November 02 2011 09:10AM
With the Leafs sporting an unlikely record of 7-3-1 on the first day of November many people are asking: when will the bottom fall out? This Leafs team, while playing well, has benefited from a significant amount of luck over the first month of the season. For an illustration of this look no further than their record in one goal games: 5-1-1. Only two of their wins were by more than one goal, the opening 2-0 win over the Habs and the 4-2 victory over the Rangers. While the fan section of my brain remains steadfastly assured that this team is indeed too legit to quit, the rational writer section knows that the Leafs going to lose more than three games this month. They might even lose two in a row, something they have yet to do this season. That’s fine. Every team does. What they need to avoid is their habit of losing more than 5 straight games, something they have managed to accomplish each year since the lock-out. How’s that for consistency!
November 01 2011 03:53PM
We've sort of known for a while that Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson likes looking at numbers to evaluate player performance, but never were we given any indication that he looks at more than goals and goals against. That is, until James Mirtle at the Globe got Wilson to admit that he tracked scoring chances when discussing the play of Dion Phaneuf.
While a good eye for on-ice talent can be helpful, so can a blend a statistical analyses. A good defensive play can't be recognized by the eye, because it doesn't necessarily exist. While we can notice a shot block or a hit, or a gritty puck battle won by the defender, we need to understand that sometimes those plays don't give way to not allowing shots. Paul Coffey was a terrific defensive defenseman, because the puck was always in the other end. Vince Lombardi once applied to football the quote "the best defense is a good offense" and that perfectly applies to hockey.
Pension Plan Puppets
November 01 2011 09:51AM
Andrey Osadchenko is the Nations' friendly roving Russian reporter who joins us for a look at some Leafs' picks that haven't panned out.
You wouldn't think of the Leafs as of an organization who falls for sexy Russian picks. On the contrary, if they draft a Russian, they tend to do so in a late round. Lower expectations lead to lesser disappointment. Although, if this shot in the dark miraculously turns into something valuable, anybody would take it on any given day.
Need an example? Daniil Markov - drafted in 1995, 9th round, 223rd overall, 538 games in the NHL. Sergei Berezin - drafted in 1994, 10th round, 256th overall, 502 games in the NHL. Nikolai Borschevsky - drafted in 1992, 4th round, 77th overall, 162 games in the NHL.
However, there were more losses than gains for the Leafs with ruskies. Here are the most recent ones.
October 31 2011 02:26AM
All Hallows Eve is here in all its glory, with children headed to the door this evening in search of treats their parents would never let them near any other night, and those same parents openly regretting the sugar rush they're about to bestow on said urchins. Of course, for those of you in between those ages, Hallowe'en is about other pursuits, and those are perfectly fine as well. As an aside, when did this copious skin baring business start in earnest? When I was in university in the early 80's, you'd only see someone in their knickers if you were dating them, and even then it was iffy ;-) I'm not complaining, mind, just attempting to fill the gaps in my knowledge base.
Anyhoo, let's get to it. In this aggregation of notes, the Leafs hit a roadblock in the nation's capital, the Oil are cruising for now, and Vancouver snaps out of their funk with a bang.
October 30 2011 08:20PM
Jonas Gustavsson played very, very well through almost the entire game, but wound up allowing an absolutely Toskalian goal at 7:08 of the third period to sink the Leafs. That said, even though such a weak goal wound up being the difference, the Leafs had far from their best outing tonight, and blame cannot rest solely on Gustavsson's shoulders.
The game started off well, with a power play marker from Clarke MacArthur coming at 11:20 of the opening frame, but the Leafs' effort rather troughed between that point and the MacArthur's next goal at 9:07 of the third. Certainly, fatigue could have been an issue, but even though the Leafs have played 3 games in 4 nights, it's never easy to settle for a loss to the Senators.