February 27 2011 11:56AM
As 2011 approached, there wasn’t much positive to say about the Toronto Maple Leafs. A 13-19-4 record had them sitting 13th in the conference with 30 points. They were just two points up on the woeful New York Islanders, one point behind the Edmonton Oilers, and 14 points out of the playoffs.
A week earlier, Calgary was in much the same position. Entering their December 23rd game against the Dallas Stars, the Flames had a 14-18-3 record, good for 14th in the Western Conference. Nine points out of the playoffs, they had played three games more than the last-place Oilers and somehow led them by a mere two points.
What has happened to these teams?
February 26 2011 11:36AM
A handful of unexpected things happened Thursday night at Bell Centre in Montreal. Enigmatic centre Tyler Bozak (not a typo) had his first three-point game of the entire season. Didn't see that coming. Phil Kessel followed up a game-winning goal (v. the Islanders) with a four-point game. Sure as hell didn't see that coming. And the Leafs, as a team, did something only elite clubs tend to do.
February 25 2011 09:08AM
Scoring Chances for NHL Game Number 20911
Toronto was outchanced at even strength 16-10 but fortunately their PP was hot, providing 7 scoring chances in 9:43 of man-advantage time with three converted into goals. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this was the first time the Leafs scored 3 PP goals in Montreal since December 7, 1966. The Leafs also held the Canadiens to 3 chances in 8:16 of PK time, though the Habs did manage to connect for two PP goals of their own. Officating was a mess in this game, BTW.
February 25 2011 02:31AM
Every year during the month leading up to the NHL trade deadline there are heated debates in chat rooms, on blogs, at coffee rooms, around water coolers and here on the Nation about what is a fair or good return in a trade. It is much easier to debate when actual players are moved, but when people start tossing around draft picks the air becomes much more grey.
What is the true value of a draft pick? Is a 2nd rounder fair return on a eight-year veteran 3rd pairing D-man? Many of us seem to think it is, but is it really?
February 24 2011 12:06PM
Thirteen days ago, I wrote about what the Leafs had to do to to even entertain ideas of qualifying for the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Many people, here and on twitter, had a field day with my “ridiculous” suggestion. But, the “Can they make the playoffs?” question is suddenly radio fodder in Toronto. Today, the Leafs are six points back of the Hurricanes (who currently occupy eighth). The Leafs have a game in-hand on Carolina, with Toronto having 22 games remaining in their regular season. I wonder how many people still think a Toronto post-season berth is unrealistic. It is not.