Happy New Year, MLHS!
The Leafs are in Winnipeg tonight for a New Year's Eve clash with the Jets on Hockey Night Canada. In a nice storyline, James Reimer's one year anniversary between the Leafs' pipes will coincide with his first opportunity to start on NHL ice in his home province as a big league goaltender.
In the midst of a 2011 that saw a meteroic rise beyond his wildest dreams, the Brian Gionta incident and subsequent concussion - or soreneck/whiplash/concussion-like symptoms - suffered during a late October meeting with the Canadiens has posed the first major bout of adversity Reimer has had to encounter as the Leaf number one. [more…]
James Reimer and the Toronto Maple Leafs look to bounce back tonight in Carolina.
After allowing 3 goals on just 8 shots in Tuesday night's loss in Florida, Reimer will be right back in goal against the Hurricanes. He has struggled mightily on the road, sporting a 1-3-0 record with a 4.26 GAA and .852 SV%. Contrast that to a stellar 6-0-3 mark with a 2.27 GAA and .924 SV% at home.
Reimer will not be the only one trying to end his struggles on the road, as the Leafs penalty kill is just 7-for-17 in the last 4 road games. That's a frightening 41.2%. Yikes.
It's a match up we'll see a lot more of come the divisional realignment next season.
The Maple Leafs look to make it three in a row as they begin their post-Christmas three-game road swing tonight against a future divisional opponent in the Florida Panthers.
It hasn't been an easy task for visiting opponents at the BankAtlantic Centre so far this season. The surprising Panthers have earned at least a point in 13 of their 16 home games. Â The Panthers return home tonight looking to end a three-game losing skid, including an 8-0 loss to the Bruins in Boston before the break.
The Leafs will be without veteran defenceman John Michael Liles for an undetermined length of time as he's the latest addition to the NHL's growing list of concussion victims. The 31-year-old joins 29-year-old Mike Komisarek in theÂ infirmary, leaving 26-year-old Dion Phaneuf as the elder statesman of the Leafs defence ranks. [more…]
Ron Wilson will stick with the same lineup (edit: Liles out, Gardiner in) that defeated Buffalo at home yesterday as the Leafs try to enter their short Christmas break on a two-game win streak tonight on Long Island.
That means Reimer, who has been making up for lost time in stopping 80 of 84 shots faced over his last two games, gets both games of the back to back. Evgeni Nabokov will start in net for the Isles. Nabokov is 2-6 on the season despite some decent individual numbers (2.69 GAA, .914 SV%).
The biggest threat the Islanders pose is their top line of John Tavares, Matt Moulson and P.A. Parenteau. All are in the high 20s in points this season, and Moulson has 16 points in his last 12 games. [more…]
It's Nazem Kadri night at the ACC. Not really, but everyone will be keeping an eye on the 21-year-old as he makes his return to the Maple Leafs lineup for his first appearance since a three-game stint in late October.
Kadri will be playing the right wing, with Connolly at center and MacAthur on his opposite board, as the Leafs roll three scoring lines tonight against the visiting Sabres.
Buffalo is one point back of the Leafs for second in Northeast Division and seventh in the East. A Leaf loss to the Sabres tonight combined with a Senators win over Florida would drop the Leafs down to fourth in the division, and out of a playoff spot. Too early to scoreboard and standings watch, perhaps, but this is an important four-point game against a division rival and a likely competitor for those late playoff seeds come March and April. [more…]
One of the league's most scored on teams will face off against the least scoringest tonight at the Air Canada Centre. It's a testament to the Kings' (and Jonathan Quick's) ability to prevent goals that they're .500 in spite of a 2.12 goals per game average. You'd expect the Kings to pick it up eventually (particularly when Mike Richards returns from injury), but as a point of reference there's only been one team to finish a season below 2.12 goals per game since the lockout. That was the 2010-11 New Jersey Devils, who averaged a paltry 2.08 GPG.Â With Richards out, the Kings have struggled to find offense beyond Anze Kopitar as the likes of Justin Williams, Dustin Penner, Dustin Brown, Jarret Stoll and Drew Doughty have all greatly underproduced.
After coaching the Kings to their first playoff appearance in eight years in 2009-10, and returning to the post season again last season, the Kings' front office didn't wait long to pull the plug on now former head coach Terry Murray and replace him on an interim basis with John Stevens after some struggles out of the gate. This is the third team fresh off a coaching change the Leafs have played in the last week and a half (Washington, Carolina, Los Angeles). It's certainly become a "what have you done for me lately" league now as coaching changes are employed as a shake up strategy more than anything. The loyalty Burke has to his bench boss and the commitment to building a winner under his guy's direction is either refreshing or faulty depending on your perspective. Either way it's strange to think of the marginal difference in the standings between the Leafs and teams like the Kings and Habs, playoff teams as of recent seasons who have both changed faces behind the bench while Burke reportedly considers an extension. [more…]
I'm assuming it's Canucks fanboy Jim Hughson - along with the usual cast of characters (my invitation stands, Glen Healy) - commentating this game tonight. Your MLHS key to the game: Execute good remote management and utilize the mute button.
It's always a special night when the Canucks visit the ACC. The Nucks are again one of the top teams in the league, so this is a good measuring stick for the Buds. The Leafs were lit up for four and five goals respectively in their two losses to Vancouver last season
Jonas Gustavsson will be in net to try to quiet this high-powered Canucks offense. The Monster has been playing up to his name as of late. 5-1 in his last six with a 2.31GAA and .929SV%. [more…]
A Friday night in Buffalo. Brings back some pretty bad memories, doesn't it?
We all know the First Niagara Centre, formerly known as the HSBC house of horror, has been far from kind to the Leafs. Maybe it's the awful view from the hotel rooms, but the Leafs' trip down the QEW has usually been a welcome sight for the Sabres and city of Buffalo in general. Indeed, the only thing that briefly halts this cesspool's population decline is Canadians traveling the QEW to watch the Leafs play.
Maybe, though, the Leafs have put an end to the curse after a sweet 2-1 in Buffalo last February thanks to Joey Crabb's awesome shorthanded goal. At the time of that win, I remember feeling it was a crowning moment in the rivalry. The Leafs are no longer that slower, less skilled team who gets embarrassed in front of theÂ mass legions of visitingÂ Leafs fans. The Leafs went on to beat Buffalo twice at the ACC after that to even the season series. [more…]
The last placed Carolina Hurricanes visit the Air Canada Centre tonight without leading scorer Jeff Skinner, who is out with a likely concussion. Skinner is the only Cane with more than 19 points to his name this season.
New head coach Kirk Muller is 1-6 since replacing Paul Maurice behind the bench in late November as the Canes continue to sit bottom five in all the major statistical categories. There's rarely such a thing as an easy game nowadays but this is a tilt you really should take two points from.
James Reimer starts in net for the Leafs. In a weird turn of events, recently the team has been winning in front of Gustavsson and losing in front of Reimer. Gustavsson is 5-1 in his last six outings with a 2.31 GAA and a .929 save percentage, and has posted a very respectable 9-5 record on the season. An interesting stat from Jonas Siegel - the team has scored 3.85 goals per game in front of Gustavsson after scoring merely 2.23 last season. This team has been a higher scoring outfit, no doubt, but there's got to be some element to it of improved confidence and trust from his teammate. [more…]
I'm not actually sure which usage ("capital" or "capitol") is correct there. Is anyone? People apparently used to say that as an exclamation of being pleased with something. And by "used to say that", I actually mean that Pete Campbell may have said it once on Mad Men (so I assume it's true). And since Mad Men features a lot of people wearing suits, I consider that vague connection a decent enough excuse to use an oddly-Presidential Photoshop for the GDT. Definitely not just because it's funny, or the first one that comes up in our media library when you search for 'Ovechkin'. [more…]
The Leafs return home to host the Devils in their second game in as many nights. The Leafs last met the Devils in the first half of a back to back, won 5-3, and ended up beating the Blue Jackets the next night to sweep the four points. The Leafs have split their other two back to backs this season.
Joffrey Lupul finished as the NHL's points leader in the month of November. The Leafs' last meeting with the Devils played a big role in that as Lupul netted a hat trick in a 5-3 win on November 2. The winger put up 19 points in the month and the Leafs, a week into December, still own two top five NHL point scorers in he and Phil Kessel. What started out as a seemingly hot start has turned into a sustained period of amazing production for the pair. [more…]
From the league's hottest team to the league's second hottest team, the Maple Leafs are in New York in hopes of getting back on the winning side of the ledger against the red-hot Rangers after a back to back sweep at the hands of the Boston Bruins last week. With 33 points in just 23 games, the Rangers could easily be tops of the East soon with some points in their games in hand.
The Leafs handed the Rangers one of only five regulation losses this season on October 27, when they earned an ugly 4-1 road win and took advantage of a rather human-looking Henrik Lundqvist on the always shitty Madison Square Garden ice. Jonas Gustavsson earned the W and will get the start tonight, unless Wilson and fellow bully/"local embarrassment" Brian Burke pull another fast one on Damien and Steve. [more…]