Archive for category Hockey

47/82 of What We’ll Know: We Suck Again

Well, they are who we thought they were. At first we were over-optimistic, then extremely pessimistic, then guardedly optimistic, and now it’s back to realistically pessimistic.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are not a good hockey team.

We knew this, ignored it, and paid the price of missing expectations. Playoffs, while a nice goal, was not a realistic jump-off point for a team in Year One Point Five of a complete rebuilding.
More after the jump!

26/82 of What We’ll Know: Assymptotic to the Playoffs and Some Love for Matt Stajan

December is here just as quickly as November went (obviously?), and not without some all-too-familiar Maple Leaf sentiments. The Leafs are still in second last place in the NHL, still struggling to decide what is to become of overpriced veterans and/or underutilized youngsters, and still trying to keep one goalie healthy long enough to determine the least awfulbest starter.

That said, November was a much better month than October, both in terms of on-ice performance and reasons to be optimistic for the next four or five months of frozen agony. October brought a 1-7-4 record, November brought a 5-5-3 record, and the team sits at an uninspiring 6-12-7 overall (36.5% of possible points). Still, because of the NHL’s moronic insistence on rewarding teams for losing in overtime, the Leafs sit just seven points out of a playoff spot in the East. Don’t get it twisted, this is probably not a playoff team, but the realities of Bettman’s Hockey Funhouse are that teams can be pinned-to-the-bottom-in-cement-shoes for a long time and still float to the playoffs make a playoff run (see: St. Louis Blues, 2008-09).
More after the jump!

T-Mac’s Top 10: Sexiest Hockey Players

It’s no secret that hockey players are some of the best looking athletes on the planet (Editor’s Note: This is an extremely well kept secret to the male population). They’ve got the body, the grit, the attitude…oh, and did I mention the body? The question is how do you narrow it down and pick the cream de la crème of the NHL?<

To sort out all of the eye candy the league has to offer, I came up with a rating system and a list of criteria in an effort to separate one hottie from the next. Each player can earn a total of five +/- points per category in each Performance, Physique, and Swagger, for a combined maximum total of +15 points.

I present to you, the Top 10 Sexiest Hockey Players in the NHL for the 2009-2010 season.
More after the jump!

18/82 of What We’ll Know: Shifting the November Focus, and a Live Kadri Scouting Report

Since I last wrote, the Leafs have railed off three straight losses. I’m not sure why I’m surprised; perhaps, my concluding paragraphs last Tuesday were too optimistic, too hope-inspiring, effectively turning on the Blue-blinders that we as Leaf fans all too often adorn.

Upon closer reflection, it was the month as a whole that I was optimistic about, beginning with a “momentum” game against the Wild. The Leafs faltered badly, and followed up with a “measuring stick” type of loss to the Blackhawks and a “shoot me now” type of loss to the Flames. That is, the Leafs hung in there with a better Chicago team, but followed it up with a loss to Calgary despite severely outplaying them. This type of stomach-punch loss has been commonplace for Toronto this season, though this particular 40-22 shot advantage in a 5-2 loss was excruciating.

With last week’s intense face-slap now behind us, the Leafs sit at 3-10-5 and four points out of 28th in the league. While November could still be a promising month (Carolina is a must-win on Thursday, though), it might be time to shift our collective focus just a little bit, and appreciate a few smaller points to get over last week’s disaster.
More after the jump!

15/82 of What We’ll Know: 28th With a Bullet

Idle hands are the devil’s playground, so they say. I guess, then, it’s good that I’ve been a little too busy (and under the weather) to write much in the way of coherent sports analysis the past few weeks. I say that, of course, because if I had wrote the latest Leafs’ update at the following times, the titles probably would have looked something like this:

October 25 (0-7-1) 8/82 of What We’ll Know: I Shouldn’t Have Come Back to Hockey Fanhood
October 27 (1-7-1) 9/82 of What We’ll Know: Holy F’N S! OMG They Won! ROFL BAHAHA I’ve Lost IT! GO LEAFS WHOOOO!
November 4th (1-7-5) 13/82 of What We’ll Know: As Much as I Hate a Point for an OT Loss, It Is Saving Toronto

As it is, today (3-7-5) the title is as above. Things are looking just a little bit brighter and more promising than a week or two weeks or three weeks ago. The Leafs have a few wins, haven’t lost in regulation in seven games (Is this worth boasting about? Yes.), and now sit tied for 28th in the NHL, with a chance to claim sole possession of 27th with a win tonight against the almost-as-lowly Minnesota Wild.

So what have we learned through 15/82 (18.3%) of the season?
More after the jump!

Toronto Maple Leafs Aren’t as Bad as You Think

This article has been submitted by the debuting Matt Rego…I didn’t have time to set him up as an author so for today he appears to be me. I wish! Welcome, Regg Ross.

We are just about three weeks into the season and our most beloved, and also most hated, NHL hockey franchise are winless in their first seven games of the season. Every hockey analyst has Toronto as the 30th ranked team in the league, and at 0-6-1 it is difficult to argue.

By going 6-3 in the preseason Toronto led the Eastern Conference with 12 points…mind you, that was the preseason. Leafs fans had reason to be optimistic heading into the regular season, as this team was exciting, fast, tough, and, despite Vesa Toskala’s best efforts, kept the puck out of the net. Now the big question: What changed between then and now?
More after the jump!

Five for Fighting: Leafs Goaltending, Leafs Youngsters, What Laraques is Cookin, and NHL Rule Changes

Toronto Maple Leafs and the Goaltending Carousel
The Leafs’ goaltending situation is getting ridiculous, already. Obviously, nobody is happy with Vesa Toskala between the pipes. This has been the case all offseason as people clamored for Jonas Gustafsson and Joey MacDonald to be the team’s one-two punch in net, and after an extremely shaky start (4 games, .810 SV%, 5.57 GAA), an “injury” has put Toskala on the shelf for a couple weeks.

I put quotations around injury because a large part of the problem with Vesa is clearly mental, so this may be an early-season vacation more than anything. He spent his summer hearing the sport’s largest media market rip him to shreds, and he’s been booed on several occasions already. His playing style isn’t conducive to a lack of confidence, as his size is not such that he can afford to cower in his crease or look around defenders. Instead, he is bested suited to be aggressive, something he has not shown the willingness, confidence, or ability to do thus far.

I was a Toskala supporter in the offseason, but at the same time, Brian Burke spent a big chunk of energy and money chasing The Monster, and it doesn’t make sense to have him sitting on the bench while the starter struggles. If not for his own groin problems, the situation would be pretty clear – let Gustafsson sink or swim while Toskala heals up.

Instead, Joey Mac got the call (with James Reimer backing up in an emergency) against Colorado. It was ugly, and mostly unlucky, but he didn’t exactly solidify his roster spot when all parties are healthy, either.
More after the jump!

1/82: What We Know About the Leafs

This title, which will be a running one for Leafs coverage here, assumes that knowledge is evenly distributed across 82 regular season games. This is not reality, of course, as we know plenty from previous seasons, the offseason, the preseason, and other “hockey insider” cues. Still, there are but 82 games that count, unless you are of an elite 16, so it is really only the truths these 82 games reveal to us that matter. Thus, after one night of NHL hockey, we know but 1/82 of what we will know about the Toronto Maple Leafs come season’s end.

1/82, or 1.2195%, is an awfully small glimpse of the overall picture. Still, if we are to take opening night lessons to be of any greater importance than a 47th-game’s lessons (and we all sure treated Game 1 that way), then we have some positive and negative things to look forward to when it comes to this year’s incarnation of the White and Blue.

The Leafs fell 4-3 in overtime to the Montreal Canadiens last night, an outcome that is surely disappointing and not necessarily deserved. The Leafs outplayed the Canadiens throughout the night; they won battles for loose pucks, controlled the time of attack, out-shot Montreal by a wild margin, and looked physically superior to the small-but-quick Habs. Still, records are all that matter and good efforts are essentially for naught, so the Leafs must take the OT loss for what it is – a single point, a disappointment, and an early building block for a team that is still carving out an identity together.
More after the jump!

Please Welcome Me Back to NHL Fanhood

Alexander Ovechkin Pictures, Images and PhotosHockey…I’m back. No, seriously this time, I mean it. I’m back again…for the very first time.

Allow me to take you back to give you a better grasp of just how grandiose a statement this is. And it is, trust.

As a kid, I was 100% hockey all the time. And I don’t mean just for sports – for everything. I did nothing but play hockey, road hockey, and hockey on Sega, I re-enacted games, watched every Saturday night, and talked about nothing but hockey. Hell, I honestly learned how to do math as a kid from crunching hockey stats.

From birth right up until about 17, I was nothing but hockey, all the time. High-school kind of opened my eyes to more sports, but I still primarily played hockey and watched hockey. At 17 or 18, basketball and baseball became pretty obvious interests, but hockey was still held above all else.

I was, basically, a normal Canadian when it came to sports.
More after the jump!

NHL Offseason Headlines

With all of the attention the National Hockey League has earned during the offseason, it can only be regarded as nothing short of a public relations’ dream. Has it been good publicity? No. Not entirely. But as most PR personnel would suggest, any news is good news.

In direct competition with the National Football League (NFL), National Basketball League (NBA), and even NASCAR and different soccer leagues, the NHL could use all of the publicity it can get. Other top dog leagues consistently sell out games not simply for the majority of their teams, as in the NHL, but for each and every one of their franchise clubs.
More after the jump!