Toronto: a tale of two teams

Cam Lewis
January 23 2015 08:00AM

It’s been a tale of two teams in Toronto this season. On one hand, you have the Leafs who seemed to be legitimate playoff contenders in mid-December, but on the other, you have the team who has fallen off a cliff by the All-Star break. The Leafs have lost their last six games and fans appear to be draft watching at this point, a far cry from where they were just two months ago when they were in the midst of a six game winning streak. 

When things were riding high for the Leafs, they had a stretch between Nov. 20 and Dec. 16 where they went 10-1-1, improving their record from 9-8-2 to 19-9-3. Since Dec. 18, which was the end of their six game winning streak, the Leafs have gone 3-14-0. Over that time, their record has fallen from a very respectable 19-9-3 all the way to 22-23-3. 

So which of these two versions of the Toronto Maple Leafs is legitimate? Are they as good as they seemed to be back in early December when times were good, or are they as bad as they are right now in the thick of their longest losing streak of the season? Let’s break down each streak and see.

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A quick look at what effect the loser point has had on the NHL standings

Cam Lewis
January 21 2015 08:45AM

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A win is a win and a loss is a loss. Why the NHL feels the need to reward teams with an extra point for losing a little bit later on in a game is completely beyond me. It made some sense back before the 2004-05 lockout put an end to tie games, but now, with every game resulting in a win, it’s unnecessary. Through the last five seasons, the loser point has had a relatively negligible effect on the standings, but the culture of rewarding teams with one point for losing a game after regulation waters down the incentive to win. 

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The Rangers and Marc Staal reportedly closing in on a new deal

Cam Lewis
January 16 2015 02:07PM

It looks like the Staal brother reunion is going to have to wait, as the New York Rangers and defenceman Marc Staal are reportedly closing in on a six-year deal worth somewhere between $5.6 and $5.9 million a year. With the signing, the Rangers will have the top end of their D-core, including Staal, Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh tied up for the foreseeable future, but will have to make decisions on Martin St. Louis, Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin and Mats Zuccarello who are all reaching the end of their deals this summer. Also, with Staal likely off the market, the summer 2015 UFA market is starting to looking really dry, which is great for guys like Jeff Petry and Cody Franson.

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The Nashville Predators are legit, even without Rinne in net

Cam Lewis
January 16 2015 10:31AM

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The Nashville Predators, who currently own the best record in the NHL, are about to begin life without the league’s best goaltender, Pekka Rinne, who will miss the next three to five weeks with a knee injury. With Rinne out of the lineup, the Predators will be forced to prove to the rest of the league that they truly are the Stanley Cup contender their record suggests they are, and that they aren’t just a one-dimensional team riding the success of their goaltender. 

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Nobody was better than the Dominator when he was at his best

Cam Lewis
January 14 2015 09:15AM

When Buffalo raised Dominik Hasek’s number to the rafters on Tuesday night, it sparked a question regarding where he belongs on the list of greatest goaltenders of all time. While he doesn’t have the same longevity or success that legendary goalies from the same era like Patrick Roy and Martin Brodeur had, when he was at his best, nobody was better than Hasek. At his peak, he was the most dominant goalie ever to play the game. There’s a reason he was called the Dominator — it certainly wasn’t just a pun on his first name. 

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