Why seven? Because 10 is too much for me to think of at 11 o'clock at night, and 5 would make it seem like I were lazy.
1) Nikolai Kulemin is no longer a 3rd line plugger; he's a legitimate 2nd line scoring threat. In the 5 games since the trade deadline, he has 5 points (2G, 3A) and is a +3. Aside from scoring he brings great hustle, grit, and flair that was previously buried on the third line behind guys like Hagman, Stempniak, Blake, and Ponikarovski.
2) The penalty kill may no longer be broken. Since the trades for Dion Phaneuf and J.S. Giguere, the Leafs have been shorthanded 32 times in 11 games. They have given up only 5 powerplay goals during that span (1 each in the last 4 games), and 2 of those goals came in 5 on 3 situations. After the math, that results in a whopping 84.4% PK rate. Over the course of the season that would be good for 5th best in the league.
3) Kaberle is not who he once was. Scoreless in his last 7 games with a -6 rating over that span, he's a team worse -15 on the season. While he has a team best 46 points; only 12 of those have come since Christmas. Brace yourselves for the offseason should he be traded; the days of Jeff Carter + a 1st are over.
5) The goaltending might finally be average. Since the trade that sent Vesa Toskala to Anaheim and brought JSG to Toronto, Toronto goalies have posted a collective .911 Save %. While not stellar, it's way better than the sub .900 goaltending that was present during Toskala's time here, and behind what amounts to half of the Toronto Marlies.
6) This team needs some offense. Since the Phaneuf for everybody trade, the Leafs have averaged 2.36 goals per game. To let you know how bleak that is, over the course of the season that puts us tied for dead last in scoring with...the Boston Bruins.
7) Phil Kessel is still Phil Kessel. With the shortened season due to shoulder surgery, Kessell has only played in 55 games this year. But in those games he's score 23 goals including last night's OT winner. Over the span of an 82 game season, that's on pace for 34 goals. Then factor in that his centres have ranged from Matt Stajan, to Mikhail Grabovski, to John Mitchell, to Tyler Bozak. Then factor in that he's has goal scoring droughts of 5, 8, and 5 games and it's pretty obvious that he's a future perennial 40 goal scorer at the age of 22.
On to some links!
Lackadaisical veterans; old and busted. Go getter rookies; new hotness [Globe and Mail]
Another game recap courtesy of [The Hockey News]
Presenting the NHL in graph form. Special guest appearance by an old picture with a new look [Bangin Panger]
Further proof that ESPN sucks at all things hockey related [Behind the Net]
The Leafs have exactly zero players in this list of the Top 50 NCAA prospects [WCH Blog]
Bloge Salming and DGB sneaked in to the Awesome Leafs Meeting [Bloge Salming]
The guys at Five Hole Fanatics normalize Carl Gunnarsson's +/- rating, and provide a formula to use for all the Leafs [Five Hole Fanatics]
A fantastic interview with former assistant GM Jeff Jackson [Mirtle at The Globe and Mail]
Another good piece about assistant GM Jeff Jackson leaving the club [The Score]
Gunnarsson making his case as a Top 4 defenseman for Toronto [Globe and Mail]
MLSE C.O.O. to lead a delegation with The Cup to Afghanistan [NHL.com]
Ever wanting to drive the Zamboni? Of course you have. Here's how [NY Times]
Leafs put in bids to host All-Star Game, the Draft, and the Winter Classic [The Hockey News]
Since finding footage of llamas playing hockey is apparently hard to come by, LD had to get creative for her Youtube Yoinkage [WWoLD]
It's all about the young guns in town. Not hard when more than half the team is under 25 [Hockey Analysis]
The Leafs Playoff March continues! [Youtubes]