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[Open Thread] Toronto Maple Leafs at Atlanta Thrashers

Sorry that this is up so late but sometimes the people that pay you want you to do work before you take care of your hobby. Jerks. Anyway, the Leafs are currently in a stretch where they resemble the poor wolf blowing on the third pig's home: lots of huffing and puffing with no results. Then again, at times they seem like that same wolf attacking one of the earlier houses once the pigs are gone: a minimum of huffing and puffing and no results. Basically, the Leafs are not the bloodthirsty wolves that tear wandering red deers apart.

Here's a breakdown of some statistics from the last game against the Habs that shows just how much work went into getting the tying goal. It also serves to counter Habs fans belief that the game was somehow even in the third period. The shot distances that are recorded by the NHL stats monkeys are suspect at best. Kovalev's powerplay goal in the third is listed at 25 feet which is generous considering he was maybe 3 feet away from the crease so take these shot distances with a grain of salt (ie saying that the Leafs' shots were from far away is not a valid riposte because I just showed that their distances are off by about 200%).

Total Shots on Goal
Toronto - 17
Montreal - 6

Average Distance
Toronto - 41 feet
Montreal - 41 feet

Weird, distance doesn't even hold up as an excuse. Now, those are just the shots that were counted as being on net.

Blocked Shots
Toronto - 4
Montreal - 4

So that's pretty even but then look at the shots that missed the net.

Missed Shots (distance in feet)
Toronto - 15, 34, 41, 26, 55
Montreal - 53

So that's 26 pucks the Leafs directed at the Habs' net compared to 11 in reply. That seems like the Leafs were clearly putting pressure on Les Habitants. Not only that but there were 14 face-offs in the attacking zone for the Leafs compared to just 6 in the neutral zone (including two after goals) and a paltry three in the Leafs' end. That is a lot of work to get one goal and makes it that much clearer that the Leafs are in a lot of trouble facing Carey Price four more times this year.

As for tonight's game, the Leafs face the Thrashers in Atlanta. The Thrashers are 11-6 after firing their coach and having the GM head behind the bench. Careful JFJ, don't get any ideas! No 5 Questions tonight (Any interested Atlanta blogger please e-mail me) but here is your scary stat of the night: The Thrashers have winning percentages of 1.000 and .857 when leading after 1 and 2 periods respectively while the Leafs have winning percentages of .182 and .143 when trailing after those same intervals. If the horn sounds to end a period and the Thrashers have a lead then odds are that the Leafs are done.

There are actually some encouraging statistics before this game. The Leafs' 8th rank road penalty kill (87%) will be facing the league's 21st ranked home powerplay (15.4%) while the Leafs listless 10th ranked road powerplay (10.2%) gets to take a crack at the league's worst home penalty kill (71.4%). Also, for all of the talk of declining scoring, it is certainly not these two teams' fault as they have been very generous in allowing as many goals as possible. The 29th (Atlanta) and 30th (Toronto) ranked defences match up averaging 3.39 and 3.48 goals allowed per game.

And here is some of Steve Simmons' patented comedic stylings before the game: JFJ Hates Richard Peddie.

Simmons is probably jealous because it's called the Cox Bloc and not the Simmons Bloc even though he has contributed so much material. I could write a piece about why that is the most ridiculous thing he could have written but Ninja succintly takes it down:

Point 1.) is completely false. Every trade, signing, draft choice, front office or coach hiring, firing, or resignation has occurred on the premise of MLSE's inability to provide a clear vision.

And that's that. JFJ is left flapping in the wind trying to make moves that will not only save his job (trading for Toskala, Raycroft) but will also not kill him in the future (re-signing his RFAs and playing the kids more). It's an internal struggle between Today JFJ and Future JFJ set off because MLSe cannot figure out what it wants to do with the team. Not that JFJ is absolved but let's keep the target in sight: Richard Peddie and Larry Tanenbaum.

The Captain's 400th goal as a Leaf was enough to propel him to another Player of the Game nod. Remember to put your guesses for who will score take the first shot, get the first penalty, and score the first goal in the comments. I'll keep a running tally of the results in the right sidebar. We've doubled the number of participants but no one has been able to rack up many points so join in now before everyone's guessing abilities improve. Join now to get in some practice because I'm thinking of having a competition for a prize after the all-star break with wonderful prizes. No idea what they will be but they'll be awesome.

As always, the comment section is a wonderful place to vent and rage between periods or make hopeful predictions that you can tout in the future if they happen to come to pass. Each period and overtime/shootout gets their own section so just reply to the relevant section's main post and as much as it hurts try to refrain from swearing despite Herpes' best efforts to make you turn the air blue. All you need to get started is to set up an account to comment so register and share your thoughts.