December 26 2016 01:26PM
It's the most wonderful time of year! The World Juniors are back, and with them, we can all unite in arguing with each other about which teenagers carry the best passports. For Canada, the land that occupies most of our hearts, that two-week journey begins with their game against the Russians at Toronto's Air Canada Centre.
December 20 2016 11:48AM
Photo Credit: Dan Hamilton/USA TODAY SPORTS
Young Frederik Gauthier steps into the defensive zone faceoff circle against Ryan Kesler. Zach Hyman just responded to an admittedly rough situation by punching a guy, which the referees didn't like, putting the Leafs on a crucial penalty kill. Give up a goal, and the team is in huge trouble.
Kesler assembles his group the way he wants them. He knows that the four players Toronto have placed on the ice; Gauthier, Connor Brown, Roman Polak, and Matt Hunwick, aren't mobile enough to conclusively win a race if the play doesn't work out. He also knows that Gauthier doesn't have a ton of experience against him at the dot and that his handedness is just right for this set play.
The puck drops and Kesler wins the faceoff clean. Nobody knows what's going on. Cam Fowler skates into a now-open one-timer and blasts the puck past Frederik Andersen. 3-2 Ducks.
December 15 2016 12:29PM
Photo Credit: Eric Hartline/USA TODAY SPORTS
The Leafs are 10-1-5 this year when leading after two periods, and as a result of those six games that got away, Toronto's inability to close out has become a hot-button discussion in town of late. I don't have any significant answers on how to fix this, but just out of curiosity, I decided to look up how much time every NHL team spends with the lead, trailing behind, and tied in the league this year.
December 14 2016 11:27AM
A month ago, Leafs fans were introduced to a defensive pairing that, well, sounded like a worst-case scenario. Matt Hunwick on the left side. Roman Polak on the right. All of Toronto's veteran presence on the point concentrated into a single deployment. What we knew heading into it wasn't encouraging.
December 09 2016 09:56AM
Photo Credit: Bruce Fedyck/USA TODAY SPORTS
I think we can all agree that today's National Hockey League is one essentially run by its young talent. The game is getting faster and more systems reliant, meaning that those with the quickest skilled reflexes to break through holes are the ones that are reaping the rewards.
But in a season of youth, only one name matters.