Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Eulogy for the 2011-12 Toronto Maple Leafs

phil kessel sad
This season is dead. Officially killed on the March 27 by the Carolina Hurricanes in front of a sparse group of fans with nothing better to do than spend a couple hundred dollars on something that guaranteed no joy. A group with more money than sense. A group that saw itself reflected on the ice in many ways, but none more fitting than in apathy.

We gather here today to say goodbye to the 2011-12 Toronto Maple Leafs, a team that started with so much promise, but one which ends like all the others.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Ottawa Senators: Back from the Dead

Rebuilding is easy. Just look at St. Louis and Ottawa. Bad one year, amazing the next. It works that simply, so why is it taking forever in Toronto.

Those are the two most oft-cited examples of how a rebuild can happen overnight. Unfortunately, neither of those rebuilds happened overnight.

St. Louis was awful the first season after the lockout, finishing last in the Western Conference. The team took a step forward in 2006-07, finishing 10th in the West, although that progress was short-lived as the 2007-08 Blues finished second-last in the West. The Blues surprised in 2008-09, grabbing the No. 6 seed, but lost in the first round to Vancouver. Instead of linearly progressing in the next two seasons, the Blues actually finished with less points in each successive season.

Now after six seasons, five of which were spent outside of the playoffs, and two of which ended in lottery picks, the Blues are the class of the NHL. That hardly resembles a rebuild overnight.

In Ottawa's case, there has hardly been any rebuild at all. The team that is currently fighting for the Northeast Division title is largely the same team that finished in a lottery position last year. It's not even because the spirit of Mike Green took over Erik Karlsson's body. Don't believe me? Read today's post at The Good Point.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Ruler's Back

sidney crosby injury
The league's hottest team just got back the league's best player. The Pittsburgh Penguins have won 10 games in a row, 13 of their last 15, and now have Sidney Crosby back in the lineup to go alongside MVP candidate Evgeni Malkin.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Definitive Depressing Post-Lockout Moments

leafs fan waiting for cup
The first ever joke on the Internet. Still painfully relevant.
A season that started off with so much promise is over. The remaining 13 games are a formality, a cruel joke to Leafs fans who believed this team would truly contend for a playoff spot this season.

The season was massacred by a classic Leafs death spiral that has seen the team win twice in the last 16 games, earning themselves a total of six points in the process. All hope is gone. The season is over. If you haven't checked out yet I admire your resolve.

There's a lot of negativity surrounding the team right now and I try my very best to stay optimistic, but sometimes it's nice to wallow in some self pity and soak in negativity. Think of this as an exercise in letting go of some negative feelings this team has caused you. Or use this to get sadder and let out a good cry. After that you won't feel anything anymore!

I present to you the Definitive Depressing Post-Lockout Moments.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Positives and Negatives of Plus/Minus

Just a couple of nerds.
Sports aren't just for jocks anymore: the nerds are taking over. The nerdification of sports has become so mainstream that Brad Pitt starred in a baseball movie about stats, not baseball. Thank Moneyball.

After reading Moneyball a few years ago I began to heavily read about sabermetrics and became a full-blown disciple of Bill James. For my upcoming fantasy baseball draft I've been looking at advanced stats to see who is likely to regress and who is the real deal. I'm really nerding out and loving every minute of it. I still have to make notes to myself reminding me not to draft B.J Upton, because no matter what some stats say, there are still some players that draw me in. Likewise, I will select multiple Blue Jays way before any sane person would select them, but the heart wants what the heart wants.

My love of advanced stats has only somewhat transferred over to hockey, and my knowledge is still very much in its infancy, but I am trying to incorporate more than just goals and assists into my evaluation of players. I find I spend much more time scanning before writing a post that either trashes or praises a player because I don't want the nerd squad to throw someone's corsi rating in my face.

As my search to cram my head with more hockey knowledge than useful life skills continues, I've taken a bit of a harder look at some traditional stats that I was once willing to accept. One of the primary stats I've grown skeptical of is plus/minus, which I previously used to solely inform my opinions about a player's defensive worth. However, I'm not ready to totally disregard plus/minus, which might brand me a leper among the fancy staters, but I don't care.

Today's post at The Good Point looks at the situations when plus/minus can be informative, as well as when it is absolutely worthless.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Making it Rain: Grabovski Gets Paid

mikhail grabovski leafs
The Leafs locked up one of their most important players on Tuesday. Mikhail Grabovski signed a five-year, $27.5 million contract, forgoing unrestricted free agency where he would have been the only real option at centre for many teams. Grabovski and his agent were pushing for six or seven years, which would have likely lowered the cap hit slightly, but the Leafs would not budge from five years.

The initial reaction from most parts—aside from a few, such as CBC's Elliotte Friedman—is that the deal is too much money. Grabovski is now the highest paid forward on the Leafs, $100,000 more than Phil Kessel.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Wilson Gone, Lost Looking for Defensive Zone

randy carlyle leafs
The fans wanted it, and the fans got it. Chants of 'FIRE WILSON' rang loudly earlier in the week against the Panthers, the only life in the ACC after two quick goals against sucked any sort of interest right out of the crowd.

Brian Burke has finally fired Ron Wilson, although the inevitable might be too late for the Leafs to still make the playoffs. The team is only five points out, and the Eastern Conference is truly horrible, but the Leafs need to go on quite a run to end the season to make it happen.

The man brought in to lead the charge is a man known quite well to Burke, Randy Carlyle, the former Anaheim Ducks coach who was fired earlier in the year after a pitiful start to the season.
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