The Good: The Maple Leafs sport a 4-0-1 record, having garnered 9 of a possible 10 points during a 5-game homestand to start the season. Optimists, you may stop reading right now.
The Bad: In the second game of the season the Leafs nearly coughed up a 4-goal lead, and in three subsequent games have had a lousy first 30-40 minutes followed by an exceptional final 20. That just won’t cut it over the long haul.
The Ugly: The team’s defensive play — chiefly, that of its blueliners — has run the gamut from excellent to unfocused to “meh” to worryingly-disorganized to gone-completely-off-the-rails in the span of five games. Making matters worse, the past two weeks were the easy part of the October schedule.
Ultimately, it is the play of the defense corps which dictates the entire flow of the game. Everything from puck possession, to the transition game, to the subsequent genesis of scoring chances for and against, begins and ends with the defensive unit. If the defenders aren’t doing their jobs, the play of the forwards, and the goaltender, will invariably suffer. The Leafs got very lucky last night — as they have in their past three games — but can’t expect to survive many more performances like those.
But hey, at least the powerplay is clicking again!
Recommended A.M. reading after the jump.
Video: Joffrey Lupul Slams Puck Into Goal Cam, and it’s Awesome
Pretty self-explanatory. I could watch this all day long.
Jets Fall Short in Toronto
James Mirtle with last night’s recap.
Leafs’ Sniper Kessel Is All About ‘Getting Pucks On Net’
Kessel’s teammates let Mirtle in on the secret to “The Thrill’s” success.
After 60 Years, Former NHLer Bill Barilko’s Plane Recovered in Northern Ontario
Cue the Tragically Hip references. Very cool story, though.
The End of an Era
PPP brings us an update on the naming rights fiasco at Carlton & Church.
(Editor’s note: No matter what the building is re-christened as, it will always be “Maple Leaf Gardens” to us.)
Paul Hendrick Has a Pretty Good Sense of Humour
Apparently it rained even harder in Boston than it did in Toronto.
Around the NHL
The World According to J.R.
Jeremy Roenick is blogging on NHL.com
Five NHL Free Agents off to Stumbling Starts
Wysh takes a look at some early big-ticket disappointments.
Kuklas Korner has your Brayden Schenn fix.
Don Cherry Will Be Missed When He’s Gone
The inimitable Bruce Arthur offers perspective on the one and only Donald S. Cherry.