January 13 2011 11:57AM
This is a representative gif of the road leading to Jobing.com Arena for the 40 Coyotes home games this year in which they don't play the Maple Leafs. To say that the Coyotes are having problems filling their 17,534 seats is an understatement. But that problem will take a one night hiatus today because the best traveling team in hockey is riding into town on a 4 game winning streak. And not just winning, but winning in style. The offense has exploded for 22 goals in that 4 game streak led by All-Star Phil Kessel who has 5 goals in that span. Not to be outdone by one man, the Kulemin-Grabovski-MacArthur line has combined for 10 goals themselves. As great as the offense has been, the best stat line for the Leafs is held by rookie goaltender James Reimer who is 4-1 in the 5 games he's started this season while posting a .947 save %. Yeah, he's pretty good and that's why Wilson has yet again delayed Reim Time's "inevitable" return to the AHL and given him the start tonight.
Also on a winning streak are the Coyotes who have won 2 straight and currently sit 6th in the West with 51 points. How have they earned themselves a current playoff spot? Through very timely play. Phoenix is one of only 3 teams to be in playoff position and have a negative goal differential; 121 goals for, 123 goals against. (Anaheim and Tampa Bay being the other two.) Whereas last year they were buoyed by fantastic goaltending from Bryzgalov and Labarbera, this year they being held aloft through a scoring by committee philosophy. They have 15 players with 10 or more points and 14 players with 5 or more goals. Only 1 player has more than 30 points, defenseman Keith Yandel with 31. Only 1 player has moe than 10 goals, Scottie Upshall with 12. They are in essense, a hydra. A multi-headed beast that can only be killed if all of it's heads are removed. A task that I'm sure Colton Orr would relish.
One thing that's interested about this year's Coyotes versus last year's Coyotes is that while last year they owned a league best 19-7 record for games that went past regulation; this season they are 2-9 with games that finish in OT or Shootouts. That's the second worst record in the league after Ottawa's dismal 0 for 6. So continuing with my bucking of tradition in calling Leafs wins, I'm suggesting to Coach Wilson that he has the Leafs play for a tie in regulation leading to an easy OT win. Nothing else more to say about this match but GO LEAFS GO!
January 12 2011 04:09PM
Scoring Chances for NHL Game Number 20641
This was definitely James Reimer's toughest game yet, as he had to face 26 San Jose scoring chances in all.
January 12 2011 11:35AM
For two periods, in San Jose on Tuesday night, the Toronto Maple Leafs showed very little. They fired twenty harmless shots at Antti Niemi. Meanwhile, in their own end, rookie netminder James Reimer was standing on his head trying to hold off the terrible trio of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley. Then the third period started, and the Leafs did four things - THE RIGHT THINGS - that guaranteed them victory and a three-wins-in-three-games start to this road trip.
January 11 2011 02:51PM
The human shoulder is an amazing device. Mikhail Grabovski has decided to use his to carry his business associates. On Tuesday, Maple Leafs’ fans realized something that, apparently, the National Hockey League didn’t. This season, Grabovski - and his shoulders - are all-stars. Since December 6th, Grabovski has done something that doesn’t happen a lot in professional sports but, when it does, it’s magnificent to watch. Grabovski has thrown an entire team on his back and said, “Let’s go, boys. I’m leading us to victory.” And, what’s made even more of a difference lately, is that his teammates have decided to use their shoulders too.
January 11 2011 11:59AM
There are two big losing streaks at stake in tonight's game. San Jose has lost their last 4 games and currently sit in 11th place in the West. Yeah, that's right, the perennial President's Cup challenging San Jose Sharks are at the moment out of the playoff picture. My how the mighty have fallen. The other losing streak on the line belongs to the Toronto Maple Leafs, that being the fact that they haven't won in San Jose in 14 years. Based on recent play, I gotta think that the Sharks will be playing the role of Slumpbusters tonight and here's why. James Reimer is once again in between the pipes for the Buds. That's right, after verbally being sent down to the Marlies twice in the past two days, James Reimer is still with the Leafs and according to Coach Wilson getting his third straight start. This is music to Leafs fans ears.
Starting in goal across from him will be Stanley Cup Champion Antti Niemi. Niemi is arguably having the worst season of all the Blackhawks castoffs as his 9-12-2 record and .908 sv% show. Really though, did anyone think he was even all that good last year? I sure didn't. Hell in the Stanely Cup Finals he only had 1 game with a save % over .875. Yeah, that's pretty awful. Think they should have just re-signed Nabokov? I bet they do. Good news for them, they still can but probably won't with only $1M in cap space available.
Follow me about the jump for more on tonight's game and San Jose's struggles.