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Toronto Maple Leafs

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David Clarkson

With the HBO 24/7 sideshow and the 2014 Winter Classic spectacle now behind them, the Toronto Maple Leafs look to continue a three-game winning streak versus the New York Rangers.

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Amid the memorable, record-setting event in Ann Arbor, Dave Nonis snuck in a trade with Carolina: The long-rumoured swap of bad contracts involving John Michael Liles and Tim Gleason.

Usually, HBO’s 24/7 beats the actual Winter Classic in fanfare and expectation. This year, it has simply been a welcomed preview. The Big House in Ann Arbour, Michigan gathered a record number of bodies (105,491 people), vastly exceeding 71,217 humans attending the first Winter Classic in 2008. After a tough 5-4 SO loss against the Wings on December 21st, the Leafs were due for a victory. Paul Ranger had the right idea, wearing the eye-paint of the tiger and looking very much up for a game which brought him and all those in attendance to the core of their love of hockey. We’ve all been waiting for this a long time, so let’s see how this one panned out.

1) The Leafs are 21-16-5 and this was a proper celebration of the game. Also, in the midst of the Classic it was confirmed that JM Liles and Dennis Robertson were traded to Carolina for a dependable shutdown defenseman Tim Gleason. Don’t expect miracles, but the defensive end of things should be somewhat bolstered by his presence. Now, let’s get to the on-ice happenings. Considering the standings, this was an important game for both teams.

2) The conditions certainly played a major part right from the start, and showering the goaltenders wasn’t really frowned upon as much with all the snow. Frequent breaks for ice cleanup offered a chance for some additional strategizing on the benches. Dump and chase was the name of the game as goalies weren’t advised to take field trips behind their net (Bernier didn’t seem to have any trouble in doing so, though). Also, the surface made it difficult for players like Datsyuk to take full advantage of their puck-handling skills offensively but a lot of it played into Detroit’s hands with the kind of ‘meat and potatoes’ style of play they employ which was obvious by the shot count after the opening frame. The first powerplay of the game came after Abdelkader crosschecked Phaneuf from behind in the corner and the Californian made ice/snow removers were once again called into action. A fresh sheet of ice didn’t help the Leafs who couldn’t really put anything dangerous on Jimmy Howard.

3) Like Healy noticed (or heard on 24/7) all Detroit defenseman are left handed shooters which made it difficult for their defense to handle the puck on their off-side, especially in conditions like these. Unfortunately, the Leafs didn’t take advantage of that throughout the opening period. The Wings got their first man advantage during the middle of the opening frame when Lupul took a revenge on Kindl’s hit by crosschecking Eaves into the head. Bernier had to be really sharp since the Wings’ powerplay didn’t look as lethargic – still, no goals were scored as Dan Cleary looked to the sky following another good save by the Leafs netminder. The period ended with some grit shown by the Leafs and another good penalty kill following an unfortunate penalty call on Dion.

4) The water bottles were a tougher opponent for the likes of Todd Bertuzzi today. The things were frozen solid and required frequent replacements to keep the goaltenders hydrated. As the second period played out, Nazem Kadri got absolutely robbed by Howard on the best opportunity of the game created by Joffrey Lupul. The kid was slamming his stick on the bench for missing that one. We also found out that the elements were no match for the greatness of Pavel Datsyuk who was still doing his thing in the second.

5) The middle frame saw both teams pushing the pace, but the majority of puck possession and chances still belonged to the Red Wings. Half way into it, Dan Cleary couldn’t put the biscuit past a sprawling Jonathan Bernier who got a slight piece of it and continued with his solid performance in this one. Tatar’s rush just prior to that wasn’t something to sneeze at either. The Leafs were spending too much time in their own zone and the Wings almost made them pay. The shot count stood 19-10 in favor of the red team 12 minutes into the 2nd.

6) Wings got a break on a lucky bounce of the boards which put Zetterberg and Alfredsson on a two-on-one break as Franson got caught up ice. Surely enough, that got them first goal of the hockey game. This was followed by another Leafs penalty, Jay McClement sat in the box as Leafs Nation held their breath. A two goal lead with one period to play, in a game like this – yeah, you’re basically done. Fortunately, the PK did it’s job, thanks mostly to some stellar saves by Bernier. First he stole one from Cleary and followed that up with a 10-bell save on Detroit’s top powerplay unit. Some end to end stuff saw Howard do the same on JVR after his big hit, resulting in a Leafs man advantage. It was surely too late, but the US-born goalie was making his final bid for a roster spot at the Sochi Olympics, stopping the Buds time after time. Be that as it may, our own American wouldn’t be denied. JVR tied the game just 37 second from the buzzer by batting a puck out of the air and scoring past Howard who was seemingly unbeatable down low. Phil Kessel (12:43) and van Riemsdyk (12:34) were leading all forwards in ice time after 2.

7) The tying goal set everyone up for a terrific third period. Dion Phaneuf’s bloody lip gave him an some added nastiness, which seemed to be squarely aimed at Daniel Alfredsson. He was pinching and frequently finishing checks, the best of which coming against the Swede in the offensive zone where he got the puck and the man.

8)  Our captain also celebrated his new contract with a huge assist from the point. He simply threw a puck to the net, it passed a bunch of bodies and sticks in front and ended up behind Detroit’s goaltender – a quick review was made but it was definitely a good goal, a vital goal, which should kill all the talk about his extension, even if only for a brief period of time. Bozak was credited with a deflection in the end.

9) A half-handed effort by Franson let Abdelkader power his way to the net and put the puck behind Bernier. Nothing in hockey, especially in a spectacle such as this, comes easy. The Wings pinched like crazy and it most certainly paid off. Still, if there was any doubt prior to tonight, Jonathan Bernier used the brightest of spotlights to grab the starting position ahead of James Reimer. Perhaps, this will be the biggest storyline of the Winter Classic. Overtime, as exciting as it was, solved nothing and the game went to a shootout where Tyler Bozak, of all people, scored to end the game. Welcome back sir!

10) The final episode of 24/7 will taste much sweeter now. It’s not a Stanley Cup, but it’s a major win the team can rally around and a soothing sensation for the entire contingent of Leafs Nation, which can finally celebrate something. Enjoy it.

2014 Winter Classic Shot Location Data

2014 Winter Classic Shot Location Data

2014 Winter Classic Game in 6

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2014 Winter Classic

It’s been a year and a half of a build up for the 2014 Winter Classic. The NHL lockout prevented the winter classic for happening  January 1, 2013, and now a year later, the event being dubbed as “The Biggest Hockey Game Of All Time” is going to take place today, weather permitted.

HBO 24/7 has been documenting two teams: the Detroit Red Wings, who have been struggling with injury and consistency problems and, the Toronto Maple Leafs, who have been struggling with injury and consistency problems.

Toronto recently had Tyler Bozak return to the lineup versus the Carolina Hurricanes and Toronto’s face-off percentage was in around the 60% mark for the first time in some time. Not having to rely on—and overplay—Jay McClement for all of your key face-offs makes a big difference in how you deploy your team and it’s one of the positives of having Tyler Bozak back in the lineup. Constantly losing draws, while not the most important aspect of the game, does come into play in key situations and game breaking goals off of key draws. Bozak was 56% on the dot vs Carolina and hopefully a trend we’ll see continue.

Toronto will be starting Jonathan Bernier, who has a sizzling .949 save percentage in his last five games, settling into a groove in the Toronto crease. much as been made about the goaltending tandem the Toronto Maple Leafs employ and how James Reimer is not a favorite of coach Carlyle, and is not getting the starts and chances he deserves. Reimer has been given every chance to succeed, and Bernier, even by the slightest of margins, is showing to be the better of the two (shootouts not included).

Henrik Zetterberg will be a gametime decision, as will Daniel Alfredsson, who is nursing an injury.

2014 Winter Classic: Maple Leafs vs Detroit Red Wings

Toronto Maple Leafs vs the Detroit Red Wings matchup.
 
Toronto Maple Leafs
Detroit Red Wings
Record20-16-518-14-9
GF/G115 (11th)107 (19th)
GA/G118 (20th)117 (19th)
SF/G27.4 (27th)29.9 (15th)
SA/G36.2 (30th)28.7 (15th)
PP22.3% (5th)19.3% (11th)
PK77.5% (27th)84.4% (8th)
5 on 5 F/A1.16 (8th)1.75 (2nd)
Sh%9.71% (5th)8.66% (17th)
Sv%0.923 4th)0.906 (22nd)
FO%47.2% (25th)51.3% (12th)

Toronto Maple Leafs 2014 Winter Classic Lineup

LW C RW
James van Riemsdyk
James van Riemsdyk
Tyler Bozak
Tyler Bozak
Phil Kessel
Phil Kessel
Mason Raymond
Mason Raymond
Nazem Kadri
Nazem Kadri
Joffrey Lupul
Joffrey Lupul
Nikolai Kulemin
Nikolai Kulemin
Jay McClement
Jay McClement
David Clarkson
David Clarkson
Jerry D'Amigo
Jerry D’Amigo
Peter Holland
Peter Holland
Colton Orr
Colton Orr
Defensive Pairings
Carl Gunnarsson
Carl Gunnarsson
Dion Phaneuf
Dion Phaneuf
Cody Franson
Cody Franson
Jake Gardiner
Jake Gardiner
Morgan Rielly
Morgan Rielly
Paul Ranger
Paul Ranger

Detroit Red Wings 2014 Winter Classic Lineup

LW C RW
Henrik Zetterberg
Henrik Zetterberg
Pavel Datsyuk
Pavel Datsyuk
Todd Bertuzzi
Todd Bertuzzi
Justin Abdelkader
Justin Abdelkader
Darren Helm
Darren Helm
Patrick Eaves
Patrick Eaves
Drew Miller
Drew Miller
Joakim Andersson
Joakim Andersson
Tomas Tatar
Tomas Tatar
Gustav Nyquist
Gustav Nyquist
Luke Glendening
Luke Glendening
Danny Cleary
Danny Cleary
Defensive Pairings
Niklas Kronwall
Niklas Kronwall
Dan DeKeyser
Dan DeKeyser
Jakub Kindl
Jakub Kindl
Kyle Quincey
Kyle Quincey
Brendan Smith
Brendan Smith
Brian Lashoff
Brian Lashoff

2014 Winter Classic Live Streaming Video

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Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston is reporting that the Winter Classic is going to come across the border to Toronto in 2017.

The planned location for it would be BMO field, with extensive renovations to outdoor facility taking place. MLSE CEO Tim Leiweke has been in talks with Municipal, Provincial and Federal Officials to make this happen and they all appear on board.

This dovetails nicely into the Maple Leafs 100th anniversary season.

The cost for expanding the woefully small stadium, would be twice it’s $60,000,000 initial build price, said Leiweke.

“It’s big money, huge money,” Said Lewieke

“It fits a lot of needs,” he said. “It renovates it for TFC, it certainly renovates it for the Pan Am Games, it renovates it for rugby. The Grey Cup would be phenomenal in an outdoor setting in Toronto on the lake, but (the Winter Classic is) clearly one of the things we put on the wishlist.”

“The city, the province and the feds have all told us it’s important to them from an economic stimulus standpoint because we see what it’s doing to the economy in Detroit now – imagine what would happen in Toronto.”

More here: http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/24-7/winter-classic-could-be-coming-to-toronto/

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As reported by TSN’s Darren Dreger, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Dion Phaneuf have come to terms on a 7-year contract extension valued at $49-million ($7-million AAV).  This keeps the 28 year old Phaneuf in the fold until the end of the 2020-21 season.  Bob McKenzie is reporting that there is some form of NMC/NTC, which is a typical addendum to UFA-year contracts.  The deal is the second-most expensive contract ever signed by the Maple Leafs (Kessel’s 8-year, $64-million dollar deal signed earlier this season is #1).

The Only Man for the Job

The money should come as no surprise.  Back in October, I wrote that the Leafs would likely spend between 47 and 56 million on a 7-8 year deal for the Captain (between 6.7-7 AAV).  Very simply, the Leafs defense is among the most porous in the league, and Phaneuf is one of the few defenders that can play 25+ minutes a night in three zones.  There’s no one else in the system that can provide what Phaneuf does, and this is the going rate for a defenseman of his pedigree.

Due respect to Morgan Rielly, but even if he is a No. 1 defenseman, it won’t be for at least a few seasons.  The prize UFA defender on the horizon is Dan Girardi, though his availability next summer remains uncertain.  Phaneuf was going to get paid by some team, and Leafs GM Dave Nonis chose to deal with the devil he knew instead of trolling the free agent market for unknowns.

Terms and Conditions

Detractors will point to his meagre and falling point totals since coming to Toronto – he has just 15 points through 39 games this season – as reason for concern.  However, as Elliot Saccucci pointed out the other day, in the world of a rising cap Phaneuf’s dollar figure won’t admit much impediment to building a winner.

His cap number will come in at about 10% of the total cap next season.  That sounds high, but will fall as HRR continues to skyrocket and increase the annual salary cap figures league-wide.  The more legitimate concern should be: just how prudent is it to pay a guy $7-million until he’s 36 years old.

Neon Dion

Phaneuf, selected ninth overall in 2003, has played 261 games for Toronto, recording 35 goals and 92 assists for 126 points over the last 5 NHL seasons.  For his career, he’s tallied 110 goals, 245 assists for 355 points in 639 games.  Since entering the league in 2005-06, Phaneuf ranks sixth in points and third in goals by a defenseman.  Phaneuf has been a finalist for both rookie of the year (2006) and the Norris trophy (2008).

Top Point Producing NHL Defenceman Since 2005-2006

Click on column headings to organize or use the search bar.
Rk
Player
From
To
Tm
GP
G
A
PTS
+/-
PIM
EV
PP
SH
S
S%
1Nicklas Lidstrom20062012DET548913254161732384150013526.7
2Dan Boyle20062014TOT585101291392-154445248114477
3Brian Campbell20062014TOT6276130636741145322909216.6
4Zdeno Chara20062014TOT6341122513631368024168317766.3
5Sergei Gonchar20062014TOT54369293362-234242246111366.1
6Dion Phaneuf20062014TOT638109245354118494761117856.1
7Lubomir Visnovsky20062014TOT54694260354262535539010259.2
8Kimmo Timonen20062014TOT63858293351594082330510595.5
9Duncan Keith20062014CHI647622833451194234215513204.7
10Tomas Kaberle20062013TOT54146293339-40150252109255
11Shea Weber20062014NSH563117195312314395756415097.8
12Brian Rafalski20062011TOT4564925930882172222618305.9
13Andrei Markov20062014MTL4556424330726305194237948.1
14Mark Streit20062014TOT52868236304-55270293729417.2
15Chris Pronger20062012TOT44563235298584922439010096.2
16Jay Bouwmeester20062014TOT6576922729624334722012355.6
17Mike Green20062014WSH46897199296513644650111278.6
18Ryan Suter20062014TOT6304225029241438271419864.3
19Marek Zidlicky20062014TOT57457233290-41502174008946.4
20Dennis Wideman20062014TOT60575210285-543972944212446
21Christian Ehrhoff20062014TOT60964217281684233628012535.1
22John-Michael Liles20062014TOT54867212279-402143235010086.6
23Brent Seabrook20062014CHI639592142731074773820110995.4
24Joe Corvo20062014TOT58279193272191873938213066
25Niklas Kronwall20062014DET5325720926650352312608256.9
26Scott Niedermayer*20062010TOT37160204264-5306213907867.6
27Ryan Whitney20062014TOT48050209259-30381252417057.1
28Bryan McCabe20062011TOT42769189258-3470264309657.2
29Joni Pitkanen20062013TOT46449206255-23440351319045.4

The Scientific Method

For those who look for more than just box cars, some advanced metrics are unearthing a lode of information on Dion Phaneuf’s two-way contrbutions to the Maple Leafs.  One such, THoR (Total Hockey Rating, created by Michael Shuckers and Jim Curro) puts Phaneuf in the top ten among NHL defenders over the last two seasons.  It goes on to suggest that Phaneuf’s contributions over a season add up to almost 4 more wins compared to a league-average player.

More on THoR from http://statsportsconsulting.com: THoR is a two-way player rating that accounts for the all of the on-ice action events when a players is on the ice as well as their linemates, their opponents and where their shift starts.  Each event is assessed a value according to the chance that it leads to a goal.  THoR uses a statistical model to determine the value of each player’s contribution to the overall outcomes that occur while they are on the ice.  The values for THoR in the columns of the files below are given in wins over an average player for an 82 game season.  Count/Number in the files below is the number of plays that a given players was on the ice.

If that doesn’t float your boat, then there are some more traditional fancy stats to consider.  According to Behind the Net, among defenders with at least 20 games played, Phaneuf faces the hardest Relative Corsi quality of competition, the lowest quality of teammates score, while being twice as likely to start a shift in the defensive zone.

Phaneuf is Phaneuf

What we see every night, Phaneuf shouldering the load against increasingly difficult odds, is confirmed in the above numbers.  And it’s no small part as to why he’s been paid $49-million over the next seven years.  His ability to handle those tough and plentiful minutes as time goes by, while also providing above average offense, will determine whether this deal is a great success or failure.  But the money is market value for 2013, and it’s nowhere near the worst deal Nonis has signed a player to in the last 362 days.

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Michigan Stadium (aka: "The Big House" seating chart)

Do you have good tickets to the 2014 Winter Classic? With 107,000+ tickets sold and fuzzy details on where Toronto Maple Leafs fans and Detroit Red Wings fans will be sitting, this chart, courtesy of SBNation shows you where your seats are at Michigan Stadium (The Big House) and where the separations for both fan bases will be. The Maple Leaf fan’s sections are outlined in blue, obviously, and the Red Wings section is in, predictably, red.

Click image below for a link to the full image and a closer look.

Michigan Stadium (aka: "The Big House" seating chart

Michigan Stadium (aka:
2014 Winter Classic Seating Chart at Michigan Stadium / “The Big House”

A bit of a tour on the seating situation at Michigan Stadium / “The Big House”:

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Although the Leafs went 1-2 last week, it really was one of their better weeks of hockey this season. They handily outplayed LA but just weren’t able to bury, and they laid a beating on the first place Hawks. It’s true that St. Louis completely outclassed them, but two pretty dominant games against two of the top five teams in the league is really impressive. The Leafs have to build on that as a positive.

HBO 24/7 Red Wings / Maple Leafs – Road to the NHL Winter Classic – Full Episode #1

In Episode #1 of HBO 24/7 Red Wings / Maple Leafs – Road to the NHL Winter Classic, hockey fans get an inside look to The Original Six Franchise’s dressing room, coaching staff, players, and hockey operations.

Enjoy.

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Brendan Shanahan and the NHL have come down on yet another Maple Leaf; this time for a cheap, blindside hit to St. Louis Blues player, Vladimir Sobotka, by David Clarkson.

Ruling Video

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Phil Kessel vs LA Kings

The Maple Leafs played their best game of the season, but were dealt a taste of their own medicine with a sublime goaltending effort by Martin Jones, ultimately thwarting a plethora of fantastic chances and a game full of uncharacteristic sustained offensive zone time by the Leafs.

1st period

The first minute of the game had the makings of yet another one of those games where Toronto was going to spend way too much time in their own zone (“The Leafs have difficulty getting the puck out of their zone™”).

That quickly changed at the 18 minute mark, with the Rielly/Gardiner pairing moving the puck with efficiency and  in the proper direction.

The initial fears of the game going the way of L.A. domination were scuttled at around the 16:50 mark; Lupul’s first touch was a scoring chance for Kulemin off the rush and should have been buried but for a fantastic save.

Come the five minute mark of the first, the shots were 5-3 Toronto. LA’s slow defense was having to hurry pucks on the breakout, and Toronto seemed more committed to a fast forecheck. If not physical, they were putting a lot of pressure on the Kings, who were being made to look like, well, the Leafs on any given night this season.

The penalty kill still continues to plague the Leafs game, and sunk them early. Despite taking the play to the slower LA Kings team, this was their chance to set up, control the play and get their 1-0 marker, which as an elite team they proceeded to do.

Despite the score, the shots were 9-4 Toronto late in the first.

One of the habits creeping into the Leafs’ heads more and more: their inability to close out periods and games. Inexplicably, the last minute and a half the Leafs were hemmed in and looked like they would concede another goal.

2nd period

The Leafs got off to a nice start to the 2nd period.

Toronto’s defence was pinching and activating on the rush regularly, and it was giving the Leafs a chance to show off their speed more than they have this season. The D pinching down the wall was giving the Leafs more zone time than as long as I can remember, as reflected in the shot and shot attempt count (as close to a proxy for possession as we have). The Rielly/Gardiner pairing got regular shifts with the Kessel-Kadri-JVR, and they were fantastic in every area of the ice. They held the zone well, made great tape-to-tape saucer passes, pinched with great timing and, of course, lugged the puck as you would expect; lots of clean zone exits,  zone entries, and controlled set ups in the offensive zone.

With Phaneuf  injured, it’s forced Carlyle to do things he never tries, which is having Gardiner/Rielly on PP#1 and  Gardiner/Franson on PP#2. The puck carrying duties went  to Gardiner on the breakout and the Leafs achieved easy zone entries by not having, without fail, Phaneuf and Franson on the same PP unit. The dynamic duo are able to pinch with efficiency and still have the skating ability to get back into position on time.

As the 2nd period was winding down, it was apparent that this was the longest stretch of good hockey  Toronto has sustained this season.

The Leafs finally evened the game on a 5 on 3 powerplay. It was Gardiner/Franson again, with Leafs  getting a flurry of great chances. More great play from the Leafs in front of the net drew a penalty. On the ensuing 5 on 3, Frason scored on a beautiful switch with Kessel on the powerplay. Franson and Gardiner finally called the audible and switched sides (which Carlyle seems to coach them not to do),  opening up two one-time point shots.

The Kings were previously a perfect 8 for 8 on 5 on 3s, but that changed tonight. The small victories, right?

That was a hell of a 2nd period for Toronto.

3rd period

The Leafs were exposing the LA Kings lack of speed; worth noting the Kings were in the 2nd leg of a back-to-back on the road.

A note I made before the game: I was hoping that the addition of Lupul would open up the lines a bit for Toronto and allow Lupul to avoid some coverage, and for the Leafs to roll two lines properly. He looked like the Lupul of old and had a number of great chances tonight; he was hard on the puck and drove the net with reckless abandon. It makes the Leafs a tougher team to play against.

The pinching was a bonus for the Leafs tonight, but it has also cost them with the go-ahead goal by Jeff Carter. A pinch from Ranger resulted in a 2 on 1. Fraser was in a tough spot; he can play it like a 2-on-1 and take the pass away, which he does for the most part, or take the shooter with Ranger closing in on the pass option. He correctly elected for the latter and Carter got off a sneaky hard shot through Bernier’s legs to make it 2-1 Kings. That’s a game breaker goal that Bernier has to save and he didn’t. This was a decidedly average performance from Bernier;  he needed to be better tonight. You wonder if starting Reimer against a team that doesn’t have the book on the goalie (like LA did) might have been the better decision.

Once again evident in the period, Gardiner and Rielly were dynamic tonight. Where they usually are a high-risk/reward combination, they were all reward tonight and moved the puck up the ice with skill and speed, making plays that are both exciting and effective. They beat LA’s heavy forecheck, as puck-moving defenseman are wont to do, when they play the game at a high speed.

There was a surefire holding penalty on the JVR rush missed by the refs late in this period. It was a free-hand hold, which is usually a call on every.single.play in every.single.nhl.game. While my tinfoil hat is currently at the dry cleaners, the calls against the Leafs this year are, quite frankly, staggering. I’ve never seen officiating as poor in the NHL in my decades of watching hockey. Perhaps coming out of the 2005 lockout when new rules were implemented, but that’s not saying much.

JVR blew by Regehr, but Regehr impeded JvR’s progress with the loose arm. That’s called holding.

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Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 10.54.10 PM

Shortly thereafter, Kadri got cross checked and absolutely filled in from behind by Voynov without the puck.

Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 10.54.51 PM

Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 10.54.52 PM

Alas, Kyle Clifford came back the other way and scored. Insert dagger here. Game over.

 

Leafs/Kings Shot Location Data

Leafs/Kings Shot Location Data

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Toronto welcomed the HBO crew with a 3-2 overtime victory at the Air Canada Centre.  They came out with the appropriate amount of desperation and effort for a team that has been stumbling significantly.

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Phil Kessel and Tyler Seguin Shake Hands

The Leafs dropped their first December contest to extend the losing streak to five games, and six of the last seven. San Jose hurled 41 shots on the net and James Reimer was pretty good yet again, but it was another game where a poor first period meant that the Leafs were playing catchup all night.

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Gary Bettman

How will it happen & what does it mean for the Toronto Maple Leafs?

A. Background

In a memo released in September of this year, the Chief Operating Officer of the NHL notified all league employees of initiatives and staff changes to take effect during the 2013-2014 season. In the memo the league identified a plan to increase annual gross national revenue by $1 billion dollars by the end of three years, or in other words, in time for the 2016-2017 season. To put that type of increase in perspective, it had previously taken the league from 2005-06 to 2011-12 – or 6 years – to attain the same revenue growth. Forget linear growth, we’re talking exponential revenue growth here, folks.

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Luciano Pavarotti “Nessun Dorma”, Hockey Night in Canada Opening

“Nessun Dorma” by Luciano Pavarotti opens the game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens, the forever rivals, on Hockey Night In Canada on November 30th, 2013.