I hope you're all ready to stay up late. Tonight The Leafs kick off their annual pilgrimage to California, playing The Ducks at 10:00PM EST. Tomorrow they will play The Kings at 10:30PM EST, and on Saturday The Shorks at 7:00PM EST.
The California road trip has an almost supernatural habit of making or breaking Eastern Conference teams' seasons. The Flyers are the most recent victims, departing Los Angeles last Saturday with three straight losses. That in and of itself is routine enough for the LOLFLYERS, so instead think back to March 2014. The Leafs were a borderline playoff team, and this road trip was viewed as their chance to make it or break it.
They made it. The Leafs defeated The Kings and The Ducks to pick up 4 of 6 points on the trip moving them back to a 0.500 record. They left California on a high note, with one big exception: Jonathan Bernier.
Bernier was injured in the final game, and James Reimer came in to relieve him for the start of the second period. Reimer stopped 31 shots and lead the Leafs to victory over the reigning Stanley Cup Champions. All good right? That's when it started. That game on March 13 was the last win the Leafs would have until April 1st, a ridiculous 8 game streak of regulation losses. Much of the blame fell on James Reimer who had a horrible streak of games that set in motion the biggest goalie controversy this team has had in recent memory.
So here we are in 2016, once again setting off for the Pacific coast. But this time they don't seem so scary, eh? The Kings, obviously, are a force to be reckoned with, but the Shorks and Ducks? The Ducks sit with the league's worst goals-for at 73 in 39 games. Someone pass the orange sauce.
Bring it on, California. We'll have a game preview for you this afternoon.
2016 World Junior Championships: Golden goal for Kasperi Kapanen in OT - Pension Plan Puppets
Kasperi Kapanen and Team Finland invited Russia over to Hartwall arena for the gold medal game of the WJC, and wow the Finns know how to throw a party.
Kasperi Kapanen: Golden goal scorer, dancer extraordinaire - Pension Plan Puppets
Can you do the can can? Kasperi Kapanen can.
USA 8 vs Sweden 3 World Juniors Recap: Timashov comes up short of a medal - Pension Plan Puppets
The Leafs will have only one prospect (Kasperi Kapanen) bring home a medal as Dmytro Timashov and Team Sweden finish fourth.
World Junior Hockey: USA Drops Semifinal Heartbreaker to Russia 2-1 - SB Nation College Hockey
The United States could only score once in a 2-1 semifinal loss to Russia.
Sweden’s Dmytro Timashov wows Leafs’ Mark Hunter at world juniors - The Globe and Mail
Highlight among five Toronto prospects to play in tournament scored two goals with five assists for Sweden
Last Night's Game GIFs
Here's me waking up for work this morning.
What a shot by Ghost Bear!
Way to save it, then put it in your own net, Stars.
so much fail happening in the third Rangers goal pic.twitter.com/NS6CyGpmBK— Stephanie (@myregularface) January 6, 2016
Jagr leads the Panthers to their 10th win in a row!
coach Jagr pic.twitter.com/e6c0wEViGE— Stephanie (@myregularface) January 6, 2016
The DoPS will be reviewing this mess.
SB Nation Game Recaps
New Young Guns Lift Caps Over Bruins 3-2 - Japers' Rink
Youngsters Kuznetsov, Burakovsky and Johansson showed the Boston Bruins what the new "Young Guns" era looks like in Washington, scoring a 3-2 away victory.
ReCat: Cat On A Hot Ten Roof - Litter Box Cats
The Panthers guaranteed that coach Gerard Gallant will coach the Atlantic Division team in the midseason classic with a 5-1 dusting of the Buffalo Sabres.
Big City Lights Blot Out Stars, Rangers Win 6-2 - Blueshirt Banter
The Rangers played a brilliant game against a formidable opponent and emerged victorious in a statement game.
Artemi Panarin snipes winner in 3-2 OT triumph - Second City Hockey
The Hawks have now won 11 of their past 15.
Parise's hat trick leads Wild over Blue Jackets 4-2 - Hockey Wilderness
Zach Parise scores. He even did it three times against the Blue Jackets Tuesday night to lead the Wild to a win in the last game of a long road trip
A victory with minimal drama - Broad Street Hockey
Returning home from their disastrous California road trip, the Flyers gave the Montreal Canadiens all that they could handle and skated away with a comfortable 4-2 victory.
To Beat A Predator(s) - Arctic Ice Hockey
"Why don't you take a seat over there?"
Women's Outdoor Classic: Two viewpoints
From the Editor's Desk: the NHL's laughable showcase of women's hockey - Five For Howling
The NHL did a horrendous job highlighting the potential of women's hockey in North America, and should be taken to task for it.
"The Best Christmas Gift Ever": Les Canadiennes Look Back At Women's Outdoor Classic - Eyes On The Prize
It was a late announcement, and wasn't televised but the outdoor game between Les Canadiennes and the Boston Pride made the players happy
Dallas Stars Announce Pevs Protects Night at the AAC, Release "Playing for Pevs" Online - Defending Big D
The Stars have released the heart-wrenching documentary "Playing for Pevs" online as well as announced an evening to honor his new charity initiative at the AAC.
Raffi Torres' return in doubt - Fear The Fin
Medical issues will likely keep Torres from returning on Jan. 14, when his suspension is complete.
Alain Vigneault's Comments On Lundqvist/Handing Of Etem Is Worrisome - Blueshirt Banter
Alain Vigneault seems to be deviating from past behaviors. To this point it hasn't been the best evolution.My hope for Hockey Analytics in 2016 | HockeyAnalysis.com
The ECHL - Premier 'AA' Hockey League | Gibson steps up in NHL debut
"I was nervous at the beginning for sure, but after a few shots and the goal, I said to myself that I have to step up now," he said. "Once I got calmed down a little bit, I told myself it’s time to play and that I’d worked hard for this opportunity, so it was time to show what I can do. I was happy with my third period."
Avalanche Claim Andrew Bodnarchuk - Mile High Hockey
AHL affiliate San Antonio currently sports three of Colorado's top defensive prospects: Nikita Zadorov, Chris Bigras, and Duncan Siemens. None have yet demonstrated consistent enough performance to warrant an NHL call-up. The Avalanche also don't want these guys missing playing opportunities to sit in a reserve role. So, they hopped back on the waiver wire and claimed Columbus defenceman Andrew Bodnarchuk.
Comparing Sullivan's start to past Penguins coaching changes - PensBurgh
From Therrien to Bylsma, from Bylsma to Johnston, and from Johnston to Sullivan. How does each change compare to the others? Which players have been the most affected?
The Drouin saga has a mirror in Lightning team history - Raw Charge
Issues came up in 1997-98 with the Bolts #5 overall draft pick from 1995, though circumstances with the club were profoundly different at the time.
The Senators Will End Up Selling Extremely Low On Jared Cowen - Silver Seven
The Senators have apparently seen enough of Jared Cowen, and will look to move him at some point. However, they will end up selling very low on him, when they could have gotten a real return not too long ago.
If Ken Hitchcock is fired, Doug Armstrong should go with him - St. Louis Game Time
Why fire the strategist and allow the recruiter of "not good enough" to continue? Fire them both.
Today in Edmonton Oilers History: January 5, 1983 - Wayne Gretzky Scores His 100th Point of the Season - The Copper & Blue
The Great One reaches the 100 point mark on this day in 1983.