Today is my last day guest hosting at Pension Plan Puppets. From the discussion of transgendered children's toys to the exchange of slow cooker recipes, it's been a great week of hockey here.
Tomorrow, your regular host and photoshop genius Chemmy will return, no doubt stinking of mojitos, tanned to the color of Corinthian leather and picking sand out of private places when he hopes none of us are looking.
Last night, the Leafs turned in what might have been their best performance of the year, pummelling the Penguins 7-3.
For the first time in, oh about six years, the Leafs didn't surrender the first goal of the game or find themselves trailing after forty-eight seconds of play (ok, six years may be a bit of an exaggeration, but what are they going to do - fire me? It's my last day...oh ok - the Leafs have given up the first goal in 21 of their 32 games to date). The Leafs were great on the PP and strong on the PK. Disciplined yet aggressive up front, solid and strong defensively, this was not the same team we saw in Boston.
So the morning after a big win, we'd all expect kudos for the Leafs, right? Well, for the most part the Leafs didn't get trashed by the local media, but PPP doesn't call this feature the Negative Nancy Notebook for nothing. Details after the jump...
The most interesting part of the reaction to the Leafs win has already been touched on by PPP and that's all the nonesense about the Code that was tossed around by Pens Fans and Donald S. Cherry after this Leafs win.
The other angle of post-game chatter is the maxim if the Leafs win it's because the other team didn't show up.
The Associated Press Headline: Leafs Bury Lazy Penguins offers this gem:
The Penguins, who hadn't lost in the retro uniforms coming in and are, really, at least twice as good as the Leafs, fell to 17-11-4.
If NHL teams were like stocks, which team would have a strong sell rating? Yup, the Pens:
The Penguins are really starting to feel the effects of all the injury troubles they've been suffering through this season. On top of missing D's Ryan Whitney and Sergei Gonchar all season, they have also endured extended absences by Tyler Kennedy, Hal Gill, Maxime Talbot, Phillip Boucher, Marc-Andre Fleury, and now maybe even Pascal Dupuis.
It has started to show in their play, as "hold-the-fort" .500 hockey has turned into embarrassing losses to New Jersey and Toronto, and even ugly wins against teams like Atlanta. Still, the simple solution to all this is for the team to just get healthy, starting with the likely return of Whitney sometime this coming week.
So, some think the Leafs didn't so much dominate as defeat an uniterested opponent. Ok, but are there other positives we can take from the game? Well, the Toronto Sun points out there's good news and bad news on the special teams front:
You might think a team with the firepower of the Penguins would be among on the league leaders in power play goals. The Pens, though, are ranked 11th in the NHL with a power play success rate of 19.3%. The Leafs are actually ahead of Pittsburgh with a 20.7% rate of success, good for ninth in the NHL. Pittsburgh's penalty kill is 12th with a success rate of 81.9% while the leafs are way down in 28th, at 75.2%. The numbers are surprising, given that Wilson's teams in San Jose were always near the top of that department.
None of the various Penguins Blogs I hit are worth a visit. I wish I had something more clever to say here, but I don't.