Loose-Leafs #1: Down 4 Regulars, Crap Defense Play = #1 in the East. Say What?

Discussion in 'Toronto Maple Leafs' started by Daisy Jane, Oct 13, 2013.

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  1. Daisy Jane

    Daisy Jane everything is gonna be okay!

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    Loose-Leafs

    Okay, let's get started - the Loose-Leafs for the past two weeks (I wanted to do one last week, but we only had three games played at that point so there wasn't really anything to talk about). First of all, something that is being lost with all the "oh looks, the Leafs are playing really not so good defensive hockey, look how lucky they are." comments - this is the best start the franchise has had in twenty years.

    Let's just stop and think about that one for a moment.

    Everyone can acknowledge that
    A: the Leafs have not played 60 minutes of complete hockey yet this season
    B: the Defensive play of the entire team is a lot to be desired.
    C: We're missing 4 key parts of our lineup (as of today, we are the youngest team in the NHL).

    Best start in 20 years.

    Reaction by everyone, including some Leaf Fans:

    1: saying "Oh, it's only October." (well, 2 points in October is 2 points in April)
    2: they are playing weak teams. (and the point? those are teams we need to be beating)
    3: they only have good goaltending so far OR their offense is helping them out.
    4: Oh - they are lucky to have won.


    that's the one that gets my goat the most. "the Leafs should be lucky, that they won." then if it was another team - it becomes "well you have to be good to be lucky, and lucky to be good." or another favourite cliche "you have to win the games that you should have lost."

    Taking this back to last year, when we were all divided about who we wanted to play (Montreal or Boston), and those who wanted Boston was like we'd learn so much more. Then Game 7 happened, and even through the summer, I (and some few others) were saying - that's going to be the fire that burns the Leafs butts all year round.

    And we're seeing it now (kinda). the quiet confidence of - "okay fine, we're down by X amount of goals, whatever, we're going to tie it up, and then we're going to win. The end." We did it against Ottawa (Bernier being a star) and we did it against Edmonton (Bernier not being a star). The only lead we've blown was the :avs game.

    Reimer said it best (Daisy Paraphase): "I wasn't too worried, because I know the boys would come back, I just feel bad that I put them in that situation." #classyguy

    We could be a lot of different under .500 variables, but I think the fact that we aren't speaks a lot about the character of the club. So, good on you boys.



    Stats so Far


    our
    G/G is 3.67 (4th)
    GA/G is 2.50 (10th)
    5-5 F/A is 1.08
    PP 29.2% (6th)
    PK 90.9% (2nd)

    then we get into the Shots per and Shots against
    30.8 (for) and 34.2 (Against)

    that's not very bad at all, I think.

    the one that is bothering me is the faceoff percentage: 45.7%

    If you look at our stats so far - they are pretty good for the most part. We've never had a lead in the first period at all this season. (Kind of funny - that's where we did most of our damage last year), this year, we're lowering the boom and doing it all in the third period. The only team that is lower than us in the top 10 is Calgary (at 44 percent). Colorado hasn't hit 50 yet but they're practically there at 49.4.

    [​IMG]

    in 6 games Bozak has already taken 156 faceoffs and is at 49.4 percent [leading the League there]. but the next leaf is Bolland at 44%. In the past three games we've not even hit 40 percent in a game.

    [​IMG]

    I am actually surprised that Bozak's FO percentage was that high, because it really looked like he (and the entire team were being decimated on the dot). I've been saying lately I wonder if it is Bozak's arm (he had a separated tricep during the playoffs) that's affecting his strength/ability to be as consistent on the draw because I can't really ever remember him being owned time and again by like everyone. (Patrice Bergeron yes, but he owns almost everyone in the faceoff dot).

    If the Playoffs were Today

    Per usual, we've played more games than anyone else in our division minus Buffalo. so it's not "quite" accurate, however, it's never too late to play this little game. it would be

    :leafs, :bruins, :habs as the guaranteed three seeds (look! just like last year!) and then :wings & :bolts as the wildcard. (we have a 4 point cushion on Bruins/Habs/Wings/Tampa as they are all tied at 6 points with respective games in hands etc and nonsense like that).


    We have Nice Things. Be Happy

    Isn't it nice when we have nice things?

    [​IMG]

    No matter how you slice it - crap game or fantastic game we've got some solid, secure goaltending back there. They are giving us the chance to win. I like it!

    [​IMG]

    this guy is looking pretty solid here. At this point I will be more surprised if he gets sent down than if he doesn't. I truly think that the Leafs are going to burn a year off the ELC.

    [​IMG]

    he with the green mouth guard. JVR truly looks like he is ready to explode. He had one off game (just standing there waiting for the magic to happen), but then the past few games, it's like he had a switch go on in his mind that went "right, I have to MOVE to make the magic happen." big year for our Big James.

    so. let's just be happy that we've got all these pieces, and instead of trading everything away let's be all ooooo.. they are OURS! :laugh:


    Player of the Week

    [​IMG]

    You could argue Bernier (well no you would really have a point there, Bernier has been a star), or Lupul or JVR - but I honestly think that Bolland in his very quiet "don't worry, I've got this." mannerism has quietly stolen the show. The storylines in Toronto has been

    1. Gardiner may/may not be traded
    2. Carlyle may or may not hate Gardiner
    3. Kadri in the doghouse
    4. Everyone hates Carlyle
    5. Bozak is a bum
    6. Ranger is a bum
    7. Leafs can't play defense
    8. Bernier is very good

    But even with the whole "Isn't he a little bit like Dougie?" love-in from Cherry, Bolland's first three goals of the club have all been game winners. (well Game tying, and THEN game winner, game winner). He's on the ice in the last few minutes of play in every game, he's on the ice during overtime (mind blown there). and he's just quietly leading the team through this stretch.

    Just. awesome.

    Next Week

    We have three games on the schedule

    Tuesday against - :wild (sportsnet - find a stream, I don't think it's a national game)
    Thursday against -:canes (Leafstv - find a stream)
    Saturday against :hawks (road game and obviously on CBC)

    I think when everyone comes back (Kulemin, Clarkson, Fraser, McLaren) you are going to see a lot more of "our game" finishing checks, more blocked shots, the whole kitenkaboodle. The scary thing - and something I think we all need to acknowledge and recognize: the TEAM knows they aren't doing well - they KNOW they can do so much better and they've got the confidence that they can pull their butts out of the fire until they can get there. So what happens when they DO get there?


    But seriously - the teams motto this year (I saw it on CBC) is Attack as a Team. Which makes perfect sense because this team is all about live by the sword/die by the sword in so much of their play, defense, offense, whatever. I believe in this team and I think we're going to be seeing many a wonderful thing from them overall.

    (go figure, we're all about Keep Calm & Corsi's Wrong, but the last three games, we've had better Corsi. Naturally).


    See ya next week!
     
  2. Pi

    Pi Registered User

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    I love you Daisy :laugh:

    Great post.
     
  3. Leafs Forever

    Leafs Forever Registered User

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    Good read. :handclap:

    Also, best start in 20 years...which is the best start since the 93/94 team that made it to the conference finals :yo: (though that team won 10 in a row to start)
     
  4. likeabosski

    likeabosski Registered User

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    The Leafs rank 25th in the NHL in Corsi For % (the data that I looked at may not have been updated to include the game last night though). The weakness at the face-off circle does not help with possession. Their goaltending and shooting % aren't even close to top of the league either though. The Leafs are top of the table methinks because they have won some close games. Their goal differential is not exactly stellar.

    The Leafs are lucky. Don't be surprised if they blow it by the end of the 82 game sample size and miss the playoffs. But I wouldn't be surprised if the possession metrics go up. It's too early to tell how things are going to stabilize. Because even Corsi, though to a much lesser extent, is subject to sample size issues. The top possession team in the NHL has like 60+% CF%, which is unsustainable. And some teams have like 41%. Which is very low. But the Leafs thus far don't seem as reliant on luck this year as they were last year. Their possession has went from 30th to 25th. Though this is a small sample size even for Corsi stats I think. And their shooting % actually went down significantly (I told you the Leafs shooting wasn't as good as people think it is). Their goaltending situation improved with Bernier (let's see if he keeps that up. James Reimer did have the better save % over a larger career sample size). But yeah I think it's the close games that are really boosting the Leafs. 2 points is 2 points. Whether it's a shootout win or 4-0.

    Not much can be gleaned from just 6 games though. I wouldn't celebrate. But it would be too early to doom and gloom the team too.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2013
  5. bshaw

    bshaw Registered User

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    1-1-1 next week is my guess
     
  6. LeafsNation75

    LeafsNation75 Registered User

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    Daisy I want to say this was a great post to read and very well thought out. :handclap:
     
  7. Ari91

    Ari91 Registered User

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    Great read with a lot of great points!

    My favourite part was the way people throw around all of the different cliches because it's actually very true :laugh:
     
  8. Daisy Jane

    Daisy Jane everything is gonna be okay!

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    thanks you guys!

    Hockeycrazed - I think my new favourite one is going to be "small sample size." Leafs are doing well "small sample size!" leafs are losing "well they always suck."
     
  9. Hotlanta

    Hotlanta Registered User

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    I would be happy with that. Carolina has been very impressive this year, even if the stats don't show it. All it takes is a good game from Ward.
     
  10. Tyler Biggs*

    Tyler Biggs* Guest

    This is a pretty good hockey team. Doesn't matter what style of game the enemy wants to play, skill/speed/toughness, the Leafs can match up well.

    The Leafs are looking great so far this year, no matter what type of game it is they seem to be always in it! Even when things are going bad and the lucks not on their side they have the potential to get back in the game and pull out wins. Looks like a fun year to be a Leaf fan!
     
  11. Tavares the Noble

    Tavares the Noble I was in the pool!!

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    It must really grind your gears that the Leafs are 1st in the Atlantic. Puts a smile on my face!:laugh::laugh::laugh:
     
  12. smitty10

    smitty10 Registered User

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    This is exactly the start the Leafs needed while being down Clarkson, Kulemin and Fraser. Adding those guys back to the lineup and allowing Leivo, Broll and Ashton to go back to the Marlies will only improve this team and their grit. I really think that if this team clicks they'll go very deep in the playoffs.

    I can't wait to see this roster up front:

    JvR-Bozak-Kessel
    Lupul-Kadri-Clarkson
    Raymond-Bolland-Kulemin
    Bodie-McClement-Orr


    Just a great mix of skill, toughness, grit and compete in that lineup. We won't be pushed around by many teams and won't lose many games by 2+ goals. Adding Bernier in net has also been a huge improvement (although Reimer is still a more than capable 1b).
     
  13. thewave

    thewave Your safe space is 1 click away cowards!

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    Great post, Bozak is indeed a bum. ;)
     
  14. Blair

    Blair Registered User

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    I am (much like Carlyle) a believer that in the end it really just comes down to the two points. Fans of other teams - especially Canadian teams - will always look for ways to discredit the Leafs, and while their reasons are flat out comical at times the buds do make it easier for them to point to advanced stats or faceoff% or even stretches of play where either individual players are making gaffes or the play as a unit is decidedly "loose" to borrow a word from the OP.

    I watched saturday's game from a bar in Edmonton full of rowdy Oiler fans. It was a pretty crazy night for both teams and their fans. The talk after the game (and on hfboards too) was all about how the Oilers vastly outplayed the Leafs and were extremely unlucky to lose, how they would've beat us with any other goalie in net, and so on. Talk like this is ridiculous to me. Yes their goalie is terrible but a goaltender is very much a part of the team, so to trot out a sieve night after night and feel entitled to a win lol playing team defense that is virtually non existent is just asinine. It goes both ways as Bernier did not have a strong game either, and if he plays half as well as he did in every other game this season we win that by at least 2 or 3 goals.

    That the Leafs have yet to play particularly solid overall game to this point (imo) and are still 5-1 is interesting. The sample is small, and the teams we beat so far are not very good, but I have a feeling there are going to be a lot of games this season we end up winning that feel that way. This goes beyond early season rust. The Leafs will often make it harder on themselves than they need to because hey it's the Leafs and we're used to that by now, but results have proven this team to be pretty good for quite awhile now (minus that stretch of a few weeks infamously compared to an 18 wheeler going off a cliff). We have two goaltenders who are capable of flat out stealing games and a number of different forwards who produce offensively. This is a playoff caliber team (advanced stats be damned), but we'll be pulling our hair out over the course of this season watching them get there. I certainly was on saturday... heh.
     
  15. GoHardSports

    GoHardSports TorontoMarleauLeafs

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    Really enjoyed this. Keep it up boys.
     
  16. Grant

    Grant LL Genius

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    Awesome post.
     

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