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Category: Toronto-Maple-Leafs

Toronto Is A Different Team This Season

from Travis Yost of TSN,

Could this be the year for the Toronto Maple Leafs?

That’s not something I have written during my tenure at TSN because for as long as the new-era Maple Leafs have existed, there has always been a fundamental flaw. Unreliable goaltending, a porous blueline, star players going quiet during pivotal stretches – the organization and fans have seen it all.

There is no doubt that Toronto is one of a handful of teams in this year’s Stanley Cup race. Most sportsbooks see five genuine favorites – Toronto joined by the Colorado Avalanche, Tampa Bay Lightning, Vegas Golden Knights, and Florida Panthers, with plenty more competition within the Eastern Conference.

But this year feels a bit different.

One of the things I’ve been paying attention to in recent years is what I’ll call Players Above Break-Even, or the percentage of rostered players carrying expected goal rates north of 50 per cent. It’s a simple but an effective approach for analyzing full roster performance; it simultaneously captures the ability of top-end players to dominate their opponents, and weeds out top-heavy teams that generally struggle in the postseason against better competition.

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A Blown Lead For The Toronto Maple Leafs

from Luke Fox of Sportsnet,

The Toronto Maple Leafs have gained and then squandered a 3-1 lead in four of their past five games — but this one hits different.

This one was devoid of a positive post-game spin or excuses about travel or fans or missing bodies.

This one was about a good team losing its structure and its determination, its guts and its goaltending.

“This one should bother us greatly. Because how we played wasn’t nearly good enough,” said coach Sheldon Keefe, after watching a 3-1 lead disintegrate into a 6-3 loss to the New York Rangers on Wednesday.

“I just thought we got exposed today for being a team that was just soft. Soft and purposeless and just kind of playing the game and just hoping it was gonna work out.”

Mitch Marner admitted that Toronto took its foot off the gas after flying through the first 20 minutes. After two practice days devoted to protecting their net-front and managing leads by establishing a forecheck, the Leafs deviated from the game plan and tried to make the pretty play.

“It’s like we get these leads, and then go into the second thinking it’s going to be just an easy rest of 40 minutes,” Marner said. “And everything’s coming to bite us in the butt.”

continued

Game highlights are below.

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Getting Auston Matthews Home

from Craig Morgan of Go PHNX,

If you are from Toronto and you just read that headline, you either laughed out loud or you suffered a panic attack. Those are the endpoints on the Maple Leafs fan spectrum, a truth that I discovered all too well when I conducted the most innocuous of Q&As with Matthews 2½ years ago, only to have Leafs nation implode.

I heard it on talk shows, I heard it on podcasts and I read it in print. Those who weren’t busy trashing or dismissing the Coyotes franchise for its myriad missteps over the years were genuinely concerned that Matthews had only signed a five-year extension with the Leafs earlier that year because his goal was to come home and wear the jersey of the team for which he grew up rooting; the jersey that his idols Danny Brière and Shane Doan had worn.

For the fearful, all roads led back to the same place.

Matthews would win a Cup or two in Toronto and then realize that he had nothing left to prove so he would return to his home state.

Matthews would not win a Cup with the Leafs and become so sick of Toronto’s suffocating fan support and withering media coverage that he would jump ship for his quiet, happy place.

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, d, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Plan The Parade In Toronto

from Stan Fischler at The Hockey News,

I now go on record telling you that Toronto will win The Stanley Cup next spring. Like Imlach's Leafs, they haven't even zoomed into their highest gear. But that will happen at the turn of a calendar. And, no, they don't miss Zach Hyman.

Naturally, others -- especially the "Show Me" cynics -- will disagree and, for that reason, I hereby open a very-mini town hall on the subject. I want to hear what some "Non-Insiders" think.

My un-scientific survey is based on pure thought -- and no analytics, if you please. Call it "Off-The-Top-Of-Your-Head" stuff. But it's fun and nobody's feelings are hurt except, perhaps, the figure-filberts of Analytics Land.

My "experts" simply are smart hockey-watchers with absolutely no axes, swords nor bayonets to grind.

more

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Video- Jason Spezza Suspended Six Games

Kneeing

 

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Video- Wayne Simmonds Fined and A Hearing Today For Neal Pionk

 

If you missed it last night, watch the Pionk hit below.

added 11:39am,

 

The Spezza incident is in the video below too.

Continue Reading »

Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, Winnipeg Jets, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Videos- Tempers Flare Toronto/Winnipeg

via Sportsnet's YouTube page,

A sequence of plays that starts with Neal Pionk kneeing Rasmus Sandin, Jason Spezza then retaliates and a scrum ensues on the following faceoff.

Two more incidents below.

 

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The Leafs Know It Is All About The Playoffs

from Lance Horby of the Toronto Sun,

They currently reside in the most exclusive neighbourhood of Canada’s NHL teams, high enough on the hill to see the tire fires in Montreal, Ottawa and Vancouver.

But until the Maple Leafs actually get back to playoffs and win a round or two, they know they’re still in a glass house. Unless it’s reinforced, best not to throw stones at the less fortunate.

From Sheldon Keefe to Jack Campbell to Carlton the Bear (if he could speak) expect a batch of banal quotes about the heady times in November. Even if Toronto could boast a team record calendar month of 12 wins, tying a club mark with seven straight road victories and owning a piece of first overall to start this week.

“We had good stretches last season … that’s why it’s important to just focus on one day at a time and find consistency,” Keefe said before the Leafs spent Monday flying home from California. “That’s what we’ve talked about since Day 1. It has been a great November, (but) the calendar is going to turn here. We’ll get back home after a long trip and have a really good team waiting for us (Colorado on Wednesday).”

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A 4-0 Road Trip For The Toronto Maple Leafs

from Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun,

With Sunday’s 5-1 win in Anaheim, they’ve not only swept three games in California, but all four on a trip that began a week earlier in Long Island.

They’ve now tied the franchise record with seven consecutive away victories.

“It’s a blast,” said goaltender Jack Campbell, who despite the lopsided score was needed to be clutch again in a mid-third period rally by the Ducks.

“Whether it’s home or on the road, everybody’s ready to go and it takes everybody to beat some of these great teams.

“We’re working hard and executing and we have to keep it going.”

The net result is sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Division, two points up on the idle Florida Panthers and tied for the NHL lead with Washington with 33 points. After a stumble in mid-October, including losses in their first three road tests, the Leafs extended the club record for most overall wins in a calendar month to 12, a nice 36th birthday present for general manager Kyle Dubas on Monday.

continued

Game highlights are below.

Continue Reading »

Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Did The Leafs Make A Mistake By Signing Petr Mrazek?

from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,

The Maple Leafs are paying now — and might be paying later — for the foolish reach they made on signing Petr Mrazek for three years and $11.4 million in the off-season.

Really, they should have known better. They should have done more homework on the goaltender. They should have understood why Carolina didn’t want him back, which was for similar reasons the Leafs soured on Frederik Andersen.

Behind closed doors, Leafs management complained about Andersen’s health, about his willingness to play and inability to battle through injuries, perceived or otherwise.

That lack of dependability in management’s mind, not to mention the dollars involved, ended Andersen’s time in Toronto. The same lack of dependability ended Mrazek’s time with the Hurricanes.

Mrazek is not unlike a lot of modern-day athletes. He needs to be almost perfect physically to be able to play. He isn’t delicate, but he’s close to that. That was the book on him in Carolina. He’s not a Grant Fuhr, who would pop his shoulder in and out on a daily basis, knowing he had to do that just to be able to play the following day.

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About Kukla's Korner Hockey

Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com

 

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