon Cooper is now the coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and they'll be no closer to a playoff spot.
April 24 2013 03:42AM
A few interesting notes from this week so far. The Toronto Maple Leafs are on the road in Florida, for a back-to-back against the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight and Florida on Thursday. It's a fun wind-down for the rest of the year, and the Leafs get a relatively easy back-to-back against two weak opponents and then get to play a team they've dominated this season. Given how much has fallen right for the Leafs this season, it's not unreasonable that the team could actually contend for the Northeast Division title.
Boston just needs three more points in their three games to clinch, but going 1-2-0 against Tampa Bay, Washington and Ottawa isn't necessarily unquestionable. Stranger things have happened and Boston is currently in one of those slumps where even though there's a lot to like about them, they're trying out too many quick fixes to somehow be ready for the playoffs. That said, it's unlikely, and given the injuries the team has seen this season and last the main thing is to get to the playoffs healthy.
I'm generally a fan of patience. I don't think decisions should be made hastily, and favour an approach where management works tightly with the coaching staff to balance rewarding good play and good production with having an honest eye for what's really going on the ice. Something's been bugging me.
April 23 2013 07:30AM
After about one third of this season was in the books, I wrote here that while the bounces had clearly gone Toronto's way to start the season, it was tough to say if there would be enough time for them to fall way down the standings. Mainly, the goaltending looked strong and I figured if it could stay that way then the Leafs would drop a bit and still be floating around eighth down the stretch. A steal here, a steal there, and they could get in.
April 22 2013 03:24AM
Scattered thoughts that I could expand on later this week... we talk Joffrey Lupul, more Corsi crap, James Reimer and the Vezina Trophy, a Leafs defenceman who belongs in the lineup, and Garret Sparks' highlight from Sunday's game.
No. 1 - Joffrey Lupul keeps going
The above image is a screen cap of Joffrey Lupul after he scored the clinching goal against Ottawa. It put Toronto up 4-1 and gave them a playoff berth.