November 02 2016 01:17AM
Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski/USA TODAY SPORTS
When it was realized that the line of Connor Brown, Nazem Kadri, and Leo Komarov was going to be the one that was tasked with shutting down super-phenom and all-around greatest player on earth Connor McDavid, many had their concerns. Sure, all three are hard workers, but what was Kadri going to be able to do to a player that's bigger, faster, and younger than him?
Sure enough, he had what could be argued to be the best game of his NHL career. The quintessential Nazem Kadri game. Much to the delight of the Leafs, of course; without that, they don't win this game.
October 28 2016 10:19AM
Photo Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn/USA TODAY SPORTS
Sometimes, when somebody describes a hockey player, you get a mental image of them in your head. The summer of inane arguments about Kris Russell, both involving the Leafs and other teams, gave me a mental image of a hulking, physical, shot blocking machine. Has to be, with the way people talk about him; my eyes must've just been deceiving me when he looked pretty pedestrian-sized on my TV.
Sure enough, he's 5'10, 170. A real-world average height and weight who's description is larger than life. This post isn't about Kris Russell in the slightest, but it was baffling to me that this guy, who gets talked about as the player who is more likely to take a player out of the league than to get taken out, is an inch shorter and about the same weight as Mitch Marner.
October 26 2016 11:25AM
Photo Credit: Dan Hamilton/USA TODAY SPORTS
Late in the third period of last night's game, Frederik Andersen made a routine pad save. The crowd gave him a sarcastic "Bronx Cheer." A person behind me yells "I can't believe they're paying $5 million for this", and another calls him the worst investment since Vesa Toskala.
I turn around, as I've been talking back and forth between the group throughout the game, and note that I'm not ready to write the guy off after six games, given his history. The one who made the latter statement agreed, but stressed that, since he's paying good money for these seats, he's going to vent some in-the-moment frustration in the meantime.
Hard to argue with that logic, really. If I didn't get the tickets as a gift, I probably wouldn't have been thrilled at the idea of paying lower bowl prices to watch the Leafs put some of their weaker shots of the year towards the net in hopes of getting a lucky bounce or two to stop the goal bleeding on the other end. It was undoubtedly Andersen's roughest night on the job since coming here, and the whole ordeal got me to thinking: the Leafs should probably pull him away from the pipes for a little bit.
October 25 2016 11:25AM
Photo Credit: Matt Marton/USA TODAY SPORTS
The Toronto Maple Leafs are 1-1-3 to start the season. They have lost 80% of their games this season. They had the lead in every game that they lost; sometimes by as many as four goals. Many have taken this as a sign that this is the same ol' Leafs as last year, with a couple of more promising kids to keep fans entertained but the same general results. I've even seen the t-word used again by those who want the Leafs to add another blue chip prospect.
In a weird way, it feels like people are getting carried away by not being carried enough away. The end result of these five games has been about as close as you can get to a worst case scenario, but the process is light-years ahead of anything the Leafs have shown in a very long time.
October 21 2016 04:46AM
Photo Credit: Kevin Hoffman/USA TODAY SPORTS
The Toronto Maple Leafs step onto the ice. It's another hockey game for a team that we are all hoping, one day, will reach its potential. But there's still lots of time left; the kids are far too young to be treated as anything more than prospects given an early spotlight, after all, so there's no use in expecting a ton.
Take a guy like William Nylander, for instance. We've got high hopes for William Nylander, as a collective populace. Despite being ranked as the third best prospect in the organisation heading into opening night, he's still got a higher ceiling than most team's #1 prospects at moment. Right now, he plays right wing, because Auston Matthews, Nazem Kadri, and Tyler Bozak exist and because Mitch Marner is the only other hyper-skilled right winger.
If he stays that way, Leafs fans dream that they can have a player who can tilt the ice like Phil Kessel did when he was here. Or maybe dream bigger; like Corey Perry does, or like Patrick Kane does. One can dream.
Hold that thought.