November 01, 2010


"Hockey is a man's game. The team with the most real men wins."
- Brian Burke

I'm quite certain that's not the case. The team that scores the most goals usually wins.

The honeymoon's over. They said the Toronto Maple Leafs would struggle to score goals. They were right.

It's not all bad news, though. Five wins in October is a whole lot better than one. And while the power play is languishing at 11.9%, the Leafs are killing 84.8% of their penalties. I'd wager that's the most successful they've ever been in that endeavor since Ron Wilson took over behind the bench. And, yes, both J.S. Giguere's .910 and Jonas Gustavsson's .920 save percentages have a lot to do with said success. I don't know about you, but I'd much rather the Leafs struggle on the power play than play shorthanded as if they're a beer league squad. Lord knows they can't be effective at both aspects of special teams.

Both keepers have been solid. Jiggy's .912 save percentage (31 saves on 34 shots) when the Leafs are a man short -- the anti-Toskala -- is exactly the type of goaltending the Leafs need. It must continue. Monster's .932 save percentage five-on-five is making me believe he just might be the next one.

But, yeah, the offence. I'm not worried. I probably should be, but I'm not. As long as Tim Brent and Colton Orr have more goals -- two -- than Nikolai Kulemin (one), Kris Versteeg (one), Tyler Bozak (one), and Mikhail Grabovski (zero), the Maple Leafs will continue to lose. But let's get real. Brent and Orr won't outscore those guys for long, no matter the NHL's policy on goaltender interference.

Ottawa's in town on Tuesday. I can't imagine a better night for a few of Burke's good men to break out of their respective slumps.

Reuters image, via daylife.


kushnir said...

going to the game on tues.

Prediction: leafs score goals.... lots of them

6-1 leafs final, kessel with one, verteeg with one, kuli with a hatty.

one can dream, no?

blurr1974 said... write about hockey too? I thought this was a baseball blog...

I'm sure I'm in the minority, but after such epic craptitude (is that a word...?) of the past few seasons, last especially, I'm thoroughly enjoying this season. Even with a scoring slump, I'm not sweating it.

I guess that's what it's like to have seen the bottom of the barrel.

Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

@ kushnir: One can only dream in this town. Enjoy yourself tomorrow.

@ blurr: This is a Toronto sports blog. Which only means I'm drunk most of the time. As for the scoring slump you mentioned, it's a lot easier to deal with after a four-and-oh start. It's only a matter of time before Kulemin, Versteeg and Grabbo get going. Some more goals from the blue line would be nice, too. And a wise cat once said: when you're at the bottom (of the barrel), there's no place left to go but up.

Mattt said...

They're due to break out of this slump. Some kind of trade will happen at some point this season to get a much needed offensive weapon. Until then as long as the Leafs can hover around .500 the dream of playoff hockey in Toronto is alive and well.

Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

@ Mattt: The dream of playoff hockey never dies, whether they're playing .500 or not. And as for that trade, I'm hoping it involves one Brad Richards.