The Maple Leafs lose their 13th consecutive to the Canadiens, Mitch Marner’s brilliant three-point performance, Mike Babcock condemns the bye week, Frederik Andersen on pace for 69 starts, the Marlies make it two wins in a row, and more in the links.
Leafs’ experienced rookies spearhead paradoxical pursuit of playoff spot (National Post)
“Early in the season and throughout the last while, these young guys are being put in big situations,” veteran Leafs winger Matt Martin said. “We’ve given up leads and what-not, but they’re put there to learn and grow. In the first half of the year, they’ve had plenty of opportunities to do that. “As the season progresses, things get tighter in the standings, it becomes harder and harder to score goals. Teams are all fighting for playoff spots. It’s only going to get tougher from here, but I think we have a lot of mature young players who have what it takes to win.”
Mirtle: The Maple Leafs can’t afford to burn out Frederik Andersen (The Athletic)
The Leafs have to be careful here. NHL teams have moved away from loading goalies up with an incredible number of starts, likely realizing the effect it can have on performance. Only seven goalies have started 69 or more games in a season in the last five full seasons, a group of solid veteran ‘tenders: Price, Jonathan Quick, Braden Holtby, Pekka Rinne, Miikka Kiprusoff, Jonas Hiller and Cam Ward. None of them posted a save percentage above .923 with that kind of workload.
Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock bothered by long break (Toronto Sun)
“If I’m a player safety guy, I think it’s 100% wrong,” Babcock said of the looming hiatus. “It doesn’t make any sense for me. You have so many games in a short period of time and (after the break) you are jamming in more. To me, the more days rest you have by not playing back to backs and jamming them in, the healthier you have a chance to be.”
Maple Leafs still can’t figure out how to beat Canadiens (Toronto Sun)
Montreal scored early and often, getting to the usually Steady Freddy five times on 31 shots. The Leafs put three past Carey Price, tied for the most they’ve managed on the Habs all-world stopper in the past seven games, but still haven’t won any of them (0-6-1). Coupled with Boston thumping Florida, it knocked the Leafs out of a playoff berth and they’ll have to sit there until next Friday in New York, thanks to the newly created bye week in the NHL schedule.
Maple Leafs recall Enroth, send down Bibeau (Hamilton Spectator)
With the bye week getting underway, Antoine Bibeau has been sent down for some playing time with the Marlies and is expected to start Sunday afternoon. Bibeau owns a 7-7-2 record, a 2.46 GAA and a .908 save percentage in 16 games with the Marlies this season. In two appearances with the Maple Leafs, he has earned a win and a loss with a 1.99 GAA and a .927 save percentage.
2017 World Juniors Wrap: Player-by-player Reviews (The United States of Hockey)
Everyone knew about the skill level of Jeremy Bracco and he brought it in spades for Team USA. His excellent playmaking skills, where he combines his excellent on-ice vision with superb distribution abilities were fully on display. But he also showed off some keen finishing ability. He scored three goals in the tournament, but his biggest goal won’t go on his stat sheet. In the semifinal, Bracco had to score or the U.S. would have fallen to Russia in the shootout. The confidence he showed and the release he dropped on Ilya Samsonov was something special. Troy Terry deservedly gets a lot of credit for scoring three in that shootout, but it was Bracco who set up his chance to play hero.
Game #33 Review: Toronto Marlies 5 vs. Rochester Americans 0 (MLHS)
Only time will tell if this win will prove to be a turning point in the Toronto Marlies season. In what was arguably their best home performance of 2016-17 so far, the Marlies recorded their largest margin of victory in a 5-0 thumping of Rochester.
Hockey legends enjoy legendary night (NHL.com)
Now these five hockey icons were preparing to walk down the hallway with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman to a dinner being held in their honor, and that of 28 more of the League’s greatest players of all time. “I’ve had two NHL presidents call me at home my whole life,” Leonard “Red” Kelly told his host. “Clarence Campbell, and now you.” “I assume,” Commissioner Bettman replied with a chuckle, “that you were in trouble when Clarence called you?” Kelly nodded, to the laughter of everyone.