That tweet was written on October 29th, after the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated Edmonton 4-0 in Edmonton. The next night, Toronto was in Calgary on the second half of a back-to-back, and rather than the Calgary Flames give the writer of that particular tweet a large helping of crow, Toronto defeated Calgary 4-2 despite being out-shot 43-22 and out-attempted 76-49.
Since then however, Toronto has gone 26-28-8 with, incredible, just 15 of those 26 wins coming in regulation.
Just perhaps, the Maple Leafs need to fairly beat the Calgary Flames before the curse can be lifted and the team can get back to its winning ways. There isn’t a lot of time left, with six games left, the Leafs not only needing to surpass two of Detroit, Columbus and Washington, but also fend off late attacks from New Jersey and Ottawa, who are both within a game in hand of passing the Leafs in the standings.
Hold on to your butts.
Adam Wylde has missed the last two Steve Dangle Podcast episodes thanks to a late bout of the flu (I can forgive Adam for not getting his flu shot, but only because the Flames are in town, and, well…) but he provided an excellent written statement on Sunday’s episode.
Dear Steve, Chris and everyone who listens to this podcast…
I apologize for my absence these last couple shows; I’m day-to-day with the flu and haven’t left my house since Thursday night (just before the last podcast was recorded). It’s been an ugly weekend—achy muscles, no voice, runny nose, constant cough—but it did allow me plenty of time to watch my favourite team play my favourite game in the world: hockey. Maple Leafs hockey. Two games, one weekend. Playoffs at stake. Awesome.
Ohhhh hockey… with its skates, and its pucks, and its hits and its EIGHT-GAME LOSING STREAKS! Maybe I’m still high on flu meds here but did the Leafs not play as though there were high on flu meds? Did it not seem as though they were coached by a man who was also high on flu meds? Did it not also seem as though, every time the camera panned to Nonis, that he was stunned… as though he was on flu meds? Maybe it wasn’t the flu meds though… maybe it was the Corsi. Maybe the Corsi finally jumped up and punched everyone in Leafs management right between the eyes (something I wish Riddick Bowe had actually done).
My arch nemesis Andrew Jerkshire tweeted last night “It’s almost like this Leafs collapse was entirely predictable from the get go” and you know what really sucks… That Jerkshire is Correctshire. His team, the Montreal Canadiens, will likely be the only team from Canada going to the playoffs this year. If you’re keeping track, it’s now 9 out of the last 10 seasons the Leafs have missed the playoffs. They are fucking spectacular at being a fucking disaster. And again, the advanced stats community saw this coming.
How, pray tell, are a bunch of bloggers who operate from “their Mom’s basements” (no disrespect Steve/Jeffler/Cam Charron/The Pension Plan Puppets or anyone else in the blogging world who have been so unbelievably correct all along it’s actually ridiculous), who “never actually watch the game”, who “don’t know hockey”, who “didn’t learn from the greats”, who never actually get to interview the players so they “don’t know the dressing room dynamic”…HOW did they see this coming, but nary a sportswriter* NOR THE ENTIRE MAPLE LEAFS BRAIN-TRUST did not?
(*there are notable exceptions: James Mirtle most prominent among them)
It’s funny what happens when all the intangibles, the sand papers, the gritty guys, the muckers, the role players, the tough guys, the hard to play againsts’, the pressure performers, the MIMICO’S and the #GoodSticks’ melt away… what you get is a team that for the second season in 3, played itself out of a playoff spot with such wild magnificence that it would have been an impossible to write for a script and for it to be believable.
I’m no expert. I never proclaim to be. I’m a fan with opinions, who hosts a podcast with a Canucks fan and someone who knows a thing or two about about numbers. Numbers don’t lie. As much as this person said “I’d love to be wrong about this, but….” over and over and over again, he and his basement dwelling buddies nailed it—the Leafs got away with murder, but they were only ever going to get away with it for so long. When we started this podcast just before the conference finals last year, Corsi was a basic unknown to me. It’s taken me a season, but I am now a believer.
The tough reality in life is numbers don’t lie. Here’s a number: The chances of the Leafs making the playoffs as it currently stands is 6.5%*. Another couple numbers from David Alter: 80 and 17. The Leafs have had 80 points for 17** straight days. Doesn’t that just eat you alive?
As bleak a picture as it is, I’d like to leave it on a positive note. When things go wrong, the most intelligent of us learn from the experience. Why do we fall? So we can learn to get back up. My hope is that losing this season solves a lot of the problems for the seasons coming. My hope is that Nonis and company, who are not stupid men, take a harder look at the things which predicted just this and try move forward with solving those issues instead of burying their heads in the sand as they did this year. My hope is 52 weeks from today, we can be talking about how this Leafs team looks nothing like the team we saw the year previous and what a stand up job management has done to correct the issues. I want that. I want them to succeed. I want them to be the most successful ever. You probably do too… and they’re capable. So my hope is a challenge to Leafs from President Lieweke right on down to the players: see your errors, correct your errors, and we will support you. Embrace the future. You’ve put us through enough.
The $8-10 million the Leafs will lose by not going to the playoffs. That should be the wakeup call enough.
Thanks for listening to my rant. Be back Thursday with more stupid things to say that you’ll probably disagree with 😉
Love and Kisses – Adam Wylde
*Number updated with the current figure after Monday’s games. Per sportsclubstats.com, the Leafs sit at 4.6%.
Anyway, now that Adam has written this, it all but guarantees the Leafs will win six straight and sneak into the postseason. The rant may have been one-upped by Steve on TSN 1050 today.
James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Phil Kessel
Joffrey Lupul – Nazem Kadri – Nik Kulemin
Mason Raymond – Dave Bolland – David Clarkson
Troy Bodie – Jay McClement – Jerry D’Amigo
Carl Gunnarsson – Dion Phaneuf
Jake Gardiner – Cody Franson
Morgan Rielly – Tim Gleason
The comments section of Jeffler’s recap of the first Leafs-Flames game is hilarious, in retrospect. I think during the Leafs hot start there was frequent comparisons between statheads and the Illuminati.
STAN, who has been a loyal reader and commenter, also commented first with a much-trashed complaint about David Clarkson’s production. Given that Kulemin has cemented that spot next to Kadri on the second line, I feel pretty good during the summer about mentioning Clarkson was basically an older Nik Kulemin.
Defence is the same. Why? Who do we have to fire to get Rielly or Gardiner on the top pairing with Phaneuf? Gunnarsson’s been playing visibly hurt for the last year. Rielly and Gardiner play Mariokart on 150cc, Franson and Gleason play on 50cc.
Michael Cammalleri – Mikael Backlund – Paul Byron
Curtis Glencross – Sean Monahan – Joe Colborne
Jiri Hudler – Matt Stajan – Brian McGrattan
Bryce Van Brabant – Lance Bouma – Kevin Westgarth
Bryce Va-what now?
Mark Giordano – T.J. Brodie
Kris Russell – Chris Butler
Chad Billins – Tyler Wotherspoon
Are the Flames just making guys up? Mark Giordano leads the league in Relative Corsi, which is good for him, but probably means bad things for the rest of the Flames. Fun fact: with Giordano on the ice, the Flames are a 53.7% Corsi Tied team. When he isn’t, they’re at 41.4%, which is… Leafy?
Somehow, the Flames go from playing like the Sabres to playing like the Blues just by having Giordano step onto the ice, and they will keep playing like this until their anonymous cast of little sluggers can start playing like real NHLers. I think they have some reason to hope in Calgary. The team has had a reasonably good second half, have two good young centres in Backlund and Monahan and a third good one, Stajan, locked up. Doesn’t translate to success for them this year, however.
At home, this is a winnable game for Toronto, but you can be sure Brian Burke has showed up just to strap Randy Carlyle to the steering wheel and toss a brick onto the gas pedal to ensure this 18-wheeler goes off that cliff tonight. This could be a fun game to watch.