While the NHL and game of hockey in general is harder to quantify overall player value than an almost purely numbers based game such as baseball, I feel attempting to identify (and measure) the hidden value of intangibles could be a real advantage to a team.Â Since the explosion of advanced statistical analysis in baseball there have been a ton of different stats, ratios and metrics come and go and while they can be a bit intimidating and confusing they also all serve a simple purpose for the most part, establishing value in some form or another. [more…]
According to the good folks at Sports Club Stats the Toronto Maple Leafs have approximately a 5 percent chance of making the playoffs.Â Yeah, pretty bleak... five out of one hundred times this Leafs team will make the big dance.Â If James Reimer doesnâ€™t continue to play like a Vezina trophy candidate I think we can safely say the Leafs stand no chance at all.
James Reimer (prior to Saturdayâ€™s game) has played in 17 games, sports a 10-4-2 record to go along with a sparkling 2.24 GAA and a shiny .930 save percentage.Â In short, he has played like one of the top goaltenders in hockey during his short stretch as the Maple Leafs number one option.Â His current stats would rank him in sole possession of fifth in the NHL in GAA and second in save percentage (behind only Tim Thomas). [more…]
What man that sees the ever whirling wheel
Of Change, the which all mortal things doth sway,
But that thereby doth find, and plainly feel,
How Mutability in them doth play
Her cruel sports, to many men's decay?
-Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queen
Change surrounds us.Â So powerful and pervasive a part of nature is it that the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus saw in it the unity of all things.Â Change played such a central role in the Ephesian philosopher's beliefs that he became famous (among philosophy geeks, anyway) for his pronouncement that because everywhere things are always becoming, always in flux, a man cannot step in the same river twice.Â Heraclitus insisted that our eyes and ears were "evil witnesses" that deceived us, making humans perceive certain things (like mountains or rivers) as static or permanent when in reality, there is only an endless succession of transitory moments.
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.
Just finished watching the Brian Burke press conference on my PVR (damn our angry Irish overlord for choosing afternoon drive time to play Meet the Press on this one).Â First, a few of the press conference highlights that I noted.Â Following that, I'll share my (hurried) analysis.
- The basic structure of the deal (which had previously been widely reported - what an afternoon on Twitter) was confirmed, Beauchemin to Anaheim for RW Joffrey Lupul, D Jake Gardiner and a conditional draft pick;
- Burke pointed out that Gardiner had played for Wisconsin as a true freshman, and noted "that's hard".Â Gardiner's schooling will not be disrupted by the Leafs until (at the very earliest) the end of the season;
No the Toronto Maple Leafs are not trying to reacquire Jiri Tlusty but they are quickly turning into one of the streakiest teams in the NHL this season.Â Â With their current four game winning streak going strong I thought Iâ€™d take a look at just how streaky they have been â€“ Toronto now has 18 wins, 20 losses plus 4 overtime/shootout losses.Â
Of the Leafs 18 wins, eight have been garnered on some form of a winning streak as the Leafs started the year on a four game winning streak.Â However, the losses have also come in bunches, greatly counteracting the impressive win streaks, and then some.Â [more…]
The Maple Leafs have reached the halfway point of the season on a tear, winning five of six games to kick off 2011 in style.
Despite the hot streak the team remains mired in 12th place in the Eastern conference, a full 11 points out of the eighth and final playoff spot. While much can happen over the second half of the season, it is safe to say the Maple Leafs have not -- as a collective unit -- approached pre-season expectations.
The question is, which players are on pace to equal -- or exceeded -- pre-season expectations, and which players are not?
Rightly or wrongly, the big minute logging shutdown defenceman can be a thankless job in the world of hockey and the reason is simple. When you're doing your job right, it doesn't usually look like much. When you make a mistake, the puck often ends up in the back of the net. People usually take more notice of the latter.
Francois Beauchemin is perhaps exhibit A in this regard. "Getting Beauch'd" has become somewhat of a catchphrase (at least in my residence) for Leafs fans when #22 is on the ice and the puck ends up in the back of the net, usually as a result of one of his team-leading 53 giveaways. Few would argue Beauchemin has been guilty of more than a few glaring defensive miscues this season, perhaps above and beyond what can be expected of a major minute logging defenceman. [more…]
Brian Burke has been oft-criticized for various moves since beginning his tenure as the GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs but after witnessing the recent Brian Rolston waiver situation I think we should start to also give him at least a tiny bit of credit.Â Burke has gone on record as saying he doesnâ€™t believe in the long term contracts that NHL teams are throwing around in recent years and he wonâ€™t be giving any Leafs player this type of deal anytime soon â€“ though hard to say if any of the current Leafs are worthy.
When asked about the Kovalchuck circumvention case he was quoted as saying â€œThe risk a team assumes with a long-term deal is a different issue [than] whether itâ€™s permitted under the CBA. So thatâ€™s a different issue.â€Â Itâ€™s clear he doesnâ€™t believe this is a prudent way to do business and although I wish we actually had a Jeff Carter to lock-up, maybe he is right.
â€œWeâ€™re two years away from expiration of the CBA. My mindset hasnâ€™t changed. The league sets the rules here, theyâ€™ve given us the rules and now weâ€™ll go forward under those rules. Iâ€™m not going to rule out anything thatâ€™s permissible under the league bylaws or under the CBA.â€ [more…]
Quick note: Complications resulting from increased university work, my job and sickness have combined to prevent me from doing any articles recently. The good news is I should have that stuff figured out, so expect some larger team articles soon.
Brett Lebda came into Toronto with a lot of praise from current Leafs VP of Hockey Operations Dave Poulin. The praise came from a familiar place; Poulin was the head coach for the University of Notre Dame for 10 years, where he initially scouted and recruited Lebda for their program. Lebda later chose Detroit as his destination for pro hockey, staying in their system for seven years, of which five were spent with the Red Wings themselves. He lived under the shadow and tutelage of great defensemen such as Nicklas Lidstrom, Mathieu Schneider and Chris Chelios. [more…]
31 games and a 12-15-4 record into the season, the struggling Maple Leafs find themselves the subject of several hotly-contested debates over many facets of the club. Is this the real Phil Kessel? Gustavsson or Giguere? And what of Ron Wilson?
My own responses to each of these questions are posted after the jump, and as always I invite you to share yours in the comments below.
You can never give up hope especially with 51 games remaining in the NHL schedule but with the Toronto Maple Leafs currently eight points out of a playoff spot with four teams also ahead of them to get there the odds are pretty stacked against them.Â Last season I believe only one team made the playoffs that werenâ€™t already officially among the top eight seeds as of December 1/2009 and that was the Philadelphia Flyers and we all remember how they managed to squeak in.Â
One could argue that they [Flyers] probably should have been in the race from the first game of the season given the roster of talent they possess and eventual trip all the way to the Stanley Cup finals.Â Nobody would make that same argument for this yearâ€™s version of the Leafs and while there is always a chance, I am not overly optimistic.Â
So if we arenâ€™t looking at a playoff berth what are we playing for? [more…]