Analysis

Analysis

In-depth analysis of the Toronto Maple Leafs from the Leading Leafs-centric website.

317

We’re going seven. How many Leafs fans would have gladly accepted a one-game winner takes all scenario for the Leafs at the start of this series? That’s where Toronto finds itself today. Few people gave the Leafs a serious chance to beat Boston, but here we are. After falling behind in the series 3-1 following a heartbreaking game 4 loss in overtime, the Leafs have battled back to tie up the series. Both teams started the game off tentatively as there were only 15 shots on net by the Leafs and Bruins combined after one period. Toronto started to pick it up...

343

If you have been following along with my Notebooks since the playoffs started, you’ll know that I’ve continually asked if James Reimer was going to steal the Leafs a game at some point in this series. Well, he’s officially stolen one. Reimer ended up with 43 saves last night, helpeing the Leafs stave off elimination after the Bruins turned it on and launched 19 shots at him in the third period. He had two saves in particular – the toe save on Bergeron, and the knob save on Jagr — that were ten bellers. Reimer has played pretty well this...

380

No matter what happens in the rest of the series, this much is clear: The Leafs have closed the gap on the Boston Bruins. Are they equal to or better than Boston? Probably not. But compared to where the Leafs were last year against Boston, this is a dramatic improvement. Last season the Leafs weren’t even in Boston’s stratosphere. Every game was embarrassing in every way possible - the scoreline, the physicality, the intimidation, the goalies, you name it. Even if Boston does end up winning this series in 5, there’s no question Toronto has made them work for...

610

If the story of game 2 was the Leafs' excellent line-matching and the great performances from their stars, the story of game 3 was the Leafs shooting themselves in the foot. The simple fact of the matter is that when you make the mistakes the Leafs did, you are rarely going to win a playoff game. Alec already went through all of the goals against this morning so I’m not going bother doing that again. Plus, I think we all know what happened. Other than the first goal, which was the result of a lost faceoff and unfortunate bounce,...

771

Seems nobody told the Leafs this wasn’t supposed to be much of a series. Toronto stole home ice advantage from Boston with a thrilling 4-2 win last night and if the first playoff game back in Toronto didn’t already hold enough intrigue, it's now going to be officially bonkers. Here are some notes and points of discussion from one of the Leafs' best games of the season: - After game 1, I noted Chiarelli's quote about the Leafs being a faster team than Boston and how the Bruins were trying to trap their speed. Well, game 2 had so many great examples...

308

Reimer, Reimer, gotta be startin’ Reimer. The Dave Morrison Connection No secret to any hockey fan older than Rebecca Black is that Toronto Maple Leafs have a long history of poor scouting, drafting, and player development. Back in 1989, the Leafs had three first round picks of which to restock their prospect cupboard and build for the future. Instead, the budget was cut and the scouting director at the time was told to focus on one junior team and one team only – the Belleville Bulls of the Ontario Hockey League. The 1989 draft was noted for its abundance of serviceable hockey...

480

Well, that was a rude awakening wasn’t it? Here we were all were excited and pumped up about playoff hockey… Only to come crashing back to Earth watching the Leafs play like that. After the jump, I'll discuss the main narratives circulating right now and offer my two cents. From there I proceeded to re-watch the game – unfortunately — and have written out some additional notes. I'll wrap up with the biggest questions going into Game 2. *** Narratives: Leafs are inexperienced and not ready for playoff hockey. The Leafs were turning the puck over with regularity up the middle the ice on...

355

Since when do the Leafs do things the easy way, anyways? The truth is the Leafs made their bed on this one. All they had to do was beat Montreal at home on Saturday night to play the Habs and give everyone the series they wanted to see. They laid an egg. Boston blows a two goal lead against Washington and then lets in a late one against Ottawa to lose two games in a row and here we are. I don’t think the Leafs have a better chance at beating Boston than they did Montreal, but I’ll say...

514

In hiring Tim Leiweke, MLSE has brought in a guy who is partly what many fans have always wanted in a President, and partly what they detest. It is no secret that Leafs fans have always felt slighted within their perception that MLSE cares mainly about making money rather than winning. Leiweke, however, is a guy who most certainly does care about winning. In LA, he bought his own tickets to Kings games so that, as Helene Elliott of the LA Times wrote, “he could vent his passion more freely than he could in a remote suite.” When the Kings won the...

755

The Toronto Maple Leafs are officially in the playoffs. I hope that felt as good to read as it did to write. It has been a long nine years since Jeremy Roenick broke Leafs Nations’ hearts in 2004. The excitement that year was nuts. The Leafs traded for Hall of Fame defenseman Brian Leetch for a bunch of guys nobody knew existed and Toronto was buzzing with Stanley Cup hopes. I remember Leetch’s first game against the Islanders; Leetch had three points and the TV broadcast had this stupid iso-camera on Leetch every time he touched the ice. (Ironic side...

603

I hope to have an article up later in the week, but for now I thought I’d share some notes. - Make it three straight years in which a player other than Phil Kessel has taken Leafs fans by storm as the initial team points leader, and three straight years Kessel ultimately comes out on top and leads the team in scoring. First it was Clarke MacArthur, who came in as a cheap free agent and started off his Leafs tenure with 8 goals in 7 games. He finished the year with 62 points that year; Kessel finished with...

433

As the Toronto Maple Leafs skip along to their first playoff berth in eight seasons, Dion Phaneuf’s play is forcing his name to be included in discussion for the Norris Trophy.  The Norris is awarded annually to “the defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position,” and that sure sounds like the play of the Leaf captain this season. He plays a physical, two-way brand of hockey and sits fifth-best in league for defensemen scoring with eight goals and 18 assists for 26 points in 42 games.  He’s a leader on the ice, the...

195

Against the Rangers, the Leafs went 24:33 without a shot. Considering that’s nearly half of regulation, I went back and watched the tape in order to find out what exactly was going on during this time. 3:32 was the time of the Leafs last shot before they finally shot again 24:33 later. There was a delayed penalty coming up on the play for the Rangers and the Leafs were working it around New York’s zone nicely resulting in a Kulemin slap shot from the top of the circle. The Leafs had five shots on net in the first 3:32 of...

336

Notes - We haven’t discussed the PK nearly enough in this space so I thought now would be a good time to. Last year, I noted the Marlies PK system and how they play a ‘T.’ Essentially, it’s two base defenders down low and then two forwards that play in a straight line and swing back and forth when the puck is around the top of the circle. In other words, it’s a hybrid diamond/box. Last year, the Marlies had the best penalty kill in the league, killing off 88.1%, with the second place team coming in at 85.6%. This...

215

The Leafs are all but set to make the playoffs for the first time in nine years, yet there is an inordinate amount of vitriol being directed at Toronto’s head coach Randy Carlyle, for some reason. Considering pretty well everyone predicted the Leafs not to make the playoffs, it’s pretty funny to see the coach leading a surprising playoff appearance - and a team that's currently fifth in the East and 7th in the League - get chastised That’s the Toronto fishbowl for you, though. The main points receiving attention are pretty straightforward: The Leafs dress goons. Often, they dress two at the...

154

Trade Deadline 2013 is in the books. The Kiprusoff scare is over.  Leafs are still 5th in the East. “Sometimes the best moves are the ones you don’t make.”-Anthony Petrielli -(@APetrielli) For those of you who missed it and were doing something productive, yesterday's experience reminded me of a famous quote once uttered by an esteemed San Diegan news anchor. In what started off as an eerily quiet and inauspicious morning, things quickly turned into a maelstrom towards the end of the deadline at 3pm. I usually go solo on this piece but given the magnitude of the Trade Deadline, I...

1205

Dave Nonis and co. made a cheap, depth addition to their blueline today by adding Ryan O'Byrne. You would almost think the ghost of Brian Burke was behind this move as Toronto picked up a large, physical player whose impact is reflective of work ethic and toughness rather than innate hockey finesse. Some of you may remember O'Byrne from his purse-snatching days as a member of the Montreal Canadiens, where he played as a depth defenseman, before stepping into a larger role (>20 mins/g) upon joining Colorado in the 2010-2011 season. O'Byrne's success that season was a surprise as he legitimately...

459

After looking at potential trade targets in last week’s preamble, it only makes sense to look at the Leafs potential trading chips for the deadline that's two days away. Around the trade deadline, eyes always gravitate towards pending UFAs and the Leafs currently have five. It’s safe to say UFA to be - Colton Orr, Mike Kostka and Ryan Hamilton - aren’t going to bring Toronto anything via trade so we can cut them off the list of names to discuss. The other two UFAs to be are Tyler Bozak and Clarke MacArthur. For good measure, John Michael Liles has also...

Jake Gardiner

982

Thanks to @mORRganRielly for the following submission: Jake Gardiner sucks. No, just kidding.  He's pretty awesome.  He is an immensely gifted, up-and-coming defenseman, but he does have a little bit of learnin' to do.  In light of his recent scratch, I wanted to take an opportunity to delve more into his role with the Leafs and the relationship of his play against the overall performance of the Leafs defense over the course of the season.  To that end, I will be looking strictly at even-strength play rather than specialized roles like the power-play or the penalty-kill. I have had this thought for awhile...

952

‘Tis the season for Leafs trade rumours. Now, I’m not about to dig up every rumour out there on the internet and go through it, but I do want to provide some thoughts on the team, the direction of the organization, and what’s out there before the Leafs do (or don’t) make any moves. Most trade talk when it comes to the Leafs has centered on a veteran goalie for most of the year, with Roberto Luongo and now Miikka Kiprusoff being named most often. Even if we ignore that James Reimer and Ben Scrivens’ respective .918sv% and .915sv%...