Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Authors Posts by Garrett Bauman

Garrett Bauman

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    James Reimer and Joey Crabb
    (Photo Credit: AP/Jack Dempsey)

    James Reimer and Joey Crabb
    James Reimer has given his teammates plenty of reason to smile. (Photo Credit: AP/Jack Dempsey)

    It’s Friday! As if that weren’t reason enough to smile, the Leafs begin the day only 3 points back of a playoff berth.

    While the odds remain slim that they will make it into the postseason, the win-or-bust push has certainly ratcheted up the excitement level in Toronto. And isn’t that what it’s all about?

    With that in mind, here are ten things to feel great about this morning:

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    Tyler Brenner
    Photo: Rochester Institute of Technology

    Tyler Brenner
    Photo Credit: Rochester Institute of Technology

    Update: Dave Morrison on what the Leafs like about Brenner’s game – “Strong game, physical, goes to net. Able to score the garbage type goals.”

    The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed  6’2″, 190 pound forward Tyler Brenner, of the NCAA’s Rochester Institute of Technology (Tigers, Division I), to a two-year conract.

    From Andy Strickland: “Brenner considered five NHL offers including Anaheim and Boston … The Ontario native gets $810,000 in salary, $90,000 in a signing bonus, plus regular bonuses. He’ll make $67,500 in the AHL.”

    With RIT’s season coming to a close, the Leafs moved quickly to sign Brenner, who played a pivotal role in the Tigers’ finish at the top of the Atlantic  Hockey Association standings.

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    In 1892, English poet Sir Henry John Newbolt wrote Vitaï Lampada (They Pass On The Torch of Life), a lyric about a soldier learning the tenets of bravery and courage — of stoicism — through the practise of sport.

    There’s a breathless hush in the Close to-night
    Ten to make and the match to win
    A bumping pitch and a blinding light,
    An hour to play, and the last man in.
    And it’s not for the sake of a ribboned coat.
    Or the selfish hope of a season’s fame,
    But his captain’s hand on his shoulder smote
    “Play up! Play up! And play the game!”

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    Tyler Bozak
    The Leafs will look to bring a physical edge to Florida tonight. (Getty Images)

    Tyler Bozak
    Truculence. Pugnacity. A Panther craves not these things. (Photo credit: Getty Images)

    Fresh off a well-earned, win-or-bust victory in Carolina last night, the Maple Leafs face yet another must-win scenario this evening as they pay a visit to the lowly Florida Panthers.

    In what will be a bit of a blast from the past, Jean-Sebastien Giguere will get his first start in the Toronto goal since February 12th, while James Reimer, having started 13 games in a row and 25 of 35 since January 1st, receives a much-deserved night off.

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    Jake Gardiner
    Reports indicate the Leafs have signed prospect Jake Gardiner to a 3-year Entry Level Contract.

    Jake Gardiner
    Reports indicate the Leafs have signed prospect Jake Gardiner to a 3-year Entry Level Contract.

    After last night’s loss to Tampa Bay, you could probably use some good news this morning.

    A report out of Minnesota has noted the Leafs have signed prospect Jake Gardiner — the key acquisition in the Francois Beauchemin trade — to an entry-level contract, following the University of Wisonson’s elimination from the WCHA playoffs earlier this weekend.

    While contract details are not yet available, The Toronto Star’s Damian Cox speculated on Twitter this morning that the ELC is most likely set to kick in for the start of the 2011-12 season, meaning Gardiner would have to sign an Amateur Tryout (ATO) contract in order to play out the rest of this season with the Marlies.

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      Tyler Bozak and James Reimer celebrate a victory

      Tyler Bozak and James Reimer celebrate a victory
      Photo Credit: AP

      In what was easily their biggest game of the season, the Toronto Maple Leafs pulled off a seemingly-improbable home ice  victory over their hated rivals — and nemeses — the Buffalo Sabres.

      Thursday’s loss to Philadelphia magnified the pressure on the Maple Leafs; simply, a loss to the Sabres tonight, whom the Leafs are chasing for the 8th and final playoff spot, would essentially put an end to Toronto’s faint hopes for a long-awaited return to the playoffs.  Compounding matters, the Sabres were walking into ACC having compiled a 4-1-1 record through six games of a road trip, and a 7-1-1 record in their previous nine visits to Toronto.

      In short, this game was destined from the outset to be anything but easy for the Leafs.

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      The following is a brief summary of a research paper that was presented this past weekend by Michael E. Shuckers at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston, MA.

      DIGR: Defense-Independent Goalie Rating

      Goaltenders are generally analyzed and rated using save percentage as a key indicator of performance.  One of the common issues that crops up when using save percentage as an analytic metric is comparing one goaltender against another. Varying degrees of the quality of defense from team-to-team, and the distribution of shots faced by each goaltender, create a large margin of error for goaltender-to-goaltender comparisons.

      Michael E. Shuckers, of St. Lawrence University and Statistical Sports Consulting, has done some fascinating research into ways in which these issues can be resolved so that save percentage can be a more effective comparative statistic.  What he devised, and subsequently presented at the conference, was the concept of DIGR (Defense-Independent Goalie Rating).

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      At the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston, MA (fellow bloggers, I highly recommend you check it out next year), I had an opportunity to attend a panel discussion regarding “The Decision” — whereby the NBA’s LeBron James and Chris Bosh decided to team up to join Dwayne Wade in Miami — and its impacts on other areas of the sporting world.

      Moderated by Michael Wilbon of ESPN, the panelists included former NBA player and current Celtics’ colour commentator Donny Marshall, San Antonio Spurs’ GM R.C. Buford, NBA and NFL agent Mark Bartelstein, and Toronto Maple Leafs’ GM Brian Burke.

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      Andrew Crescenzi: he will kick your glass. (Photo Credit: The Record)

      Andrew Crescenzi : he will kick your glass. (Photo Credit: The Record)

      Earlier this afternoon, Justin Fisher (co-host of the Steve Dangle show) tweeted the rather impressive stat-lines of a few Leafs’ prospects.

      For those not on Twitter, I’ve included in this update the prospects Justin mentioned — along with a few others — after the jump.

      Players currently in the professional ranks (AHL, ECHL) are not included in this listing.

      .

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      By now, fans of the Maple Leafs are all aware of GM Brian Burke’s publicly-stated intentions to pursue a defenseman at or (preferably) prior to the Trade Deadline.

      With Tomas Kaberle and Francois Beauchemin now wearing different uniforms, the Leafs have freed up a total of $8.05m from what was a tremendously well-compensated defense corps. However, they have also created two rather large holes to fill in the process.

      While Keith Aulie has done a good job thus far filling Beauchemin’s skates, the question remains: who steps in for Tomas Kaberle? If Carl Gunnarsson is not the man for the job – and early returns indicate he may not be – another puck-mover will be essential if the Leafs are to maintain their slim playoff hopes. The question is, who should the Leafs look to target? And how much should the team be willing to give up?

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      Photo Credit: Mark Blinch/Reuters
      In the aftermath of yesterday’s trade with the Anaheim Ducks, in which Joffrey Lupul joined the Toronto Maple Leafs, many fans expressed concern over two years’ contract term at a somewhat high dollar figure for what was perceived to be declining production.

      Although it is very easy to get caught up in the base stat lines (goals, assists, points), what might be surprising to some is Lupul’s rate of production has actually remained fairly consistent during the past three seasons prior to 2010-11. Despite last season and the start of his current season being cut short due to back surgery and a subsequent blood infection, a quick look at his per-game statistics reveal few recent changes in the winger’s season-to-season productivity.

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      Photo credit: Getty Images

      The frustration was evident in Phil Kessel’s tone as he answered a stream of media questions regarding his latest goal-scoring slump, now at ten games. Or perhaps, more accurately, his tone was one of resignation.

      Sighing often, Kessel repeated the words “I don’t know” on multiple occasions in response to inquiries as to why he has been so snake-bitten, and what he feels can be done to re-discover his scoring touch. This was clearly a player at his wit’s end, a player who seemed to be completely out of answers as to why the puck won’t go in despite numerous scoring chances of late.

      It was almost enough to make one feel sympathetic toward his plight; to make one feel as though he was carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders, a victim of perpetual misfortune who was giving his all and unjustly coming up short.

      Almost.

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      Jonas Gustavsson

      Jonas Gustavsson
      Following a difficult past two months, the Monster will seek to recapture his form in the AHL.

      In a move that has been anticipated for some time now, Maple Leafs’ goaltender Jonas Gustavsson has been loaned to the Toronto Marlies on a two-week conditioning stint.

      The move creates an immediate two-fold benefit for the Leafs: (1) a chance for Gustavsson to re-discover his early-season form, and (2) an extended opportunity for James Reimer to continue his stellar play at the NHL level.

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      Mike Brown
      (Photo credit: Canadian Press)

      Mike Brown
      (Photo credit: Canadian Press)

      Per mapleleafs.nhl.com, the Toronto Maple Leafs have announced that forward Mike Brown has agreed to a three-year contract extension.

      Brown, who was set to become a RFA on July 1st, has averaged 10:03 TOI per game on primarily fourth-line and penalty-killing duty.

      Despite seeing limited action, he has had a positive impact on the club with his inspired, energetic play.

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      Bring On Training Camp!

      Phil Kessel will be looking for his 20th goal of the season tonight.

      The 12th-place Toronto Maple Leafs return from the All-Star break with a home date against the 11th-place Florida Panthers. With six points standing between themselves and the Panthers, the Leafs will have to treat this one as a must-win if they are to have any hope of making up ground in the playoff race.

      In their previous two meetings, the Leafs took a 3-1 victory on home ice, while the Panthers countered with a 4-1 victory on their home ice a month later.

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      There is little doubt among observers that the Leafs will attempt to make some moves at the trade deadline a month from now, and with the team’s leadership meeting in Florida to plot strategy, many feel there could be a shakeup coming prior to the annual auction at the end of February.

      The question is, what sort of a shakeup will GM Brian Burke be able to pull off? With the team in a rut, and several core players not playing up to expectation, can the Leafs be realistically expected to put together a major deal which could turn the franchise around?

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      Fredrik Sjostrom
      (Photo Credit: Reuters)

      Fredrik Sjostrom
      (Photo Credit: Reuters)

      In their final game before the All-Star Break, the Toronto Maple Leafs (19-24-5) head to Tampa Bay to take on Steven Stamkos and the red-hot Lightning (30-15-5), who will be looking for their fifth straight victory.

      Tampa Bay won both of the teams’ previous meetings this season: a 4-0 home shutout on November 9th, and a 4-3 victory in Toronto on November 30th.

      Against the likes of Stamkos, Lecavalier, and St. Louis, it will be imperative for the Leafs to establish a strong defensive effort early if they are to have any hope of putting an end to both the Lightning’s win streak, and their own current two-game slide.

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        Leafs Guardian

        Leafs Guardian
        (Click the pic for a larger view.)

        .
        “The Maple Leaf: A giant walking and talking maple tree. An immovable object that can grow exponentially larger at will.”

        Sometimes, there are no words.

        More information about the NHL’s Guardian Project, featuring the artwork of comic book legend Stan Lee, can be found here.

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        James Reimer
        (Photo credit: Getty Images)

        James Reimer
        (Photo credit: Getty Images)

        James Reimer has been recalled by the Toronto Maple Leafs, and is expected to get the start in one of either Monday or Tuesday’s back-to-back games (versus Carolina and Tampa Bay, respectively) as the team heads into the All-Star break.

        Reimer currently sports a 4-2-0 record with a 2.26 GAA and .933 SV% in 7 appearances with the NHL club.

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          Mike Komisarek
          Rightly or wrongly you're all just gonna say Komisarek, so...

          It is not too oftenMike Komisarek one can suggest a team’s low point of the season could come in the aftermath of a victory, but that may be the case today for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

          As if online reports that defender Mike Komisarek is being investigated for assault by Los Angeles police in relation to an incident during the team’s west coast road trip weren’t bad enough, several Leafs’ players — including the team captain — reportedly skipped an optional skate which was open to the public, at a time when the team needs all the goodwill it can get.