Monday, November 30, 2009
"Clearly, it’s that initial tailspin the Leafs will be fighting all season. Since the catastrophic 0-7-1 start, the team is a respectable – if bizarre – 6-4-6. Anytime a hockey club loses just four of 16 games in regulation, it is doing something right. In this case, however, it has enabled the Leafs only to escape the NHL basement; the club sits 29th overall today, four points up on last-place Carolina. That’s how damaging the first 3½ weeks of the season have proven to be."
By no means am I predicting PLAYOFFS!!!! here, but the Leafs currently sit 9 points out of a spot with at least 1 game in hand on the four teams in front of them.
Like douchebag mentions in his article, they'll be fighting an uphill battle all season (after posting that abysmal record to start the season) but if they can string together a few more wins this week (4 games) that will at least bring them back into the mix of things. And by "mix of things" I mean "out of a lottery pick".
That said, they'll have their hands full with the Sabres tonight. The Sabres are 11-4-0 in their last 15 games against the Leafs.
The good news... Toskala is still hurt.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
If those roles were reversed this morning, there would be 30 comments and two posts from THM by now.
Ya, I'm calling you all out!
(Insert "300" shot, me with my sword and 10,000 gruesome looking Sens fans now running towards me!)
Here's a question to wet your appetite:
Is Corey Clouston proving that he has absolutely no clue how to coach star players? Lets do the math here. Heatley asks to be traded and Spezza along with Kovalev have done absolutely squat this season. Sure, Clouston has Carkner, a career AHLer playing better than he ever has, but is this because that's all Clouston should be, an AHL coach?
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
-Scalpers say they are lucky to get face value for non weekend game tickets.
-Reports out of MLSE say some of the Leafs corporate boxes are remaining empty for the first time since the ACC came into existence.
Enough said folks.
So with that brutal record hanging over their head and some of their most potent efforts resulting in OT losses this past week, is there any way the Leafs will get out from under this darkness? While no Leaf fan in their right mind thinks the playoffs are even a distinct possibility anymore, some believe there is still opportunity for the team to grow and win some games and climb into a position of respectability. Right now finishing the season in 11th place and handing Boston the 7th overall pick would be a victory. That's how bad things are.
*** *** *** *** ***
In Ottawa, three straight wins against good teams has certainly shut up those who said an easy schedule was the reason for the Sens decent start. I'm one of those people. So I'll eat some crow. Maybe the Sens are better than I think?
(take that in)
I'm sure one could try and argue that the Pens are playing crappy hockey right now and the Caps were exhausted from a compressed road trip. But a W is a W, and the Sens have some breathing room and a playoff spot. Toronto don't.
I just hope that any "I told you so's" out there from Sens fans are diluted by a loss tonight. So... Go Devils!
Leafs get TSN and the Sens are relegated to back-up TSN2 where if you tuned in today at 3pm you could have watched the Stihl Chainsaw competition (Duff?).
Hey, at least we still get prime billing Leaf fans... although that may not last long either.
Got me wondering how other ex Leafs and ex Sens are doing these days?
Here's a few of them...
NIK ANTROPOV: 19 assists and a goal in Atlanta. That makes him tied for 4th in the NHL in assists. His hefty raise to $4M looks maybe like it's been worth it for Atlanta. Was Burke too quick to trade this guy?
MIKE COMRIE: 8 points and a -3 in 16 games for the Oilers. Word is Pat Quinn already hates him with a passion because he's selfish and unmotivated. Ok... I made that last part up.
ALEX STEEN: Once the "future" in Toronto, this 24th overall draft pick has 2 points in 7 games and has made Cliff Fletcher look pretty sharp, for an old guy.
ANTOINE VERMETTE: Sent to Columbus in a deal that brought back Porcelain Pascal, it seems Vermette just needed a change of scenery. He's just under a point per game since the move. Thankfully, his trade means we won't have to see him shirtless on this blog anymore. Because seriously, that just makes us feel bad about ourselves.
CARLO COLAIACOVO: Speaking of porcelain, the cursed one seemed to find his game and his luck in St Louis. He's scoring at a rate of about .5 points a game, playing close to 20 minutes a night and so far his only setback has been the flu. Oops, did I just jinx him?
DANY HEATLEY: Since we get a stats comparison between him and four Sens every third day, I don't need to tell you he's 1st in goals with 18 and 4th on points in the NHL. Everyone is happy in Ottawa though because there are four Senators that have more points combined as he does right?
DOMINIC MOORE: Since requesting a reported $1.5M more than the Leafs would offer and then being traded, Moore must be kicking himself in the ass. He's a non-factor in Florida and making one million dollars instead of close to two. Our only hope is that Florida really really want to reunite him with Jason Blake.
BRIAN MCGRATTON: He's actually a +2 in Calgary which is great for a grinder/fighter. He has a few points as well and is making $500K. Playing for a cup contender must also be pretty nice. And for all that, all he has to do is get his lips punched off by Colton Orr once in a while. That has to beat playing for Ottawa.
There are more. Feel free to add more if you like and they don't have to be recent even. Pot shots at other BoO team however are mandatory.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
The Ottawa Senators will be forced to do without Pascal Leclaire for up to four weeks as the Sens' number one netminder will undergo surgery to repair a fractured cheekbone.
The injury occured during Monday's victory over the Capitals when an errant puck bounced off the glass behind the Senators bench and hit him in the head.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Some resident of leaf hamlet suggested here about two weeks ago that the Senators had been playing "bottom feeders" for far too long thus inflating their win column. The implication was that, facing the upper echelon teams, they would not fare so well; that they would falter.
Well here ya go, doubters.
Unfortunately, Leclaire with a possible broken jaw (sportsnet wrapup). What luck: sitting on the bench and getting a puck in the face. This guy needs to invest in horseshoes.
Meanwhile, the Leafs blow it again. That old saying "just get the puck on the net" was taken to heart. The problem is, you should maybe try to score.
Here's where I got the story.
The players the Hawks are rumoured to be shopping are: Sopel, Sharp, Versteeg and Barker as they all have salaries ranging from $2.5m to $4m, and the Hawks need to clear space to sign their young guns.
HNIC said it was Sopel the Leafs are interested in. That makes very little sense, unless it's part of a larger package. Story says the Leafs will take on the salary but are wanting draft picks included.
We'll see how this shakes out.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
...Like a hobo finding an unopened can of tuna in a dumpster.
...Like thinking Cancun is "awesome" because you've never had a vacation before.
...Or, on a hot day when even a Carling tastes good, because that's all they have.
There was something about those helmets on backwards, the 5'10" Toskala standing taller and Phil Kessel sniping one in front of the home crowd that helps numb the agony of these last two months. Heck, one might really get ambitious and see last night as the big turning point - the night the Leafs learned to relax and have fun and then slayed a dragon.
Of course, I have a mouth full of stitches and some of the best pain killers my company health insurance can buy. So it's possible that I'm completely off my face right now.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Yoda put his bet in at 5-1 Pens. Game ends 6-2 Sens. You almost had it Yoda, but for the typo and the fat finger!
So the Sens beat the Stanley Cup champs (with Crosby, Malkin & Fleury). Can you Leafers spin that somehow to show the Sens were lucky? They outplayed Pittsburg throughout. Leclaire with his mandatory weak goal, but stands tall the rest of the game.
Phillips with 2 goals, Fisher with 3 pts, Carkner with a goal and a +3, and the proof-of-payment for the Michalek/Heatley trade scores as I type this. Secondary scoring issues? No more!
Oh, and Neil doesn't take on skilled fighter? He had something to say about that by drawing Eric Goddard, 3" bigger and 15 lbs heavier. Coward my ass.
Next up: Toronto @ Carolina
Meltdown! Meltdown! Meltdown! Meltdowwwwwwn!
LOLZ to last the night. I need to keep the fridge full of beer.
At least they got a point!
Gonchar is back for the Pens as they visit Ottawa. Kovalev is going to be fired up for this one as he's heading home to Russia for his mother-in-law's funeral.
#29 TO visits #30 Carolina to switch positions in the rankings as Burke threatens to fire players rather than fire the coach (which is where he should start).
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
All the junk being tossed around about how Neil should fight Rosehill but not Schenn despite the bad on-ice decision that would be had me inspired to develop a "Fight Decider" matrix.
Pretty simple: I looked at the guys on each team who had at least 2 major penalties (fights). I took the averagetime on ice (TOI) per point (P) which gives the average amount of time between points. I then divided fight penalty minutes (FPM: No. of Majors x 5 min) by this value to give a trade-off value.
So, how would one use this to decide if it's intelligent to fight an opponent?
Well, a neutral match-up (with respect to the overall effect on the team) will have a similar 5 minute trade-off value (TrOV). A good match-up would see one's opponent with a substantially higher TrOV. A bad matchup would see one's opponent with substantially lower TrOV.
So.... how do the Senators/Leafs players stack up?
Neil 0.127So it's pretty clear that Neil fighting Rosehill or Schenn would be a bad tradeoff for the Senators. Neil shouldn't have fought Schenn based on this, though Schenn taking a run at him is a good enough reason. Even Carkner/Orr doesn't make sense for the Senators, but is a good choice for the Leafs.
I checked out some 'skill' guys too. Fisher comes in at 0.153 & Hagman comes in at 0.125. An even tradeoff would be Neil v. Hagman.
Remember kids, criticize the method and results, but keep it in perspective.Of course, this doesn't count in fighting for team motivational purposes. I'm going to try to work something together that establishes a GF/GA differential while the fighter is in the box, but that's a little manual intensive. Also, a team-value factor may be added to account for how valuable a guy is relative to the others on his team (e.g., a goon on Toronto with 4 points is probably similar in scoring value to their second liners!).
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
I'm not saying I didn't sip on some of the "PLAYOFFS!!!*!!" kool-aid that Burke was serving this summer but we all knew this season was going to be a struggle.
Here's hoping we can turn this ship around... starting tonight.
Toskala to start.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
What an amazing night Friday was.
The Hawks fans at United center treated me and my friend like guests in their home. They were constantly coming up to us and asking where we're from and wanted to talk hockey, which was really unexpected. They were warm and friendly and I think enjoyed having a whole bunch of Leaf fans in attendance. And there were a lot of us.
Blackhawk fans are REALLY into their team. Being there live during the Star Spangled Banner was a real treat. Leaf fans at the ACC could learn a thing or two about setting the tone in the building. It was awesome down there and I have no doubt it's the #1 reason the Hawks are coming out of the gate so strongly in their games.
Hawks fans, the people who run the United center concessions right down to the cabbie who drove us there - Thank You for an awesome night.
Overall, an amazing experience.
What was also really cool was the guys to our right were diehard Bruins fans in town for business. Awesome guys, totally know their hockey... but OUTRAGED that Chiarelli let Kessel go and continuously told us how lucky we were to have him. They didn't kick me and my friend's asses for having Kessel jersey's though. I appreciated that.
One last thing: It wouldn't be the Battle of Ontario unless I posted something about Ottawa. Two things happened Friday night. One was a Chicago fan came up to my buddy while I was in the washroom and just screamed "Sens Suck" and high-fived him. Secondly, of all the Leaf jersey's we saw the best was the guy who had actually paid good money to have the words SENS SUCK sewn on his shirt.
I am actually still really curious - was that you Jared?
I recommend you go down and see a game there.
I am going to see the Leafs in Philly in March it looks like. Chicago has set the bar huge. Awesome people, awesome city, can't say enough good things about it.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Welcome to the game day thread!
EDMONTON @ OTTAWA
Pat Quinn brings his new Edmonton team into Kanata to face the Sens. Edmonton have played a few more games than Ottawa but only have one more point to show for it, so Ottawa must like their chances in this one. We can bring up the whole eastern conference vs the west argument again, in minutia, but a quick glance is all you really need to see that the West is certainly as a whole, the best. So far anyway. So Ottawa would be wise to not underestimate the Oilers who have scratched out their points theoretically against stronger teams than Ottawa have.
I still like Ottawa in this one. At home, coming off a late collapse against New Jersey, the Sens should certainly be motivated and wanting to get back on the rails. There are no must win games in November, but Ottawa's confidence could go either way right now, one would think, and it doesn't get much easier than Edmonton for the rest of the month.
MINNESOTA @ TORONTO
The Wild ride into town wondering what the hell has happened to them since Jacques Lemaire departed to ruin the fan experience in New Jersey. The Wild are last in the west and with ex-Sen Martin Havlat leading the offence, they aren't scoring a bunch of goals despite the implementation of a more offence-friendly system. They are allowing more however, despite Backstrom still being a top 5 goalie in the NHL.
Same West vs East theory applies for the Leafs as once again Minnesota are probably not as bad as they seem having had to face teams like San Jose and Vancouver instead of Tampa and Florida. The Wild have also won a few games lately, beating the Rangers and Penguins in the last week - a feat neither Toronto or Ottawa for that matter have been able to duplicate.
I'll call it a double victory for Ontario with the Leafs winning a tight one, 2-1.
I do believe Komisarek was scheduled to play but haven't checked since this morning. Anybody know?
Enjoy the games.
"I think they have found their goalie," Lidstrom said, adding that Gustavsson reminds him of another Swedish goalie. "He looks like (Rangers' Henrik) Lundqvist in there," Lidstrom said. "He's bigger than Henrik, but both have the ability to make themselves big in the net and not give you too much to shoot at."
I just noticed Lidstrom is a UFA after this season.
Think he might get a few calls July 1st?
Monday, November 09, 2009
It hit me last night... When's the last time Colton Orr pounded the shit out of somebody?
I'm drunk and out of the country. Can somebody look it up and see if I'm right? I do believe that during the Leafs run of points there has been very little "truculence".
Ya, sure, Gustavsson, Kessel, blah blah blah.
Anybody willing to look into this?
Friday, November 06, 2009
It might just be the most pathetic "battle" of the year. The winner of tonight's game between Carolina and Toronto WON'T be in 30th place.
All the same, you can't get to 8th place in the east from 15th without first passing 14th. So the Leafs need to get it done.
Carolina are injured and have zero confidence and can't seem to put a puck in the net. Exactly the kind of dog in the corner you don't want to play (See Anaheim facing the Leafs).
The good news is Toronto is healthy, have Phil Kessel on the first line, and since having our #1 and #2 goalies back have earned at least a point out of every game.
It's something, anyway.
Wilson hasn't said who will start tonight but my guess is that desperation will override the quality of opponent here and we'll see Gustavsson in net as the Leafs look for only their 2nd win of the season. Worry about Detroit tomorrow.
UPDATE 2:57pm: Now a fact: Gustavsson gets the start.
Leafs 5 Carolina 1. Kessel with a pair of goals, giving him one more than Spezza. :)
Thursday, November 05, 2009
Tampa Bay - coming off a charity point game against a full & healthy Leaf squad with all of its top stars (that's you Kessel, Blake, Komisarek & Monster Jo') - arrives in Ottawa to meet the host squad missing its stud C & D gamers.
Meanwhile, Toronto heads to Carolina to face Ottawa native Rod Brind'Amour and an Eric Staal-less Hurricanes being backstopped either by backup Leighton or the abysmally performing Cam Ward (sub 0.900 SV%!). Both teams have flat out lost 12 games, but Carolina has won twice the number Toronto has @ 2. Does it seem right to anyone that they have the same number of points? Carolina will have something to say about that tonight.
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
As one often does when choking on their own foot, lets change the subject as quickly as possible!
I recall one of you last week snorted something about Gustavsson maybe someday being over .900?
Well, I've been keeping a close eye and what do we have here:
JONUS GUSTAVSSON .901%
PASCAL LECLAIRE .898%
Lets also keep in mind that Toronto spent months of hard work signing this guy but traded no assets while the Sens traded away Antoine Vermette who, as I write this, has 12 points, would be the 2nd highest scorer on the Sens and has 7 points more than Alexei Kovalev, the $5M forward.
It does make one wonder, is Murray the worst GM in the NHL right now?
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
We couldn't let this die in the comments section.
"A very interesting fact was revealed this morning while I drove out there, one that I wish we had known for the last 3 months as it pretty much kills the concept that Phil Kessel's 08/09 season success is owed exclusively to one Marc Savard. Raise your hand Sens fans if you've written or spoken this at least once since the trade in September."
THM raises his hand and waves it around like a giddy schoolkid "I did! I did! IIIIIIIII DIIIID!!!!"
MARC SAVARD ASSISTED ON 6 OF PHIL KESSEL'S 36 GOALS LAST SEASON.
Oh.... but wait!!!Marc Savard indeed assisted on 22 of 36 of Kessel's goals. That's 61.1%. Maybe the source that left Muppet so excited to return from Oakville for his post -- already tanked in preparation for the AM640 game day revealing of the bronze Kessel Statue @ Yong and Dundas -- entered that into his Excel sheet as a fraction, hit % on the format bar and quickly hit the alphanumeric conversion.
So to keep our accounting straight
MARC SAVARD ASSISTED ON 22 OF PHIL KESSEL'S 36 GOALS LAST SEASON.
Your Muppet facepalm.
Suck it Matt Stajan
I had an 8am presentation in Oakville and it has nearly killed me waiting to get back to the office to create this post.
A very interesting fact was revealed this morning while I drove out there, one that I wish we had known for the last 3 months as it pretty much kills the concept that Phil Kessel's 08/09 season success is owed exclusively to one Marc Savard. Raise your hand Sens fans if you've written or spoken this at least once since the trade in September.
So, without further adieu, here it is.
MARC SAVARD ASSISTED ON 6 OF PHIL KESSEL'S 36 GOALS LAST SEASON.
(Courtesy of the Toronto Star)
To take nothing away from Marc Savard, who is a great disher of the puck, it would seem from that statistic that the anti-Kessel/anti-Leaf argument in this case has absolutely no legs. Kessel was leading scorer on a team and the leading assist guy had almost nothing to do with it.
While I don't expect Kessel to do all that much for the first few weeks as he becomes familiar with new teammates and a new system it is not out of the question for him to have a memorable first night. Many players who are on long layoffs often do, the adrenaline more than compensating for the rusty hinges. I think we can expect something and the safe bet is a goal while playing on the league's best PP. A feed from Kaberle who, as I write this, has more assists than Marc Savard.
One last thing: I bought a brand new RBK Leafs dark jersey last night. I'm in Chicago next Friday to see the Leafs battle the Hawks. Great seats. Can't wait. I hope the Leafs score a few and I can be on TV. If I do, I'll be sure to turn around so you can all see the name and number I've chosen for the back.
Phill Kessel. #81.
Call me optimistic.
UPDATE: Kessel's tests were positive, officially announced he is 100% playing tonight.
Monday, November 02, 2009
Well, for one week anyway! Kaberle's incredible 13 points last week fetched him the NHL's first star.
His 17 points now leads all defenseman in the NHL in scoring.
His 15 assists are tops in the NHL.
He is 12th in overall NHL scoring, ahead of Sidney Crosby.
His 12 powerplay points also lead the NHL.
Congratulations Thomas. Lets hope that feeding Kessel some passes up the wing can give the Leafs as a team the same kind of big week.