February 21 2013 08:58PM
Photo: Abelimages via NHLInteractive
Another strong defensive outing for the Toronto Maple Leafs, although they had to rely on their goaltender for a couple of big saves in the first period. After the first 20, however, the game slowed to the crawl that Randy Carlyle prefers to play.
You could tell by mid-game that Ron Rolston didn't have any secret formula to turning the Buffalo Sabres into anything more than a mediocre one-line team with a good goaltender. If the Sabres were generating offence, it was purely out of the offensive instincts of Thomas Vanek. If the Sabres were stuck in their own end, it was very likely that Tyler Ennis or Steve Ott were kicking around on the ice. If the puck was around the Sabres net, it was Ryan Miller, not any defenceman, ensuring it wouldn't get in.
Over the last four days, the Maple Leafs have been fortunate enough to play three teams in the league that are worse than them. I'd say they looked good and got through this stretch of the schedule with relative ease, and would have swept the games if it hadn't been for a couple of weak ones by Ben Scrivens. He was sharp against Buffalo, though, although he didn't have to be in a 3-1 win that was a lot less close than the score indicated.
February 21 2013 11:54AM
The last time the Toronto Maple Leafs faced off against a Buffalo Sabres' team that didn't employ Lindy Ruff, Toronto got goals from Wendel Clark, Kirk Muller and Larry Murphy in a 6-3 loss to the Dominik Hasek-era Buffalo team. At that point, the Maple Leafs were still in the Western Conference and only played the team twice a year.
The Sabres were a tough team back then—they had to be. Short of Hasek, they had few offensive stars and just a collection of scattered journeymen providing the offence for them. They had no 30-goal scorers, but several 20-goal scorers including international superstars Brian Holzinger, Jason Dawe and team-leading scorer Derek Plante.
They weren't a team that scored a lot of goals. They got world-class goaltending from Hasek in his prime and fought people. The Sabres were third in fighting majors in the 1996-1997 season, led by Rob Ray, Matthew Barnaby and Bob Boughner. All three players fought Leafs that night, or a couple of nights before during the first half of the home-and-home at Maple Leaf Gardens.
February 20 2013 01:26PM
"PDO", which doesn't stand for anything, can explain how hockey teams performed in a short amount of time.
It is the simple addition of a team's even strength shooting percentage and a team's even strength save percentage. Over the long run, it's been observed that the "PDO number" comes closer to 1.
It is also a very counter-intuitive concept, since it assumes that the value of every shot is equal, that teams have equally-good shooters and goaltenders. That said, teams that start the season with high PDOs tend to finish the season with lower PDOs. As of Monday morning, there were nine teams that had their goaltenders combine for .930 even strength save percentages or higher. After 82 games last season, only two teams managed that.
February 20 2013 12:28PM
The shutout streak is over! The sky is falling!
Seriously though, here's the latest LFR video.
February 20 2013 10:24AM
We've run a few of these recently and there seemed to be some interest, so Draft Street has set up another Nations Freeroll contest for this week.
Here's a run-down of the rules for those who are unfamiliar: