Bad thing: the Leafs have been injured a lot this year.
Good thing: they’ve had some impressive contributions from the likes of Pierre Engvall and now Rasmus Sandin.
Bad thing: even when healthy the Leafs are weak on defense.
Good thing: they have two young, cheap and potentially very good prospects on defense in Sandin and Liljegren right on the cusp of making the NHL full-time.
Bad thing: Freddie hasn’t been great and they don’t really have a viable backup to take more games off his plate while the Leafs are also trying to fight back into a playoff spot.
Good thing: the Rangers are willing to trade Alexander Georgiev and I hear they’re willing to be very reasonable about what they want in return.
Bad thing: No matter what the Leafs decide to do down the stretch to improve the team, the Leafs are very shy on cap space and assets they can spend that won’t make their roster weaker somewhere else.
Good thing: Uh... get back to me on that.
For real though, the Leafs roster ain’t perfect — even when healthy. But most of their issues this year have had to do with health and inconsistent play from guys who you would expect to be better. Some of them, like Marner and Tavares, eventually got healthy and have more or less returned to form. Others, like Rielly or Andersen, have shown flashes but have been really up and down. Thankfully they still have time to find their game, especially after a mental break this bye week.
Also thankfully, the Leafs have a very smart front office of scouts, analysts, and capologists. They have young guys ready to come up and make an impact. They have some time to get healthy and get better. It’s still going to be tough for them to claw back into a playoff spot, but they have the pieces and the people to do it.
I can say this safely because they don’t play for a week and by the time they come back everyone (including me) will likely forget this optimism.
ONTO THE LINKS
Back to Excited Episode 89 - Goalie Troubles | by Arvind and Fulemin
Speaking of... The Maple Leafs are interested in Alexandar Georgiev. But how much can they justify giving up? | by James Mirtle at The Athletic
Andersen, ‘immature’ Maple Leafs must look in mirror during bye week | by Luke Fox at Sportsnet
Leafs receive ‘reality check’ before bye week | by Kristen Shilton at TSN
Some Leafs prospects are what’s getting me through this Leafs’ slump, namely Nick Robertson and Mikhail Abramov. Robertson had 2 goals, 2 assists, and 10 shots on goal over 2 weekend games, including this beauty goal on Sunday:
Mikhail Abramov had his point streak broken over the weekend, but had this penalty shot goal on Sunday:
Unfortunately the Marlies are slumping just as bad as the Leafs, if not worse. Then again they’ve had their roster pilfered of Engvall, Brooks, Liljegren, Sandin, and Marincin — basically their two best centers and three best defensemen. Oh, and their head coach in Sheldon Keefe. Here’s what the new coach had to say about Sunday’s loss:
AROUND THE HOCKEY WORLD
Sarah Nurse is the best Nurse don’t @ me
"It's cool because there's that respect level for being a hockey player... not a female hockey player, not a male hockey player, just a hockey player."— Rogers Hometown Hockey (@hometownhockey_) January 20, 2020
Before making her way to St. Louis for #NHLAllStar, @nursey16 joined @RonMacLeanHTH and @TaraSlone in Ancaster tonight. ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/NkkzaZkxwV
Justin Williams returned to game action for Carolina and of course scored the shootout winner vs the New York Islanders.
Justin Williams. 8th round of the shootout. Of course.— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) January 20, 2020
Hurricanes beat the Islanders 2-1 in a marathon shootout, Williams scores the deciding goal in his first game of the season. A big home ice divisional win for the Canes. pic.twitter.com/cwtMQM91eb
You hate to see it... Bruins blow three-goal lead, fall to Penguins 4-3 in Pittsburgh | by Stanley Cup of Chowder.
Alex Ovechkin scored back to back hat tricks over the weekend, which put him past Mario Lemieux and in a tie with Steve Yzerman in all time NHL goals.
Let’s end this FTB on a fun note with a Joel Champagne sighting!
While using @eliteprospects I randomly noticed a sidebar that showed the top 5 scoring leaders in France.— Nick Robert-stan (@brigstew86) January 20, 2020
The #1 leader with 50 points in 33 games was former Leafs prospect and causer of a @PPPLeafs shitstorm, Joel Champagne!
It's hilarious on so many levels. pic.twitter.com/nmNN8XdWGF
Have a great Monday everyone!
What should Dubas and co. prioritize ahead of the trade deadline?
This poll is closed
Improve the defense
Improve the goaltending
Improve the offense (lol)
Sit tight and sort out the roster they have