Overall Record 15-6-0 (Last week 4-0-0) - 1st Atlantic
The state of the union is STRONG.
The wild fire's aren't the only thing burning a hole in LA. For the first time since 1995 the Toronto Maple Leafs have swept the California roadie. Last nights win against Columbus was just a cherry on top. At the time of publication, the Leafs are one quarter through their season. They are comfortably sitting 2nd in league standings with 30 Points at 15-6-0, just one point back of a certified wagon in the Nashville Predators. The players are having fun out there and it shows. Instead of talking about their coaches in Uber’s, you have players singing YMCA with their teammate’s kids in a dodge grand caravan. What a wholesome and fun organization. Toronto is 4 points ahead of division rivals Boston and Montreal, four points ahead of Laine and the Winnipeg Jets, 7 points ahead of interim champion Washington Capitals, and ELEVEN points ahead of Connor McDavid’s Edmonton Oilers.
A quick aside about Edmonton since Matthews and McDavid are intrinsically linked. That team is a god damn dumpster fire. Chiarelli has to be one of the most incompetent GM’s in league history, and they choose to fire the coach? I don’t get it. They are on pace once again to miss the playoffs which would be the third time in four years since McDavid’s arrival. What a sick joke that is; for Chiarelli’s sake Hitchcock better whip these idiots into shape or he’s going to be collecting food stamps with Mclellan come January 1st.
Sorry, where was I? Oh yeah, the Leafs are an absolutely rinsing this league. How has this happened? Well, it seems like the team is playing out of their skin every single night lately. The star players have stepped up, and the role players have been contributing. Mitch Marner is on pace for a breakout year, sitting fourth in league scoring, with 28 points. Tavares is quietly being Tavares with 12 goals and 25 points (on pace for a career year). Reilly is making his case to have Bettman hand deliver the Norris Trophy to his front door step, and his 5Mil AAV has to be the best bargain in the league right about now.
Then there is Fredrick Anderson, and wow, this guy deserves his own paragraph. To keep it concise you can see his stats throughout the month of November below. He is simply the best goalie in the league right now. His season stats are 12-5-0, 2.08 GAA and .935 Sv%. (all 5 losses come at home.)
Ok, so this team is nasty, but the question is if this pace is sustainable. The answer is complicated, yes and no. The Leafs are on pace for 117 points, which I don’t think they’ll hit, there’s too much parody in the league, BUFFALO has 28 points. I thought that city was only good for crushing tables with a BAC of .35 and wings, but what do I know. Toronto has an ANIMAL 9-1-0 record on the road, aided by their most recent west coast sweep (best in the national league). Combine this with an underwhelming 6-5 record at home leads me to believe that the Leafs should continue a similar pace. The road record will drop slightly, but the home record should rise, and the Leaf’s will continue to be an elite team in the NHL.
Then the question remains: can the players sustain their pace of play? Well, probably not. Marner is on pace for 109 points, and Reilly 101. (100 points by a defenceman has only been accomplished 14 times in NHL history, 11 of those instances were by either Bobby Orr or Paul Coffey, and no one has done it since 1992.) This just isn’t going to happen. Marner and Reilly are going to have great seasons, but 109 and 101 points are too lofty expectations. The good thing is they don’t need to. Matthews is gearing up for a return within the week, and HOPEFULLY that roach Nylander puts down the bottle and rejoins the team for a cup run.
LAST WEEK'S GAMES
The LA Kings just aren’t a good hockey team. This is what happens when you give albatross contracts to veteran’s nearing the twilight of their careers. This is what happens when you get Kovalchuk and sign him to a three year 18.75 Million dollar deal. The guy was literally drunk at playoff games in the KHL, why would you sign him to a deal like this? He literally doesn’t give a damn, he just wants to party in LA. Whatever. Either way, Toronto steam rolled this team, skating them into the ground for 60 minutes. If you watched this game there isn’t much to talk about, but the Leaf’s did what they’re supposed to do as a good team; pick apart bad teams.
This though, this is an all time pizza by Igor Ozhiganov. (good to see Dion getting some points)
SAN JOSE SHARKS:
I know Joe Thorton is a legend and his teammates respect him, but Naz had to have done something else to provoke this sort of violence besides fight Jumbo a year ago.
To say that Naz is living rent free in their heads is an understatement. Barclay Goodrow dug his team an early hole with a roughing penalty 8 seconds into the game which lead to a John Tavares goal. This was a big game for Kasperi Kapenen, as he continues to demonstrate his value in the absence of Matthews. Two goals, one shorthanded, helped lead the Leafs to a 5-3 victory. Anderson was once again solid stopping 42-45. Oh yeah, and he also threw a warm dish of baked ziti cross ice to marner to put the nail in the Sharks coffin.
Garret sparks was immaculate in a win against a Perry-less Ducks Friday night. Stopping 38 of 39 was a much needed confidence boost after last weeks lost against Boston. Marleau scored a fluke goal in the first, the Sharks responded as Pontus Aberg ripped one past Sparks in the second. This was a fast paced game with many chances, but ultimately it was overtime that would decide the winner. And this folks is why we pay John Tavares 11 million dollars. Look at this back check and active stick starting the odd man rush that would ultimately lead to the game winner. You can say it was a good pass, or a good shot, but that wouldn't have even happened if it wasn't for JT. What a play.
The leafs had every excuse to roll over and die last night. They were manhandled in the first period and saw themselves down 2-0. They could’ve said "screw it, we’re hungover from the weekend, we just swept the west, and we would have been fine with a loss." Well this team doesn’t roll over. They ain’t no dying dog.
Tyler Ennis started the barrage with a disgusting goal, unleashing his inner-Crosby with some fantastic edgework. In my opinion, if Matthews and Nylander return, he is making a very, very strong case to remain in the lineup over Josh Leivo and Freddy the goat.
Marner continued the comeback by WALKING Scott Harrington en route to yet another John Tavares goal. Zach Hyman scored two, one being an empty netter, and Anderson yet again had an incredible performance with 37 saves.
WHAT IS TO COME:
The Leafs have another 4 games in 7 days coming up this week. They play a hot team in Carolina tomorrow night, who by the way have the weirdest post game celebrations I've ever seen. Then a back to back against Columbus (Road) and Flyers (home). Then we got Boston, at the BANK, Monday night. I have mentioned Matthews is nearing his return. I say they save him for that Monday game. That would be cyclical to have Matthews return from injury to pick apart a sick and dying bruins team who just lost Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara. I predict we go 3-1-0 in this stretch. But I also predict we beat Boston by 2.5 goals at home. That is my bet.