Tonight, the Leafs will host one of the surprise teams in the League this season in the 31-16-5 Tampa Bay Lightning. Despite the loss of Stamkos after his 14-goals-in-17-games start, their reliance on the emergence of an inexperienced netminder and a supporting cast with quite a bit of rookie content, it’s all come up aces for Jon Cooper, who is a serious Jack Adams candidate through 52 games.
Ben Bishop’s numbers are jaw dropping, with a 26-6-4 record and a .934 save percentage. The decision to buy out Lecavalier and hand the captaincy to St. Louis, the Bishop for Conacher trade and the Valteri Filppula signing are looking pretty smart right about now. They’re in great shape and are anticipating a big addition within the next couple of weeks.
The Leafs meanwhile appear to have everyone in wait and see mode at the moment. The way the team manages to win some nights and the pattern of results – four consecutive losses in regulation, followed by six straight wins, followed by two losses (one in OT) – seems to have many fans unsure as to which direction this season is headed. That may be the answer right there – this is going to be a dog fight right until the very end in a heavily congested Eastern Conference playoff picture between positions 4 all the way down to 13.
Onto the links…
ICYMI: Anthony’s Monday Leafs Notebook looks at the PK and tons of other stuff
Doing a disservice to yourself by not reading this, if you haven’t yet.
JvR and Kessel are banged up, but expect to play tonight
JvR and Kessel’s health after the Olympics could be a concern
Trevor Smith is just about ready to return
Carlyle apparently plans to add him to the lineup. Too unrealistic to hope for four complete lines?
Phaneuf leads offensive attack plan from Leafs’ rearguards
Three points in his last four.
Nikolai Kulemin is not a fan of Don Cherry
I’m sure we’re all shocked Cherry skipped past Clarkson and went right for Kulemin among wingers “paid too much” and have done “nothing.”
Veteran backup Marty Biron feels Reimer’s pain
Even worse in Biron’s case – it was that prick Ryan Miller who took his job.
Tonight’s opponent, the high flying Lightning, have quite a few rookies
Many played under Cooper in Syracuse the season prior and love playing for the guy.
The Many Faces of Phil Kessel
Bookmark it for when you’re feeling blue.
Dave Poulin talks Olympics, trade deadline, state of the team: http://mapleleafshotstove.com/2014/01/28/poulin-talks-olympics-trade-deadline-state-of-the-team/ … #TMLtalk
Not much criticism of the rangers (2nd) in the Metro with the same # of Games as Leafs and 1 point less.
Leafs, Habs, Wings, Rags, Canes are all in about the same boat
Leafs PK has been bad for a while, under multiple coaches, assistant coaches and GMs. From TSN:
"Success a year ago, in which they killed off an impressive 87.9 per cent in the lockout-shortened 48-game campaign, was a true rarity. In the seven seasons between the last two lockouts – from 05-06 to 11-12 – the Leafs never had a penalty kill finish higher than even 24th overall – sitting 24th, 27th, 29th, 30th, 30th, 28th, and 28th.
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James van Riemsdyk having a career season for the #leafs, with a little help from Marty St. Louis: http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/jvr-looks-to-hit-milestone-as-leafs-visit-tampa/ …
On the subject of the PK, anyone notice that McClement is nowhere near effective in that role (nore any other) this year? Guy works hard it seems, but he doesn't seem to be picking off those passes and winning battles for pucks like we saw last season.
Carlyle presser from today
HA! Just had this sent to me on twitter. This is the same as Anthony's article yesterday!
@Jmessih Amazing that teams and owners to save a few weeks salary will trade or demote players before the olympic break.
@Shift_Disturber1 Yup wednesday with the rangers and islanders then march with the senaturds and the vancouver diving team for the heritage classic.
@Burtonboy and despite all that we have 60pts............go figure.............maybe we should just throw in the towel now............
@Burtonboy of course they dont.......its the Toronto media......wouldnt want to say anything positive about the Leafs/Marlies..............
@wiski Thats awesome. Great cause to have. Watched the segment about Richardson's daughters death on TSN yesterday. What a sad story.
Forgot the link if anyone was interested in finding out more
*I have no connection with Bell in anyway but I do think this is a great initiative.
@Burtonboy 28 gms
@MaxwellHowe Part of the problem but certainly not all of it is the amount of minor penalties they have taken this yr. Far more then last season
@Jon5200 Here Jonny, made you an avatar
@Jon5200 Get an avatar already. That way I don't confuse you with the trolls I ignore. ;-)
@Ian from Etobicoke Pretty clearly took his pointers from Petrielli. Siegel seems like a good egg, that's a little disappointing. Why can't they attribute a link?
@Ian from Etobicoke Noticed that too, and ive noticed other articles in the past being similar too lol
@Xxxxxnew Yeah I thought there was something mentioned about this before
@Burtonboy Thanks for the insight as always Mirtle!
@TheCanucksnaphook Any names?
@lieffan @Ian from Etobicoke Because they get paid to be original.
Sounds like they Smoked all their Hope