News, Statistics, Trades, Rumors, Signings, Videos, Insight

Covering anything hockey but mostly stories involving my favourite team, the Toronto Maple Leafs. I try to update the blog every day or two and encourage comments and suggestions. Some of my influences are TSN's Darren Dreger and Bob McKenzie. Enjoy







Monday, February 15, 2010

Some interesting NHL statistics as the olympic break begins..

  • Plus/Minus leaders: 
- 6 of the top 10 +/- leaders are from Washington
- the top 4 are all from the Capitals
Top 5 
Alexander Ovechkin: +43
Jeff Shultz: +37
Nicklas Backstrom: +32
Mike Green: +28
Alexandre Burrows: +28
  •  Shorthanded goals:
- Marian Hossa leads with 5 despite only having played in 37 games this season
  •  Game winning goals:
- Daniel Sedin has won the game for his team with 7 of his 16 goals
  • Division Points:
- Despite being in probably the toughest division in the East, Crosby leads the NHL with 15 division goals and 30 points in 18 Atlantic division games.
  • Game misconducts:
- Alex Ovechkin is the only player to have had 2 game misconducts this year..
  • Hits:
- For the second consecutive year, Minnesota's 22 year old Cal Clutterbuck leads the NHL in hits with 252. Thats an average of 4.66 hits/game, almost a hit-per-game better than the next best hitter, Ryan Callahan.
- Clutterbuck, Callahan, Brooks Orpik and Dustin Brown have been 4 of the top 5 hitters for 2 years running.
  • Giveaways:
- 3 of the top 5 leaders in giveaways are Montreal Canadiens defencemen: Jaroslav Spacek (1st), Roman Hamrlik (2nd) and Hal Gill (5th).
  • Shots on goal:
- For all 5 years of Ovechkin's NHL career he has led the league in shots on goal, quite a feat..
- Ovie's 5.2 shots per game are down from last years 6.6, however his shooting percentage is up 4% from last season so he's making his shots more worthwhile.
-  Sidney Crosby is firing and average of 3.7 shots/game and has one of the leagues best shooting percentage at 18.6%. Crosby has not only benefited through more goals this season but his shooting success has risen by over 4% from his previous year's average.
- While Ovechkin is typically considered to be the best goal scorer in the league, his shooting numbers look less impressive than Crosby's this year.
  •  Time on ice:
- Ovechkin and Crosby have averaged an almost identical time-on-ice/game this season ranking 4th (21:51) and 5th (21:49) respectively in average ice time for forwards.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Phaneuf swagger and some Ovechkin..

The Dion Phaneuf swagger:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3W8lTZAslqw

Ovechkin's top 10 goals video I made last April:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HrckZNzSCjk

plus one more which would probably take over the number 4 spot:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-D4fBkdnoU

Monday, February 8, 2010

Team Canada Men's Olympic schedule

February 16 (Tuesday), 7:30 P.M.: Canada vs. Norway
    18 (Thursday) 7:30 P.M.: Switzerland vs. Canada
    21 (Sunday) 7:40 P.M.: Canada vs. USA
    23 (Tuesday) : Qualification Rounds (Top 4 teams receive a by)
    24 (Wednesday): Quarter-final rounds
    26 (Friday): Semi-final rounds
             
    27 (Saturday), 10 P.M.: Bronze-medal game
    28 (Sunday), 3:15 P.M.: Gold-medal game
-----------------------------------------------------------------------     
Predicted Quarter-final rounds:

Canada vs. Finland
USA vs. Czech Republic
Russia vs. Switzerland
Sweden vs. Slovakia

Predicted Semi-final rounds:

Canada vs. USA
Russia vs. Sweden

Predicted Gold-medal game:

Canada vs. Russia


more to come...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Brendan Burke...


Leafs GM Brian Burke's youngest son, Brendan was killed Friday following a car crash in Indiana.

I didn't even really know about the guy until his recent "coming out" as being gay. From what I heard from him in interviews at the time though, he seemed like a pretty legit guy who, like his dad,  had the hockey smarts to make a name for him self sometime in the National hockey league.

Tough loss for Brian..

Hopefully he can push through this and it may, in fact, motivate him more so to be the best GM he can be as I am sure it's what his son would have wanted..

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Phaneuf's going a bit too far saying the Leafs could still make the playoffs

"It's not over yet" says Phaneuf in regards to the leafs' playoff hopes. In an article from the Toronto Star, Phaneuf declared that the team can and should still make a push for the post-season and while I am a fan of the enthusiasm, it's much to late for a late-season surge.

According to sportsclubstats.com, a reliable playoff forecasting site which uses complex formulas to determine a team's chances of making it to the post-season, the Leafs' odds are at  0.06631%.... thats roughly 1 in 1500. To make it past the season's 82 games, the Leafs will need to play at a minimum of .800 for the remainder of the season to even have a shot. With 25 games left, the buds will have to put up W's in about 20 of those not to mention the 6 teams between them and 8th place will have to avoid any late surges as well.

I truly believe we are a much better team after the recent trades but winning 20/25 games?? Come on, thats not even plausible.

http://www.sportsclubstats.com/NHL.html

J.S. Giguere and why he is a major key to the Leaf's future

While every Leaf fan has been going off about how great the Phaneuf deal was and how key the 24 year old defenceman will be to the future of this team, Burke's brilliant trade for all-star goaltender J.S. Giguere is equally monumental if not more..

Anaheim parted ways with Giguere for 3 simple reasons:
- Jonas Hiller has been absolutely stellar in his first 3 years of NHL service and put on a spectacular display last spring helping the Ducks upset San Jose in the first round of the playoffs before almost eliminating the reigning Cup champion Detroit Red Wings.
- Giguere hasn't quite been on the ball for the past couple seasons and let his starting goalie role slip away
- With Hiller having recently resigned with the Ducks, there was no room for 2 high paid goaltenders so Giggy had to go

The Leafs have not had much success with goaltenders since the lockout as both Andrew Raycroft and Vesa Toskala failed to meet expectations and pretty well bombed in Toronto. So why should we expect Giguere to be any different?

Raycroft and Toskala were both relatively unproven goalies who appeared to have the potential for #1 netminder duties but when put to the test, proved otherwise. Giguere on the other hand is a proven number one goalie in the NHL, evidence by his solid and relatively consistent career numbers both regular and post-season. He is a Stanley Cup Champion (2006-07) as well as a Conn-Smythe trophy winner for MVP of the playoffs (2002-03). It should also be noted that these prestigious awards were gathered in 2 separate post-seasons which shows that Giguere is obviously a determined playoff performer who has the ability to go all the way. Such a resume is pretty hard to come by for a goalie who, at 32, is still in his prime and should have a lot more to offer.

As for the concern with his declining play over the past couple seasons, there shouldn't be much to worry about there. NHL players will have their up and down seasons.. look at other star goalies like Mikka Kiprusoff, Evgeni Nabokov or Backstrom. All are star level puck stoppers but hit a slump at some point or another in their careers. Giguere's career numbers have simply been to good to ignore and if you saw Tuesday's game vs. the Devils you'll have a pretty good idea how great the change of scenery has been for him.

Let's take a look at some of Giggy's career stats:
Regular Season
Career Save % - .913 (5th place all time!)
Career GAA - 2.51 (Top 25 all time)
Playoffs
Save % - .925
GAA - 2.08

- 2nd place among active goaltenders in career OT wins
-  4th most playoff wins among active goaltenders

If his season-by-season numbers are of any indication, Giguere should easily be capable of good enough play to earn his 6 million dollar paycheque and potentially take this team on a long playoff run in the next few years. He will be an excellent role model for young Jonas Gustavsson who should learn a lot from the veteran as well as taking a burden off his shoulders and providing some legitimate competition for playing time.

Giguere has many more productive years left in the tank and for the Leafs to have obtained an All-Star quality goaltender for almost nothing but a weak predecessor in Toskala and an aging, unproductive leukemia patient (Jason Blake) is a huge streak of luck for a Toronto squad dying for some better fortune.

Mark my words, Giguere is for real and his trade was probably the best one the Leaf's have made post-lockout.

- Scott Urquhart

Monday, February 1, 2010

6 players shipped out of Toronto in two huge trades Sunday.. Full analysis

  •  Toronto gets: D Dion Phaneuf, F Fredrik Sjostrom, D Keith Aulie and G Jean-Sebastien Giguere
  •  Calgary gets: F Niklas Hagman, F Matt Stajan, F Jamal Mayers and D Ian White 
  •  Anaheim gets: F Jason Blake and G Vesa Toskala
Lets take a look at the impact these trades will have on the Leafs:

Hagman and Stajan

Basically I think both trades are excellent moves for the Leafs for numerous reasons.

In the trade with Calgary, the leafs lose 2 top 6, but not necessarily hard to replace forwards in Hagman and Stajan, swap one checking line player (Mayers) for another in Sjostrom, and exchange the solid, fan favourite defenceman Ian White for a potential franchise defenceman, Dion Phaneuf.

Stajan and Mayers are pending UFA's so it's nice to be able to get some sort of a return for them and both were expected to be moved before March 3rd anyway. With Hagman we lose a small, yet strong-on-the-puck forward capable of 30 goals but he was never really a core piece to the rebuild and I knew even from his signing with back in 2008 that he could be trade bait in the future.

It's a little saddening to see White go after spending almost 5 seasons in Toronto but with a return like Phaneuf its good to see those 5 years add up to something.

I was pretty shocked when I heard that Jason Blake was headed out of Toronto after a few disappointing seasons.. After that first 15 goal season with the buds I thought we were stuck with his waste of cap space till 2012 but even after a more successful year last season I'm certainly happy to see him go.

As for Toskala, not much needs to be said.. He will be unrestricted at season's end either way and wouldn't have seen many more starts anyway. Just another one of Ferguson's old mistakes finally being cleaned up.

Now let's take a look at what the Leafs get back:

DION PHANEUF
Position: Defence
Age: 24
6'3", 214 Lbs.
Drafted 9th overall in 2003
Contract status: In 2nd of 6 year deal averaging $6.5M/year

After a strong rookie year in which he put up 20 goals and was nominated for the Calder trophy, many thought Phaneuf was a future Norris candidate and a core piece to the future of the Flames. A decline in his play over the past couple seasons coupled with the addition of Jay Bouwmeester to the Calgary blueline opened the door for a trade and this is the end result.
Phaneuf adds even more physicality to an already hard-hitting Leafs defence corps  as well as a booming shot and has already begun practicing alongside Beauchemin. His 125 hits this season are good for 12th place in the league amongst defencemen.

This trade opens the door for a possible Kaberle move as the leafs now have a league leading 43% of their cap space (almost 27 million) tied up on defencemen, over 10% more than the league average.

Despite what some are saying, Phaneuf is not going to be Toronto's next captain, along with Kessel he is a key building block to the Leafs future but we still lack that elite star forward. Whenever a blockbuster deal like this goes down it's never the random bits and pieces that the trade is remembered for, its the biggest player in the deal. Phaneuf is the real focal point of the trade and I am certain he will be a fan favourite in Toronto and a key contributor to their next cup run whenever that may be.

JEAN-SEBASTIEN GIGUERE
Position: Goalie
Age: 32
6'1", 201Lbs.
Drafted 13th overall in 1995
Contract status: In 3rd of a 4 year deal averaging $6M/year

After a great playoff run by Anaheim's backup, Jonas Hiller, followed by Giguere's less than stellar season thus far, he lost the starting role with the Ducks and subsequently became expendable. His career numbers are pretty good but the question at hand is whether or not he can regain his form in a new City and take the lowly leafs to the next level.

Giguere brings in a ton of NHL experience both regular season and playoff, and is poised to be the number one Toronto goalie for the near future. I had the opportunity to watch Giguere for a few years at the beginning of his career playing for the AHL's Saint John Flames (now the Abbotsford Heat) and he certainly has top-notch talent. He is a former Conn-Smythe trophy winner and Stanley Cup champion all with Anaheim and will be the definite #1 goalie in Leafland for the remainder of the season.

Despite his profusion of experience, "Jiggy" is only in his early thirties and should still have a lot to offer. He will serve as an excellent mentor to Gustavsson, whom Burke still believes is Toronto's goalie of the future.

- On a side note, Phil Kessel is no longer the highest paid Leaf and in fact, isn't even the number two. Phaneuf's cap hit of $6.5 million and Giguere's hit of $6M annually both surpass Kessel's $5.4M

FREDDY SJOSTROM & KEITH AULIE

After being drafted 11th overall by the Coyotes in 2001, Sjostrom hasn't quite put up the offensive numbers he was expected to but has since developed into a solid checking line forward thus fitting Burke's prerequisites. Aulie is a big 20 year old 6'6", 208 pound defender drafted by Calgary in the 4th round of 2007's NHL entry draft. He was part of Canada's 2009 World Junior gold medal winning team and could develop into a very intimidating shut-down defender for the Leafs in the next couple of years.

In conclusion, I think the Leafs come out as the winner's in both trades and have made a couple key moves towards becoming a legitimate playoff team once again.

DION PHANEUF, and other major changes in T.O.

Calgary trades Dion Phaneuf, Fredrik Sjostrom and prospect Keith Aulie to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for Niklas Hagman, Matt Stajan, Jamal Mayers and Ian White.

Goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere is traded to the Leafs from the Anaheim Ducks for Jason Blake and Vesa Toskala.

TSN story http://tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=308479

Full analysis coming soon..