February 05 2013 09:20AM
The good news is the Canucks have had a 2-0 lead in five of their first eight games, and a one goal lead in two others. The bad news is they've given away 8 points to conference opponents in those games.
That being said, the Canucks are off to the best start in years. And so is Luongo. As I said last time, try and remember that the calendar is meaningless. Forget that it's January and just pretend that it's October.
The Canucks' start feels way better now, doesn't it?
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting there is nothing to worry about in Canucksville. In fact, there are always plenty of concerns. The last time I completely gave on my pessimism, they were up 2-0 in the Stanley Cup Final. And we know how that turned out...
February 05 2013 07:10AM
Who says Brian Burke is full of hot air?
Leafs TV aired it's annual 'Behind the Draft' special this past Friday, and shone a little more light on the Morgan Rielly selection. Immediately after Burke took to the podium and called Rielly's name, and before Rielly reached the stage, the microphone picks up a quick conversation between Burke and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.
"Is that who you wanted?" Bettman asks.
"We had him first... rated first overall." Burke responds.
February 04 2013 09:02PM
Photo credit Abelimages via NHLInteractive
Now we're into uncharted territory.
Phil Kessel had a handful of six-game goal-less stretches in his Maple Leafs career. He's had seven and eight, even a nine-goal stretch, but this is the first time he's gone ten. I don't even know what to write in this space anymore. Early in the game, Alex Semin took away a surefire goal from the mouth. On a third period powerplay, Cam Ward slid across to rob him on an excellent Tyler Bozak set-up. There's no rhyme or reason to why this continues. Kessel has been getting two or three A-grade opportunities per game, yet nothing's working. No workmanlike goals, no shots, he's hitting posts, crossbars, pads…
Carolina won, but it didn't feel like they should have. It was a different variation of a common Maple Leafs-theme, where a Southeast division team blows out the Leafs in a midweek game at the Air Canada Centre. Except usually in those games they start poorly, and Toronto came out flying in this one, jumping on several Carolina turnovers but converted only once before the Canes settled in. After Matt Frattin scored to make it 1-0 Toronto, the Canes got four goals from four different goal scorers unanswered to win it by a 4-1 final. Analysis below.
February 04 2013 03:42PM
Hockey fans familiar with the work of Hockey Prospectus' Rob Vollman may recognize the "Player Usage Chart", which is an excellent way to visualize the way players in a system are being used, and how successful they are.
Below the jump, I have an early season look at the Toronto Maple Leafs' chart. Even though the season is but eight games old, a couple of things popped out at me. The horizontal axis of the chart represents the percentage of times a player started in the offensive zone relative to the defensive zone. The vertical axis of the chart represents the quality of competition a player has faced by Behind The Net's Corsi Rel QoC measure. Finally, a players' circle and its respective colour show how successful a player is at his role.
February 04 2013 10:11AM
Photo via Gregg Forwerck/NHLInteractive
The Toronto Maple Leafs suffered an off-ice defeat on the weekend, adding another body to the swelling pool of key injured players that has left the club shorthanded of a few of its good players. First it was Joffrey Lupul, then Clarke MacArthur, and now Carl Gunnarrson is on the shelf with a lower-body injury and has no return timetable.
While Lupul and MacArthur's injuries were tough, albeit the Leafs have been able to replace them with the production of both Matt Frattin and James van Riemsdyk early on in the season, Gunnarsson's injury presents a different challenge. Toronto isn't exactly a team with a terrifying top six, and Gunnarsson has arguably been the Leafs' best defenceman early on, with a +4.51 Corsi rate per 60 minutes and ranked third on defence in Quality of Competition.