Monterrrriffic!

JP Nikota
October 29 2011 08:33PM

The old cartoon reference may be lost on some folks, but if you saw the game, you'd have to agree, anyway. Jonas Gustavsson played his best game so far this season, and helped hold down the fort in the third so the Leafs could come away with a 4-3 win. Sure, he was beaten three times, but he was most definitely not to blame on any of the tallies tonight. On the first goal, Dion Phaneuf missed his man, on the second, Mike Komisarek missed his, and the third was a rocket of a shot from Evgeni Malkin that any goaltender would have been hard pressed to stop, even if it wasn't a 5-on-3 penalty kill for the Leafs, with a heavy screen set up in front.

The Monster may not be a long-term answer in goal, but you've got to give credit where credit is due. Tonight's performance was full of highlight reel saves, and not because Gus was making acrobatic leaps to compensate for bad positioning. The Pens out-shot the Leafs 37-29, and goaltending was a key difference, as Brent Johnson started for the Pens.

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Maple Leafs - Penguins Preview

Pension Plan Puppets
October 29 2011 02:33PM

The Toronto Maple Leafs host the Pittsburgh Penguins in a game that Bob Cole will broadcast. That's the good news. Jonas Gustavsson is starting for the Maple Leafs and Brent Johnson will take a turn spelling Marc-Andre Fleury for the Penguins. That could be bad news.

Leafs lineup after the jump along with a demand for thanks.

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The Leafs and Rangers Shift by Shift

Danny Gray
October 29 2011 02:30AM

At the end of the third period last night I wondered aloud, Hey, is Brad Richards playing tonight? A few other people on Twitter had asked the same question. He was practically invisible all night. I think the fact that he saw 10 of his 19 at even strength against Phaneuf and Gunnarsson had a lot to do with it.

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An Attempt At A Defensive Puck Possession Metric

JP Nikota
October 28 2011 09:22AM

I've been scratching my head for a while now, trying to come up with a puck possession metric that focuses on defense rather than offense-driven numbers. I mean, if you're Anton Volchenkov, you might be responsible for preventing a lot of goals, but there's always the chance that last year's New Jersey forwards were incapable of putting shots on the opposition's net, and that your Corsi numbers look bad. What's a defensive defenseman to do? There's got to be a way of measuring defensive contributions that isn't tied to shots or goals.

So here's my rationale: only the puck carrier can be hit, so if there is a lot of hitting in your end of the ice, the puck must be there a lot, right? Even if your team has the puck, and is getting hit a lot in their zone, doesn't that mean that you're struggling to get out? Leafs fans should certainly remember last year's broken-record recording of "to the line, but not out", so anecdotally, anyway, this makes sense. 

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Reimer's Reactions

JP Nikota
October 27 2011 10:51PM

This is an article about James Reimer's post-goal body language.

Before I begin, I should point out that this post comes with a number of caveats. First, I should point out that I am making no guesses about what goes on in Reimer's head. I don't know if he's feeling confident or not, or what else he might think about after being scored on. The second point I should be clear on is that I recognize that we're really discussing minutiae here, so let's just keep this in context. Reimer has had a good start to the season.

The main reason I think a post like this is still worthwhile is that the venerable Justin Goldman (of The Goalie Guild) wrote so often last season of James Reimer's fantastic body language. Here's an exerpt from an interview with Goldman in an article by James Mirtle at the Globe and Mail: 

"But when Reimer has suffered a loss or given up a bad goal, he has not allowed that to kill or weaken his confidence. His ability to "bounce back" has been very impressive as well. He has only lost two games in a row once this season, and I think that ability to shake off a bad game (or a bad goal) has been a major reason why he continues to play so well. On top of this, he has a very positive attitude and a very strong work ethic. He's composed, even-keeled and he rarely displays negative body language. Those are all key traits you want a rookie can display; they are all signs of strong mental toughness. So if something goes wrong or he has a bad outing, he has the work ethic and confidence to overcome it"

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