It’s time to say goodbye to “Bye Week”. The Leafs are back on the ice tonight against the New York Rangers, and in the meantime, a bunch of stuff has happened with the players, with the opposing teams, and even on this site. If you took some downtime yourself, let’s catch you up.
- Auston Matthews was named to the Atlantic Division All-Star Team. He was very confident in his selection, in his team, and his own play this year, and it was really great to hear.
- Curtis McElhinney was claimed off waivers from the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Leafs then traded Jhonas Enroth to the Anaheim Ducks for a 7th round pick. Both moves play into the song that never ends.
- You can’t take Matt Martin and Mitch Marner anywhere. Like, seriously. Except for a couch to sleep on.
- Josh Leivo and Auston Matthews were on a boat.
- Auston is also still wearing his Harambe sweater, for some reason.
- The Marlies played a bit of hockey. They lost on Sunday, and lost again on Wednesday.
- Ryan Fancey wrote about how impactful of a player Zach Hyman really is. Spoilers: probably more so than you’d initially think.
- Before the McElhinney/Enroth stuff, I detailed the insanity in goal for the Marlies this year. It looks like it might be Sparks/Bibeau for a while now, though, so that’s a good thing.
- Tired of stuffing square pegs into round holes, I began a crusade against the idea of defence as we know it.
- Ryan Hobart explained how Nikita Zaitsev has met expectations, and then some, as an NHL rookie.
- Dom Lusczczyszyn went back a few weeks and used his Game Score model to see how the Leafs did in December.
- With talk of trading JVR or Nylander for a steady defenceman, I explained why it made more sense to ignore the market instead of buying into it.
Of course, the entire league wasn’t off for that stretch; the rest of the Atlantic Division got some play time in, to try to either catch up to or widen their lead on the Leafs in the standings.
- The Montreal Canadiens didn’t have a great time after their win over the Leafs on Thursday. They lost 4-1 to Washington, beat the struggling Winnipeg Jets 7-4, and then got beat up on by the Wild on Thursday night, as Carey Price let in seven goals in what was supposed to be a Vezina battle against Devan Dubnyk. They’re 14 points ahead of the Leafs, who have four games in hand.
- The Boston Bruins are now second in the division, but they didn’t make gigantic progress this week. They lost 4-3 to Carolina in overtime, beat the Blues 5-3, and lost 2-1 to Nashville; 0.500 hockey overall. They’re five points ahead of the Leafs, who have six games in hand.
- The Ottawa Senators, despite being one of hockey’s worst shot-metric teams, got some standings support this week. They beat Edmonton 5-3 on Sunday, and Pittsburgh in a surprising 4-1 upset yesterday. They’re four points ahead of the Leafs, who are a game in hand.
- The Florida Panthers also made up some ground this week, shutting out the Devils by a score of 3-0 on Monday and beating the Islanders 2-1 on Wednesday. They sit two points ahead of the Leafs, who have four games in hand.
- The Tampa Bay Lightning played a pair of games while the Leafs were out. They got pumped 6-2 by the Penguins on Sunday, and beat the Sabres 4-2 last night. They take on the first overall Blue Jackets (still feels weird, man) tonight. They sit tied with the Leafs, who have four games in hand.
- The Buffalo Sabres played a pair of games this week. They beat the Flyers 4-1 (good if the Wildcard begins to matter), and lost 4-2 to the Lightning. They’re three points back of the Leafs, who have two games in hand.
- The Detroit Red Wings played a pair of games and didn’t get much out of them. They lost 4-3 in overtime to Chicago on Tuesday, and lost 5-2 to Dallas on Wednesday. The best news about that? All points sacrificed go out-of-conference. They’re four points back of the Leafs, who have three games in hand.
Overall, the Leafs players seemed to have fun, we spent time reflecting (though I spent just as much losing my mind over risk-reward hockey theory), and now the Blue and White have some catching up to do. The good thing is, not too much damage was done; if they keep playing well, they should be just fine in the coming weeks.