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DENVER, CO - JANUARY 21: Gabriel Landeskog #92 of the Colorado Avalanche and Dion Phaneuf #3 of the Toronto Maple Leafs collide with force at the Pepsi Center on January 21, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. The Leafs defeated the Avalanche 5-2. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)
These Leafs are rolling.
Their first six game winning streak since 2006 comes thanks to another offensive explosion and a commendable effort in a back-to-back situation at mile-high altitude against a top team in the West. The Leafs chased goaltender Semyon Varlamov, who was 11-0-5 in his last 16, with three goals on their first 10 shots.
Team Records: Leafs – 3-0-0 vs. Avalanche – 2-0-0
2012-13 Season Series: Two teams haven’t met since October 17, 2011.
Key Matchup: Patrick Roy vs. ACC stanchions
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With a 4-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche last night, the Leafs have moved into a tie with the Carolina Hurricanes for ninth place in the Eastern Conference with 78 points, putting them three back of the Buffalo Sabres, whoÂ sit in eighth with two games in hand. Based on the past few seasons, the minimum number of points needed to qualify for the playoffs falls between 90 and 92 points. In order to reach that mark, the Leafs must win at least six of their final seven games. The goal heading into this west coast road trip was to collect four out of a possible six points, which has already been accomplished, so earning at least one point in Detroit on Saturday will be a major bonus for the team.
James Reimer is clearly the engine that drives the Leafsâ€™ success, however there is one player in particular who hasnâ€™t garnered nearly the amount of attention that he deserves based on his play this season. With spotlight shining on Clarke MacArthur, Mikhail Grabovski and of course Phil Kessel, there has been less talk of Nikolai Kulemin and his under the radar performance. With two goals last night, he has moved within two tallies of the 30-goal mark for the first time in his career. The 25-year old forward hasÂ not only set a career high in goals (28), assists (26)Â and overall points (54), but he has also been one of the team’s best penalty killers.
Check out your Leafs Links after the jump.
For Greg McKegg, nothing has necessarily come easy in his hockey career. Â A slow start to his rookie campaign in Erie, followed by a knee injury which threatened the start of his season this past year, McKegg began the year as a winger for the Erie Otters that ISS ranked in the 90′s.
It was something that McKegg couldn’t not think about, no matter how much he tried.
“It’s something you try not to think about too much really, but you can’t help but look. Â It was disappointing to see that for sure, but I think it gives you that edge to work harder and show people that you deserve to be higher up on the list.”
And that is exactly what he did.
Being described by some in the hockey circles as a perennial underdog, McKegg did the only thing he knew how to do. Â Work hard.
Whichever way you cut it, the Leafs endured a torrid season that no statistical tinkering can mend. Regardless, if there is one thing most opposing NHL fans can agree on itâ€™s the increasing need for an overhaul in the leagues pointsâ€™ structure and the farcical awarding of points in the overall standings.
Where once every game had two points at stake, either by means of two for the win or split after an OT tie, the inclusion of an extra point for teams losing in OT or, more prevalently, after the shootout, has spawned an lopsided points structure that favours teams and coaches who adopt an cautious approach toward the end of regulation time that is the polar opposite of what was originally intended.
The Playoffs are about to start and what better time than now for the CFB predictions. We highlight every series with individual writers giving their own opinion on why or how a particular team can win the series. This is the Round 1 Predictions for the Western Conference.
It’s that time of year again. Â The most wonderful time of the year. Â No, not Christmas, and no, you won’t see any of those silly Staples commercials.
It’s time for the NHL playoffs.
The annual spring tournament that features some of the most exciting hockey of the season. Â It’s Â triple overtime games that rage on long into the night, games so long that you’ll hope you saved some sick days. Â It’s players skating through pain, all for the common goal of lifting Lord Stanley’s Cup.
And the great fans of the NHL, well they have the best seat in the house.
Around this time of year, especially the first round, marriages are postponed. Â Assignments are left on desks unfinished. Â Scheduled are cleared, or built around. Â Kiss your wife or girlfriend, and tell her you’ll see her in a few months, a better person than when you last saw her.
Submitted by Michael Stephens (a.k.a.Â Baumgartner)
Apparently Sidney Crosby still lives with Mario Lemieux. Anyone else find that weird? Dude, youâ€™re almost 23. Youâ€™ve got a Stanley cup ring, an Olympic gold medal, an 8.7 million dollar per year salary (to say nothing of the endorsements). Damn man, move out already. But I digress…
Just wanted to share a fantastic bit of work done by Nights, one of our many enthusiastic and intelligent readers, who evaluated how the NHL landscape would look without the first 8 games of the season during which the Maple Leafs struggled mightily. Great work!
Ho hum, a Saturday night without hockey in Toronto. Here are some interesting/random thoughts to consider:
- Now with 8 goals on the season, Phil Kessel has more goals in his 12 games than the Bruins’ highest leading scorer Patrice Bergeron (7 in 25 games played). Wow.
- With Kessel in the lineup, the Leafs are 5-4-3, earning 13 out of a possible 24 points. Without him, they’re 1-7-4. Yikes.
- More on Kessel; For some reason, he seems to love the weekend adrenaline rush. 20 goals and 35 points in 33 Friday, Saturday or Sunday games for Phil last season. This year, he’s got 5 goals and 8 points in 6 weekend affairs.
- The Leafs are dead last in the NHL with a 5.4% shooting percentage, compared to the ridiculous 12.8% of the Colorado Avalanche. Jason Blake’sÂ sniping ‘em at a 2.6% success rate. In other words, he’s going to score every 38.4 shots… Fantastic. Meanwhile, Hagman’s putting them in at an godly 18.6% clip.
- Francois Beauchemin is playing very well of late with 5 points in his last 10 games with a -2 rating, and averaging just a tad under 26 minutes/night during that stretch. Compare that to the 4 points and -7 rating he had after the first 14 games.
As the Leafs prepare for the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight, it occurs to many fans that while the Leafs are looking strong as of late, the fate of their playoffs hopes certainly lives and dies on the team’s ability to win in extra time. While it does not show immediately, the 7 extra points from overtime losses would still have them in 14th in the East, but it would have them with 22 points on the year and within 3 points for a playoff position. Toronto has had plenty of practice playing 4 on 4 overtimes and participating in shootouts, it’s time to start capitalizing on these extra points.
This will be the first and only time these two teams will meet this season. Their last tilt took place on November 22, 2008 in Toronto where Chicago won the game 5-4 in overtime.
Note: Be sure to check out Alex Tran’s quick hits of the day!
Is tonight the night? The Toronto Maple Leafs (0-5-1) look for their first win of the season, as they take on the New York Rangers (6-1-0) at the Air Canada Centre. Will a change of routine help the Buds get of the schnide?
Bad goaltending is now blamed on an injury. The Leafs have called up rookie James Riemer who will be sitting on the bench tonight as Joey MacDonald gets the nod. Vesa Toskala has apparently suffered an undisclosed injury after last night’s 7-2 loss (my bet is a fan clubbed him Nancy Kerrigan style) and is now out. Toronto’s top two goaltenders (arguably) are now sidelined. Gustavsson is expected to return sometime next week.
Five games in, no wins, and few positives within the play to indicate a turnaround is coming soon.
Something has to be done to shake up this roster.Â Â Some sort of move needs to be made, that much is clear.
The question is, what?
The Rangers are riding a 4 game win streak, the Leafs are not. The Rangers have a goal differential of +8 in their last 4 games, the Leafs have a goal differential of -6 in their last 3 games. The Rangers are 5th in the league on the PK (88%), while the Leafs are last (53.8%). The Rangers are 4th in the league for goals against per game (2.00). The Leafs are tied in last place with Florida at 4.25.
A variety of discussion points to kick off the weekend including the imminent departure of Justin Pogge and the Marlies goaltending situation going into next season. Is it finally James Reimer’s time to shine? Also, a quick look at the latest flurry of moves made by the Boston Bruins, and how that may affect a potential Leaf trade for the still unsigned Phil Kessel.
This time of year pretty much everyone is doing a mock draft of some sort.Â So, with one week to go until the Entry Draft, I figure it’s time I chip in with my two cents on what may or may not unfold with the top 10 picks come June 26.
Note that the draft projections listed here are made based on current draft positions, and are not reflective of any possible trades involving the top 10 picks.
So you’re Brian Burke and it’s July 1st.
Who do you go after? And what is the contract you offer?
The Tyler Bozak “Sweepstakes” are nearly coming to an end and according to Bob Mckenzie, the talented young forward from the University of Denver may make his decision as early as today after much speculation that he was supposed to sign yesterday. Apparently, the 23 year old Regina, Saskatchewan native has narrowed down his list to 3 or 4 teams, with Toronto and Ottawa believed to be among the finalists.
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