Less Than Jake

Jeff Veillette (Jeffler)
February 22 2013 02:59PM

It's very rare for those in the hockey know around Toronto to agree on something. But, at this second, there is one subject that is an exception to this rule, and it's Jake Gardiner. With nobody sure if the Leafs will continue their success and approximately fourteen thousand defenceman up on the current roster, everybody still has a critical need to see their promising young crown jewel back in the lineup. The question is simple; when does he come back up from the Toronto Marlies?

The answer? That I can't give you - I'm not Dave Nonis or anybody else involved with the decision. But I will say this. If it were me, it's not for a little while yet. This isn't to say that Gardiner has "fallen off", or to scare you in any way, but at this second, he's not ready.

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LFR6 - Game 18 - Ruff Go for Buffalo

Steve Dangle
February 22 2013 12:56PM

The Leafs take advantage of the new-look Buffalo Sabres. Speaking of which, who the hell are the Buffalo Sabres?

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JvR is a good hockey player: Leafs defeat Sabres 3-1

Cam Charron
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.

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Preview: Game #18 Sabres @ Leafs - The importance of toughness

Cam Charron
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.

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The Toronto Maple Leafs' looming PDO demon (what is PDO?)

Cam Charron
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.

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