Leafs must bank points over next 10 games

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Photo: Associated Press

The Leafs dropped their sixth game of the season against the Bruins on Saturday night, but the optimistic take is that maybe a lineup weak down the middle can still raise their game to compete with the better teams. A solid second period is something the coaching staff and players will no doubt look to as something to build on tomorrow against Minnesota.

The Wild are 10-4-4 and, as it stands, have the most points of any opponent Leafs will face until the end of November. Here’s the break down of the next 10 games:

Remaining November Opponents

OpponentCurrent Record
Total Record63 - 67 - 14
Wild10 - 4 - 4
Sabes3 - 15 - 1
Sabres3 - 15 - 1
Islanders6 - 9 - 3
Predators8 - 7 - 2
Capitals9 - 8 - 1
Columbus6 - 10 - 0
Penguins11 - 6 - 0
Sabres3 - 15 - 1
Canadiens9 - 8 - 1

That’s really weak. The total record doesn’t even account for the fact that the Leafs play the 3-15-1 Sabres three times before the end of the month (record was only included once). Contrast this with what the Leafs are facing once the calendar flips to December:

First 10 December Opponents

OpponentRecord
Total Record96 - 51 - 23
Sharks10 - 2 - 5
Stars8 - 7 - 2
Senators7 - 6 - 4
Bruins11 - 5 - 1
Kings11 - 6 - 0
Blues11 - 2 - 2
Hawks12 - 2 - 4
Penguins11 - 6 - 0
Panthers3 - 11 - 4
Coyotes12 - 4 - 2

Wow. That’s a nightmare. Not only in terms of strength of competition, but between December 3rd (vs. Sharks) and December 17th, the Leafs will play ten games over 15 days.

It’s not even fair, really. The Leafs had a six day break last week, and are currently on their third day off in between a Saturday and a Wednesday game. They’re going to pay for it in the final month of 2013. Taking seven of ten through the end of November may be what the Leafs need to do if they want to be in a playoff position come Christmas.

Some Tuesday morning links…

The Leafs’ feel the current available hockey analytics are of no use to them, but have heard many pitches from different analytics groups. Apparently the Leafs don’t use the money available to them for this type of research, but are open to if they feel someone comes along with something useful.

Jonas Siegel has some good, some bad, and some ugly from the Leafs/Bruins game on Saturday

From last week, Siegel interviewed Bernier about his move from LA to Toronto.

Paul Ranger adjusting to life in the NHL. He’s been better recently and it would be great if Ranger became part of the solution on the backend as the season progresses.

Tampa Bay got a really bad break last night. So did the NHL and Hockey Canada.

The Bruins 1-2-2 forecheck. A breakdown of the Leafs’ struggles to deal with the textbook Bruin forecheck.

– Don’t usually link to the Bleacher Report, but this is a good analysis of what the author labels a “fast break” system; it’s strengths and limitations. We’ve been talking about this stuff here for some time but this is a well written and thorough take.

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  • Burtonboy

    Morning folks . Yep we really do need to make the most of this month . I’ve got my fingers crossed we get Bozak back by the end of November. While JVR has filled in admirably so far its not hard to see just how important someone like Bozak is . Love or hate him I sure would like him back in the line up right now.

  • Burtonboy

    We also have 5 straight homes in this month. That’s a bonus as well

  • Burtonboy

    This Sportvu technology being used by the Raptors are using is really interesting stuff . Nonis alluded to it yesterday at that conference . I would bet the Leafs are and have been using this is some fashion for a while now.
    http://www.stats.com/sportvu/sportvu.asp

  • Burtonboy

    -Keon- Hopefully I can come back and remind you how wrong you were . :)

  • Burtonboy

    -Keon- Slippery ain’t ya lol

  • http://i.imgur.com/MyKj5C3.gif ingy56

    Burtonboy As long as they don’t continue the tradition of playing gracious hosts.

  • Burtonboy

    ingy56 Burtonboy Well here’s an opportunity to change that.

  • http://i.imgur.com/MyKj5C3.gif ingy56

    Burtonboy ingy56 I’m all in favour, been saying it for years though.

  • Burtonboy

    ingy56 Burtonboy I don’t live in the past Ingy . I never have

  • mcloki

    Morning Gents. A glorious if cold day here in Toronto. Hope you’re all comfy and warm.

  • Cameron19

    Murph2417 Have we actually heard anything about a potential Bozak return?

  • Burtonboy

    Cameron19 Murph2417 Unfortunately No. I don’t think he’s even riding a bike yet Cam

  • Burtonboy

    Murph2417 mcloki Had a few flurry’s here in Freddy this morning Murph

  • http://i.imgur.com/MyKj5C3.gif ingy56

    Burtonboy ingy56 I just wish the ACC was a terrifying place for opponents to come into…much like Chicago. Hard to do when the lower bowl is empty for 1/3 of the game. However, if the team comes out of the gate strong it’s all that really matters.

  • mcloki

    Murph2417 From the livefyre FAQ. I never knew. we’re always commenting so we’re always following.

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  • http://i.imgur.com/MyKj5C3.gif ingy56

    CanuckUKinToronto ingy56 Burtonboy Oh I get that…just saying having an amped up crowd can’t hurt the process either.

  • Burtonboy

    Murph2417 Burtonboy mcloki Not much Murph ….just a bit of wet snow that’s melting as it hits the ground

  • Jon5200

    Can the montreal canadiens get any luckier?  1st off they played nyi that was playing their 3rd game in 4…..2nd stamkos gets injured and who does tampa play next…..mtl !!  Not only that, add that this is tampa’s 3rd game in 4 nights as well…..i think one of the hardest games in hockey to win is the 3rd game in 4 nites….and in both cases not only was it the 3rd game in 4 but both nyi and tampa played the nite before while mtl rested……who makes up these schedules??

  • Burtonboy

    CanuckUKinToronto Burtonboy ingy56 What I try to do, don’t always work because you tend  to look ahead is just focus on the next game just like the players try to do.

  • Great Dane

    Burtonboy I can’t see Leafs going into December with both Bozak and Bolland out. I still don’t like Bozak in the line-up but simply can’t miss 2 2nd/3rd line centers after 30th November.

  • Burtonboy

    Murph2417 Burtonboy mcloki Yep its a hint of whats just around the corner . I use all seasons but they are truck tires so they do me just fine

  • Burtonboy

    GM meetings today. Let the trade rumors begin.

  • Great Dane

    Alec – the Bleacherreport link is very very good.
    The way Leafs play hockey I would compare it  to how the Italians play soccer – counter attack. Let the other team put up pressure and then when the chance is there counter attack very fast.
    That requires vastly technically superior and experienced players. That we have except at center and on the defense.
    On the defense it is a matter of time before the experience is there – technically there is no problem. But we need a “Bergeron/Datsyuk” to complete Bolland and Kadri. 

    One thing more is required which Kevin McCartney doesn’t address. Leafs will have to have an enormous playbook that every player fully understand otherwise the best teams will quickly identify how the Leafs counter attack. Such a system requires a lot of IQ to be successful.

  • vinoa

    hoolihan Rangers are on the upswing. Won their last 3 and Lundqvist is getting back to form.

  • Burtonboy

    Great Dane Your into fancystats ? What did you think of the Sportsvu link I posted below ?

  • Great Dane

    Burtonboy Can’t find it would you please repost it
    thanks

  • Burtonboy

    Great Dane Burtonboy
    http://www.stats.com/sportvu/sportvu.asp

  • Burtonboy

    Murph2417 Burtonboy mcloki If I was using a car for sure I would have snow tires. The wrangers I use on the truck have a deep thread pattern anyway

  • Burtonboy

    Murph2417 Burtonboy mcloki Freakin expensive though . I’m paying close to $1100 a set for those things

  • Dan39

    Great article on Ranger. Frustrating that he is still having ‘personal issues’ – he’s lucky that Leafs management is patient, I would be tempted to take a phone book to the back of his head. 
    Not surprising to see that Carlyle has asked him to play a more defensively sound game – let’s hope the improvement continues in this regard. 
    Also, I love the fact that he has bulked up to 230 lbs – wonderful to see that kind of commitment from a player.
    He’s never going to become popular with the fan base that admires fancy footwork above taking the body, but we do need more beef on the back end to clear out the likes of Chara from the front of the net IMO (and occasionally pin Reimer down so that Bernier wins the number one spot).

  • Great Dane

    Burtonboy Quite used in the soccer these days. To be honest NHL is a bit behind in this area.
    Now using stat doesn’t implied that one shouldn’t use comment sense and logic in finding an explanation for what is happening.
    Leafs being out shot is a good example. Leafs are out-shot by 10 per game – so Leafs are lucky and it will come back to average. 
    But the fact shows that it doesn’t latter for the Leafs to be out-shot they still win.
    So maybe the model is not correct – how about that????
    By simple deduction we can identify flaws in the model. Why because if the model was 100% correct you could not win if you are being out-shot. Leafs proves the opposite. 
    So quality to shot or quality of scoring chances matters – so a factor in the model that is not easy to quantify.
    Function is now :   Scoring =   ? * shots * quality of shot.
    So yes Leafs shouldn’t be out-shot by 10 per game but maybe 5 wouldn’t matter if the quality of the chance is that much higher.

  • Burtonboy

    Dan39 I must have missed the part about him still having personal issues

  • Burtonboy

    Great Dane Burtonboy I’ve said a dozen times since this debate started the Leafs are probably using some forms of measuring that is quite a bit more sophisticated then stuff like behindthenet. If they are dabbling into things like this then that proves my point . They made their video guy  an asst.coach which further points that they are heading in this direction.

  • Great Dane

    Burtonboy Fully agree – makes sense. 
    As long as the shot difference isn’t to big is really doesn’t matter.
    Stats should only be used to confirm that your model is right.

  • Dangle_My_Berries

    ranger will come around….he continues to get better

  • Jon5200

    CanuckUKinToronto Jon5200 probably….i just checked and guess what….the habs play columbus on Friday after tonites games vs Tbay….its colunbus’s 3rd game in 4 nites and yes, they play the nite before while the habs rest….that 3 games in a row where the habs rest and their opposition plays 3 in 4 and the nite before……WTF!!

  • Dan39

    CanuckUKinToronto Dangle_My_Berries Agreed.

  • Dan39

    Burtonboy Dan39
    “I think the biggest challenge for me is just working through my own personal stuff,” 
    “Everyone goes through their own personal journey to discover who they are, what they are and where their life is going to take them. For me, it’s re-establishing the mindset for hockey. That’s the hardest part so far.”
    Returning to NHL game condition has been relatively easy, he says. The mental side has been more of a journey.
    “I still feel like it’s a work in progress,”

  • Burtonboy

    https://twitter.com/SeanFitz_Geraldhttps://twitter.com/SeanFitz_Gerald/status/400283224007397376
    Tyler Bozak is out on the ice. (Note: I’m not covering curling this week. So when I say “ice,” I mean “hockey ice.”)

  • Burtonboy

    This is good news for a change

  • Dan39

    Burtonboy Carlyle said usually 10 days from when they start skating, they become available. Don’t know how relevant that generalization is to this case, but in the absence of anything else… That would mean he misses 5 more games and comes back for the Capitals.

  • Burtonboy

    Dan39 Burtonboy On track for a return on the 21 th which is when he’s supposed to return from LTIR

  • Dan39

    Burtonboy Dan39 Okay, then he gets in one game sooner potential against the Preds. Decent schedule until then.

  • Burtonboy

    Dan39 Burtonboy Yep . His absence has hurt the PK IMO

  • wiski

    Burtonboy hallelujah

  • Burtonboy

    Dan39 Burtonboy I think he was talking past tense about the personal issues . As for the work in progress stuff he’s likely talking his on ice play

  • Dan39

    Burtonboy Dan39 If he continues to improve, that’s all upside. We’re getting our $1m-worth as it is IMO.

  • Burtonboy

    Dan39 Burtonboy Yep ….. its a pretty amazing story really . Its a very difficult thing to do coming back after being so long out of the game

  • dlb eh

    Dangle_My_Berries 
    how much more does he have to come around?  i mean, how many bad plays is he actually making now?  are we counting each of his mis-cues as 5 and everyone else’s in the league as 1?
    did we watch Chara cough up the puck and struggle around the ice when we had him hemmed in on that one particular shift?  what the hell is Ranger supposed to be?
    we could badly use a Methot, but if Ranger can only be that good on a 3rd pair weve got that position solidified, so let’s move on to the real issues the team has.

  • Dangle_My_Berries

    Burtonboy some good news! Bozak does have value to this team despite what people say sometimes