Defence is a lot more multi-faceted than is the forward position. It requires more finesse and more all around ability in order to rise to the upper echelon of NHL defencemen. The Leafs tried to compliment each of their offensive defencemen with a more defensive partner. This is a winning strategy often used on championship teams. With that in mind, of the six regulars on Toronto's blue line at the end of the season, who rises to the top? Let's find out.
The previous articles in this series are recommended reading. You can find "Season in Review: Top 6 Forwards" here, while the article entitled "Season in Review: Bottom 6 Forwards" can be found here. [more…]
Please read the preceding article in this series on top 6 forwards here. For this article, the bottom 6 forwards on the Leafs are: Colby Armstrong, Joey Crabb, John Mitchell, Darryl Boyce, Fredrik Sjostrom, Tim Brent, Mike Brown, Jay Rosehill and Colton Orr. I decided to leave Kadri out of my forward reviews due to his few games played in conjunction with his rapid change from top 6 to bottom 6 from game to game.
When all is said and done, the bottom 6 forwards on Toronto in the 2010-11 season dropped the ball in a big way. This is no more obvious than in their scoring. We've established that Toronto's top 6 scored at a decent clip, but the bottom 6 had almost none at all. The leading scorer in Toronto's bottom 6 was Colby Armstrong with a measly 8 goals. Third liners should all be expected to score at least 12-15 goals per year if you want to be a serious championship contender. In 09-10, the leading bottom 6 scorer on the Leafs was Lee Stempniak, who managed 14 goals in 62 games (and somehow ending the year with 28). It goes without saying that if a bottom 6 group scores as little as Toronto's did this season, they have to be making up for it with some stellar defensive play. Let's take a look at some of the relatively unseen stats (which can be found at BehindTheNet.ca) and see what we can find. [more…]
If this is an "Inception" inspired dream, James Reimer is going to be one angry guy. Â But who's kidding, Christopher Nolan is tied up on other projects, and even more of a stretch would be to see the happy-go-lucky Reimer mad.
Although I'm not sure he's even had to time to sit down, lean back, and take in everything he has accomplished this past season, James Reimer is on a whirlwind tour through the land of hockey, picking up fans and supporters along the way.
One little note: The terms top 6 and bottom 6 are thrown around rather frequently, but theyâ€™re anything but that simple in reality. Lines change often and players move up and down based on recent performance. For the sake of the article, I will be naming the following players top 6 players on the Leafs: Phil Kessel, Clarke MacArthur, Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolai Kulemin, Joffrey Lupul and Tyler Bozak.
The curtain has closed on another disappointing Leaf season without the playoffs. This year had more than its fair share of ups and downs, but the emotional end leaves hope for the future. Goaltending was certainly the biggest change in the second half, with Reimer stepping up after Giguere and Gustavsson tumbled to the floor. But there was another noticeable improvement to the Leafs this season: top 6 scoring. Two players reached 30 goals this year (Phil Kessel, Nikolai Kulemin), improving on last seasonâ€™s one (Kessel again). This was helped by two further players getting at least 20 goals (Mikhail Grabovski, Clarke MacArthur), again improving over last seasonâ€™s one (Niklas Hagman). However, there is much more to winning NHL games than scoring some goals. With that said, weâ€™re going to analyze the Leafsâ€™ top 6 forwards and see which players rise to the top. [more…]
The season is over, but the postmortem examination is just beginning. I'll open this period of speculation, hope and dissection of our favorite hockey team with a piece that grades our entire roster beginning with forwards and ending with the masked men of TO.
Players who played part years like Matt Lashoff were not included because I think most would agree 11 games are not nearly enough to grade him on a seasonal basis, nor is it fair to that particular player. The grading system varies from A+ to D- but there is one exception (guess who?). Everyone likes grades.
Well, what are you waiting for? Do continue. [more…]
"Put a candle in the window,
'cause I feel I've got to move.
Though I'm going, going,
I'll be coming home soon.
Long as I can see the light."
- John Fogerty
You probably don't need the following statistical breakdown to know the answer to the above question. I'll try to keep the anointing oil on the shelf but we haven't had a Leaf rookie step into the lineup and make this type of immediate impact since Felix Potvin. Just as the post-lockout plight of terrible goaltending looked to be continuing to haunt the Leafs, the new year brought new hope; Optimus Reim rolled out, and Leafs Nation has been walking in a Reimer wonderland ever since. [more…]
Last night's 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers combined with the Buffalo Sabres 4-3 (OT) victory over the Boston Bruins has nearly sunk the fading playoff hopes of the Toronto Maple Leafs.Â In fact, the Maple Leafs are almost in need of a miracle to regain any real chance of actually making the big dance.Â According to Sports Club Stats the Leafs current chances of making it are now sitting at an all-time low of 2.3%.
To make the playoffs the Leafs are going to have to nearly run the table to get to the needed 92 or 93 points.Â With 14 games remaining in the season the Leafs will have to go 11-1-2 just to get to 92 points, and that might not even be a guaranteed playoff spot.Â If I just killed your spirit I apologize but this is just the reality of the extremely bleak situation facing the Toronto Maple Leafs. [more…]
With another trade deadline behind us, the NHL season truly enters "crunch time" as rosters are set (for the most part) and the push for the Cup gets underway.
Most teams, including the Leafs, chose not to ripple any waters on February 28th - save for a few minor deals and an even smaller amount of major transactions.
While some media outlets will suggest that the teams surrounding the Leafs in the playoff race added key components while Brian Burke sat on his hands, this simply isn't true.
If Toronto fail to make the postseason, it won't be due to the fact that the Hurricanes and Thrashers added Bryan Allen and Radek Dvorak, respectively. Nor will it be because Brad Boyes is now a Buffalo Sabre.
in return for prospect Mikhail Stefanovich.
Update: Brian Burke tells MLHS Brunnstrom will start with the Marlies - "we'll see how he does." He adds that there's no change in the Standard Player Contract count as Stefanovich was still Leaf property, "but he had time left, Fabian does not." A trade off of term for salary from the sounds of it.
The 25-year-old Brunnstrom, who generated a sweepstakes of sorts after a big year for Farjestads, was originally a target of John Ferguson's when he opted for the Dallas Stars as his NHL destination in spring, 2008. A promising if injury shortened rookie campaign of 17 goals in 55 games preceded a disastrous sophomore season that saw him spend some time with the AHL's Texas Stars and nearly led to arbitration after he felt he was lowballed by the Stars' initial qualifying offer. The sides settled on a one-year, one-way contract extension worth $675,000. [more…]
Phoenix moved Wojtek Wolski today to the New York Rangers for Michal Rozsival. Wolski represents the prototypical power forward/winger that Brian Burke has insisted that he may be after in leu of a legitimate front line center most are reporting the Leafs most desperately require. Â Was Brian Burke trying to acquire Wolski? Absolutely...
It should come as no surprise that James Reimer received an opportunity to start in the NHL, during his re-call to fill in for the injured Jean-Sebastien Giguere. What is somewhat of a surprise is the amount Reimer has played (3 starts in the pastÂ 4 games) during a time where Jonas Gustavsson was expected to seize the opportunity to prove himself the Maple Leafs' netminder of the future.
The question is, to what degree has Reimer's performanceÂ influenced the decision to use him as the de-facto starter, rather than the incumbent? Is Reimer receiving an extended look as part of an evaluation toward his future in Toronto -- or are the Leafs showcasing him to other teams?
Update: Reimer gets the start tonight ... his fourth in the past five games.