The undefeated Toronto Maple Leafs strolled into the Pittsburgh Penguins' new home, the Consol Energy Centre, and emerged victorious 4-3. Now, we Leafs fans are obviously prone to veering from glee-filled highs to morose lows so it is fabulous(!) to have so many people ready to remind us of some important truths:
- Eric Francis chided not just Leafs fans but Toronto media that two games and two wins was no reason to plan a parade. It's great that a scribe that has so much history covering a winning team (no series wins in the last 21 years outside of 2004) would let us know how this parade thing works. I figured we'd just have something like this drawn up already.
- James Duthie kicked things off TSN's various panels by reminding us that 8 periods do not make an entire season and that, again, we should not dust off parade plans that have been sitting idle for 4000 years.
- Then the Oracle of Duthie told us that while Clarke MacArthur is on pace for 100 goals he likely won't reach that plateau. I wonder if my bookie will give me back my money.
- I had to miss the last 10 minutes of the third period so that I could injure my knee but listening to the post-game on AM640 with Andy Frost I learned a valuable fact from Mike In Buffalo: this team will not go 82-0-0. I was floored. I almost drove off the road. I hate to be the one to share this with the rest of you. Of course, they could go 82-0-0...only 79 more games to go. Boy, Mike would feel really dumb if it did wouldn't he?
- Mike was also kind enough to inform us that Clarke MacArthur would not be leading the NHL in goals. Well, the same things were said about Jose Bautista weren't they? WEREN'T THEY? Someone get a trophy engraver on the phone.
- Finally, C-Balls (presumably because they are just barely average)* confused the parade issue: is it actually already planned? Are we going through with it? I just don't know what to believe anymore.
One thing I do know - and I thank tdot_eli for reminding me and Eyebleaf, presumably, for saying it - is this: Will they ever lose again? Let's be honest. Probably not.
*If you don't know the C-Balls thing basically Stefan Legein (a true Canadian legend) dubbed him that in 2008 at the World Juniors. I can't find the video but this one is pretty funny.
Do you think I laid it on pretty thick? I hope so because that seems to be the only way people will understand that while we're all pretty happy to see a hockey team actually playing hockey that we are well aware that this team is not the greatest team in the league. Yes, looking at the NHL standings right now is freaking sweet. But no, we're not going over the top. Sorry we're happy. We would like to kindly ask you 'plan the parade harf harf harf' folks to go fuck yourselves. Don't care how you do it but I hope your team is contracted while you do it.
Wow. That's a lot of rage. Maybe it's because I remember all of the kicks Leafs fans took on the way down. If this is a false dawn I want to get my licks in now and if it's not then dear God I am going to give others the kind of facewash that leaves their face stinking of stank for days. But enough of that, on to the analysis.
As you can see, the links to the advanced stats are back for the game recaps. I think that our community is open to looking at the development of these news stats. They are obviously not the be-all and end-all right now but within the right context they do begin to come together to explain the picture that we see with our eyes along with the counting stats. Some examples and the game in six below:
The Corsi and Fenwick numbers were ugly. At even strength the Leafs came out firing for the first eight minutes (no shots against!) and then it was one way traffic after Luke Schenn's four minute minor for high-sticking. The top line of Kris Versteeg - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel were especially overrun. Considering how everyone was bothered by their poor play I don't think there's any surprise there.
Mikhail Grabovski and Mike Zigomanis won a solitary offensive zone face-off a piece. Each one led directly to goals for the Maple Leafs. Face-offs are important.
Speaking of face-offs, Schenn and Tomas Kaberle were on the ice for more defensive zone face-offs which is actually counter-intuitive to how you think they would be used.
Carl Gunnarsson and Mike Komisarek have had a rough start to their partnership. They played about 14 minutes each.
Colton Orr is a simple guy in a good sense. You know what you get with him. He is not an enforcer trying to move off the fourth line. He works hard, hits everthing that moves, fights with a smile on his face, and definitely does not box on skates. That's why Engelland popped him. That's also why Orr was a catalyst for the Leafs' good start. Stat line: 3 shifts, 1:46 TOI, 1 goal, +2, 5 PIM, and one sore jaw. But he will not change and that's why he's an important member of the Leafs. Video reaction to the fight's result
When Clarke MacArthur was signed the reaction was predictably rabid but the reviews were lukewarm at best. He's off to a hot start (duh) - which happened last year as well - but he's one of a trio of summer acquisitions among the forward ranks that realise that they have a unique opportunity to contribute. Clarke is sick of being shifted around and wants to find a home. Tell me you don't love to read that he chose to play under the microscope.
This is the Leafs' best start since 1999 which is another year which this team could have been compared to before the season. Not sure what happened to them but I am guessing they came down to earth in game four.
Jonas Gustavsson looked shaky to start the game. Thankfully, much as he did against Philadelphia in the pre-season, he stepped it up. Now, there is a lot of research showing that the concept of 'clutch' does not exist. This is one place where I am torn. The numbers show that every save is clutch because every goal in hockey is so damn important. You might say there is no such thing as a routine save but then again you may have never seen Vesa Toskala muff a 197 foot shot. Anyway - having said that - the save on Pascal Dupuis, three minutes after the Leafs took a 3-2 lead, was clutch as hell. How he got over there we may never know but wow.
Courtesy of Derek - The Pensblog
Can we talk about how last year giving up a goal with 43.2 seconds left in the second period to leave the team with a one-goal lead would have ended up in a loss? Maybe things are different.
Noted legal mind Tyler Dellow just told Chemmy and I that we were cute because we were so happy. Like I said - and we both replied at the same time - times have been tough. The odds are that they will get tough once again. In the meantime, let's just ride the wave. Little streaks like this are why you cheer during the down times. The sun shines brighter, the sky is a suitable shade of blue, and smiles are brighter.