October 08 2013 02:17PM
The last time the Toronto Maple Leafs hosted the most recent No. 1 pick was February 6, 2012. The Maple Leafs won that game 6-3, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins went minus-3. The Leafs had won three straight at that point and were 28-19-6, comfortably within striking distance of the playoffs. The only win they'd have in the next 11 games would come, curiously, on the road against the same Edmonton Oilers.
The 2014 Colorado Avalanche have begun their season with two excellent and oddly-watchable games at home against the Anaheim Ducks and the Nashville Predators. They changed around their executive in the offseason more than any other team. Short of firing the general manager Greg Sherman, they surrounded him with Joe Sakic brought in as the new Executive VP, promoted Craig Billington to assistant general manager, and hired Patrick Roy as head coach and also as VP of hockey operations. Sherman is all but a speck of dust in the distance, with the Avalanche organization having placed an anvil above his head to be dropped if the team ever loses three straight games.
More importantly, the team is bringing along Nathan MacKinnon, who is pretty good.
Jeff Veillette (Jeffler)
October 08 2013 11:37AM
The Toronto Marlies started out rather well this weekend, with a pair of wins (4-3 on Saturday, 5-1 on Sunday). Lots of reasons can be given for their success, be it Drew MacIntyre's stellar performances between the pipes, Trevor Smith's early leadership, or the strong penalty kill. But most glowing were a pair of offensive defencemen, who were united on the first powerplay unit (which, despite going 'just' 3 for 16, was littered with shots and scoring chances). John Michael Liles was expected to dominate. T.J. Brennan showed preseason promise. Together, they were the catalysts of a surprisingly potent offense to begin the year.
October 07 2013 10:19PM
It seems that for 29 teams in the league, it's fruitless to speculate on potential moves brought up in the press. Most trades happen serendipitously and without warning, breaking late at night or during lunch and inconvenience reporters that get no advance alert. They have to drop everything and report on something they didn't know to be true ten minutes before.
For the Maple Leafs it's a little more straightforward. The Leafs play smack-dab in the middle of downtown Toronto, the proverbial Death Star of hockey reporting. The Leafs are owned by two media companies that own collectively two sports networks, a newspaper and a magazine. The Leafs are the centrepiece of the CBC's deal with the National Hockey League, with the Maple Leafs getting the prime 7 p.m. slot most nights.
It's generally advisable to ignore any and all rumours dealing with 29 teams in the league. Not with the Maple Leafs. Information gets out quickly and spreads. When something pops up written by a columnist or a television personality, such as the Leafs looking to trade for John Bernier, or to trade Joe Colborne, you'd be wise to listen. Rumours are almost always substantiated in this town. While Dave Bolland was a surprise, David Clarkson was not, and the public got a very detailed look at the negotiation process with Nazem Kadri.
So it's with that qualifier that I feel comfortable highlighting these passages from Elliotte Friedman's 30 Thoughts column, centring around young Jake Gardiner:
Jeff Veillette (Jeffler)
October 07 2013 08:32PM
The season is underway for the Toronto Marlies, who look like a much different team from the last two seasons. There's a new coach. There's a new captain. There's an almost entirely new roster. Even Ricoh Coliseum has fancy new lights, boards, glass, goal lamps, and photos everywhere. For all intents and purposes, the only thing that connects the back to back North Division champions to this years roster is probably the team logo. This weekend was an interesting one to get a feel for the new dynamic.
Needless to say, Smith wanted to make a big first impression this weekend. With five points in two games, it's safe to say he's making the impact that he wants to.
October 07 2013 01:18PM
There are a few reasons we can say the Toronto Maple Leafs started 3-0. It's not all because they're a group of 20 players collectively sticking the middle finger to math. While the Leafs are getting out-played at 5-on-5, they've been making up for it in other areas and unlike last season, a fast start can't be credited only to the team's shooting and save percentages.
Since there's little else to talk about in the way of games, new line combinations or trades, I figured today may be a good time to go through a few of them.