General, Montreal Canadiens, NHL, Toronto Maple Leafs

Oh, Canada: How A Nation’s Two Banner Franchises, On Opposite Ends of the Standings, Can BOTH Be In Trouble Already

On the eve of their first meeting of the 2017/2018 regular season, the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs are both in trouble. Period. That the trouble doesn’t make itself smack-you-in-the-lips apparent, does not mean that the trouble isn’t there.

Let’s start with Montreal, where the problem IS smack-you-in-the-lips apparent: the Habs can’t score. They’ve generated four goals (aside from a Jonathan Drouin shootout winner) in four games — good for last in the NHL. For a short time, they shared that mark with San Jose; perhaps the worst thing about that being that San Jose had only played two games at the time. They would have needed to be shut out in back-to-back games for those numbers to remain the way they were.

Carey Price — in seasons past, playing well enough to mostly mask the Canadiens’ offensive struggles — has played more than a few steps behind by the numbers. In facing around 27 shots per game, Price has allowed 11 goals, sporting a 3.30 GAA and a save percentage of sub-.900. A markedly slow start for an all-world goaltender with a career GAA nearly a full point below where it currently sits.

What is painfully clear to Habs fans is this: when Price doesn’t play perfect hockey, the offense has not only not been able to bail them out. The offensive output thusfar has DEMANDED that Price play perfect hockey, which he has not done. As a result, Montreal is off to a 1-3 start and sit near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings.

On the other side, there are the young, run-and-gun Toronto Maple Leafs: 3-1, out to the early Atlantic division lead, and scoring at an incredible pace.

How can this team also be in trouble?

“Run-and-gun” was not a randomly-chosen phrase; the Leafs are nearly atop the league in goal-scoring, having netted 22 in four games (four more than the nearest Eastern Conference opponent). They are also tied for fourth place in terms of most goals allowed. It adds up to an AVERAGE of four goals allowed per game; indeed, the Leafs have played only one game where they have allowed fewer than three. On an offense that has already generated games of 8- and 7-goals, this may seem like less of a problem than Montreal’s inability to score. But what happens when the goals *aren’t* there?

When they aren’t there, the New Jersey game happens: a 6-3 loss to a team that they should beat, where they allowed twice as many goals as they scored, despite nearly doubling their opponent in shots.

Since the lockout-shortened 2012/13 season, teams that lead the league in goal scoring have averaged 3.29 goals per game. The 16/17 Penguins were the outlier, having averaged 3.43 last season. Toronto is currently averaging a ridiculous 5.5 goals per game — a pace that we know from empirical evidence is not sustainable. Not since the 2009/10 Capitals has a team even topped 3.5 over an entire season, and even that team did not come close to even a full 4.

If we are overly-friendly to this year’s Leafs, and meet in the middle between their current pace of 5.5 and the 2009/10 Capitals pace of 3.87, the Leafs would average 4.69 goals per game. If we reduce that number to the scoring leader’s average since the Lockout, it still sits at 4.4. Those paces would meet or exceed the highest in modern history — again, paces which we know are not sustainable in the modern NHL. While that may put a smile on the faces of Leafs Nation, don’t forget: Toronto is ALLOWING four per game. Therein lies the problem: the Leafs can’t keep the puck out of their own net; a persistent problem dating back well beyond this season.

Freddie Andersen has been, in a word, awful this season. Facing 31 shots a game (therefore getting little help from the team in front of him), Andersen has allowed all 16 of Toronto’s goals against, sitting with a GAA just under 4 and a save percentage barely north of .870. While the offensive players have enjoyed a banner year to this point, the defense has at times looked completely lost and hung their goaltender out to dry. By the same token, at times, the defense has mostly done their job, and Andersen has simply not been able to come up with saves. The Leafs are allowing far too many shots on their goaltender, and their goaltender is allowing far too many to light the lamp behind him.

So, the question is begged: which problem would you rather have?
Would you rather struggle to score goals, or score plenty and struggle to keep other teams from scoring as well?
More to the point: would you rather be Montreal or Toronto, RIGHT NOW?

My answer came in digging a little deeper.

As we have mentioned, Andersen (who has played every second of the Leafs season so far) has faced just over 31 shots per game, where Price has faced 27 (and if you add in the short amount of work for Montoya, the team allows 29 shots per game total so far). That’s not a big difference — but any good armchair GM would take the lesser of those two numbers.

Three of Toronto’s four games have seen them allow 30 shots — two of those, allowing at least 35. After allowing a ridiculous 45 shots in their opening game, Montreal has yet to allow another opponent to get to 26.

It may seem foolish to compare the two teams on any level offensively, but would it surprise you to learn that Toronto is only outshooting Montreal by less than three shots per game? While the Leafs average 41.5 shots per game, Montreal is within striking distance at 38.8. In this light, Montreal’s problem is less about generating offense, and more about finishing their opportunities. Montreal is shooting at a ridiculously-low 2.58% — lower than any roster player to score a goal for them last season aside from one (Alexei Emelin). Bringing their shooting percentage up to last season’s 9%, a pace of 38.8 shots/game results in 3.5 goals/game. Even halving that percentage would be an upgrade that could be worked with.

There are a few points to be made here. Neither team is as good or as bad as they seem, as we’ve traversed less than 5% of the regular season. The Leafs are not going to finish with 60 wins any more than the Habs will finish with 60 losses. And both teams have significant reason to be concerned, no matter what the early standings say.

As far as which problem I would rather have and which team I would rather be? I can say a few things for sure. Having a +6 goal differential after four games would be nice to have — except if it took me 22 goals to get there. I’d rather have to focus on finishing my own chances, than to worry about whether my goaltender is going to make the next save. I’d rather give up the fewest shots against that I possibly can, and I’d rather have nowhere but up to go, than nowhere but down.


2014 Winter Olympics Rosters – United States

Here is the roster for the United States for the Winter Olympics in Sochi:

Teams play in the National Hockey League (NHL) unless otherwise stated.

KEY: Player Name, Team, History At Olympics


David Backes, St. Louis Blues (2nd appearance – 6GP 1G 2A 2PIM)
Dustin Brown, Los Angeles Kings (2nd appearance – 6GP 0G 0A 0PIM)
Ryan Callahan, New York Rangers (2nd appearance – 6GP 0G 1A 2PIM)
Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks (2nd appearance – 6GP 3G 2A 2PIM)
Ryan Kesler, Vancouver Canucks (2nd appearance – 6GP 2G 0A 2PIM)
Phil Kessel, Toronto Maple Leafs (2nd appearance – 6GP 1G 1A 0PIM)
T.J. Oshie, St. Louis Blues (1st appearance)
Max Pacioretty, Montreal Canadiens (1st appearance)
Zach Parisé, Minnesota Wild (2nd appearance – 6GP 4G 4A 0PIM)
Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks (2nd appearance – 6GP 0G 3A 4PIM)
Paul Stastny, Colorado Avalanche (2nd appearance – 6GP 1G 2A 0PIM)
Derek Stepan, New York Rangers (1st appearance)
James van Riemsdyk, Toronto Maple Leafs (1st appearance)
Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets (1st appearance)


John Carlson, Washington Capitals (1st appearance)
Justin Faulk, Carolina Hurricanes (1st appearance)
Cam Fowler, Anaheim Ducks (1st appearance)
Paul Martin, Pittsburgh Penguins (1st appearance)
Ryan McDonagh, New York Rangers (1st appearance)
Brooks Orpik, Pittsburgh Penguins (2nd appearance – 6GP 0G 0A 0PIM)
Kevin Shattenkirk, St. Louis Blues (1st appearance)
Ryan Suter, Minnesota Wild (2nd appearance – 6GP 0G 4A 2PIM)


Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings (2nd appearance – OGP 0.00SV% 0.00GAA)
Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres (2nd appearance – 6GP 94.56SV% 1.35GAA)
Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings (1st appearance)

That Damn Hockey Blog

That Damn Hockey Blog: Captains, Brawls and Blues! Oh My!

Jamie Benn and Mark Giordano have been named Captains of the Dallas Stars and Calgary Flames respectively. They replace Brenden Morrow and Jarome Iginla, who were both traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins toward trade deadline last season.

Giordano, 29, becomes the 19th Captain in Calgary Flames franchise history, and will have Mike Cammalleri and Curtis Glencross as his Assistants, whereas Benn, 24, will be the sixth Captain since the Stars moved to Dallas in 1993, where Ray Whitney and Stephane Robidas will be the Assistant Captains.

How do you make pre-season exciting? Have a line brawl.
How do you welcome your brand new 5.5 million dollar contract with your new team? Get yourself suspended for ten games.

The Buffalo Sabres and the Toronto Maple Leafs decided that pre-season games were boring, and decided that an all-in brawl was the best way. It started when John Scott of the Sabres decided that he needed to stand up for his team-mate, Corey Tropp, was mis-matched in a fight with Leaf Jamie Devane and was going to fight the first person he saw after the faceoff. The Maple Leafs countered this, by trying to move the game on, by sending out their big guns, leaving franchise forward Phil Kessel to fight Scott. This started the brawl, which ended with Kessel showing off his wedge skills on Scott’s shin, Goalies Ryan Miller (Sabres) and Jonathan Bernier (Leafs) having a fight of their own, and David Clarkson, who signed from New Jersey in the off-season, came off the bench to get involved. This is a no-no, and coming off the bench in that nature, leads to an automatic 10-game suspension. Way to go Clarkson, way to gooooooo.

Oh, here’s the fight in question..

Brenden Morrow has signed a 1-year, 1.5 million dollar deal with Dallas Stars 2.0, the St. Louis Blues. Morrow joins former head coach Ken Hitchcock, former GM Doug Armstrong, VP of Business Operations Brett Hull, who scored the cup winning goal for the Stars’ 1999 Stanley Cup victory, and fellow off-season Free Agent signing Derek Roy, as former Dallas Stars applying their trade in St. Louis. Morrow looks like being a third-fourth liner for his new franchise.

Buffalo Sabres, Toronto Maple Leafs

Buffalo Sabres/Toronto Maple Leafs pre-season brawl

Rivalries.  You know you’re going to have an intense game when two teams who genuinely don’t like each other face off.

The Sabres and the Maple Leafs are rivals.  Only about a 90 minute drive separate First Niagara Center from Air Canada Center, and there are generally just as many Leafs fans at the FNC when the teams play each other there as there are Sabres fans.  So, you expect a fierce game when these two teams meet – but you generally don’t expect it in a pre-season game.

Jaime Devane and Corey Tropp decided to drop the gloves in the third period of Sunday night’s exhibition, which led to Tropp smashing the back of his head against the ice.  The Sabres sent out enforcer John Scott on the next play, who threatened to “jump” Phil Kessel – at least, that’s what Kessel says.

Here’s the video, I’ll update you on any discipline handed down by the NHL if I hear anything.

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2013-14 Season Schedule Released

With the announcement of NHL players being able to compete in the Winter Olympics in Sochi, the NHL released the schedule for the upcoming 2013-13 NHL season. This season will include the Winter Classic, which was cancelled last season due to the lockout, but will include the two teams that were meant to play in the Winter Classic, the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Also included are five more outdoor games as well as the Winter Classic. Ottawa and Vancouver will contest the 2014 Tim Horton’s NHL Heritage Classic, and the Coors Light NHL Stadium Series will be four matchups, involving the Anaheim Ducks against the Los Angeles Kings at Dodger Stadium, New York Rangers versus New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers versus New York Islanders, both taking place in Yankee Stadium and Pittsburgh Penguins vs Chicago Blackhawks at Soldier Field.

There will be a break from Feb 9-25, to make way for the Winter Olympics, where the majority of NHL players will be taking part.


Training Camp Opens — Wednesday, Sept. 11 2013

Exhibition Games Begin — Friday, Sept. 13

Regular Season Opens — Tuesday, Oct. 1

Hall of Fame Game — Friday, Nov. 8

Christmas Break — Tuesday, Dec. 24 – Thursday, Dec. 26

2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic — Tuesday, Jan. 1 2014

Hockey Day In Canada — Saturday, Jan. 18

NHL Stadium Series — Ducks @ Kings — Saturday, Jan. 25

NHL Stadium Series — Rangers @ Devils — Sunday, Jan. 26

NHL Stadium Series — Rangers @ Islanders — Wednesday, Jan. 29

NHL Stadium Series — Penguins @ Blackhawks — Saturday, March 1

2014 Tim Horton’s NHL Heritage Classic — Senators @ Canucks — Sunday, March 2

Olympic Break — Sunday, Feb. 9 – Tuesday, Feb. 25

Last Day of Regular Season — Sunday, Apr. 13

Stanley Cup Playoffs Begin — Wednesday, Apr. 16

For full schedule details, including team by team schedules, visit


New Division Names!!

Six divisions have now become four, as the NHL released the names of the new divisions, which will be in place starting from the 2013-14 season.

The Atlantic Division will consist of: Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Metropolitan Division will consist of: Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals.

The Central Division will consist of: Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues and Winnipeg Jets.

The Pacific Division will consist of: Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, Phoenix Coyotes, San Jose Sharks and Vancouver Canucks.

The Atlantic and Metropolitan divisions will make up the Eastern Conference, whilst the Central and Pacific will be the Western Conference. Detroit and Columbus are moving to the East, and Winnipeg is moving West. The schedule makes sure that all 30 teams will play in all 30 arenas at least once in the regular season.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs will still be made up of 16 teams, but qualifying for the dance has been modified. The top three from each division will automatically qualify, and the final four spots will be made up of ‘wild card’ teams from both conferences, regardless of division, meaning it is possible for one division to send five teams, and the other only send three to the playoffs.

The playoff seedings will still be based on points earned in the regular season. The winner of the conference, who will be the division winner with the highest points,  will face the wild-card team with the fewest points. Second in the conference, and the other division winner, will face the wild-card team with the second fewest points.

The four winners will advance on to play for a berth in the conference championship series, with the winner of the conference advancing to the Stanley Cup.


2013 NHL Entry Draft – By Team

Who did your team draft in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft? Find out by following the links below.


Anaheim Ducks
Calgary Flames
Chicago Blackhawks
Colorado Avalanche
Dallas Stars
Edmonton Oilers
Los Angeles Kings
Minnesota Wild
Nashville Predators
Phoenix Coyotes
San Jose Sharks
St. Louis Blues
Vancouver Canucks
Winnipeg Jets


Boston Bruins
Buffalo Sabres
Carolina Hurricanes
Columbus Blue Jackets
Detroit Red Wings
Florida Panthers
Montreal Canadiens
New Jersey Devils
New York Islanders
New York Rangers
Ottawa Senators
Philadelphia Flyers
Pittsburgh Penguins
Tampa Bay Lightning
Toronto Maple Leafs
Washington Capitals

Toronto Maple Leafs

2013 NHL Entry Draft – Toronto Maple Leafs

Here is a look at whom the Toronto Maple Leafs drafted in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, and also any trades they may have partaken in during the draft.

Round – Pick – Player Chosen (position in brackets) – Nationality – Junior/Club/College Team

1 – 21 – Frederik Gauthier (C) – Canada – Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)
3 – 82 – Carter Verhaeghe (C) – Canada – Niagara IceDogs (OHL)
5 – 142 – Fabrice Herzog  (RW) – Switzerland – Zug U20 (Junioren Elite A)
6 – 172 – Antoine Bibeau (G) – Canada – Prince Edward Island Rockets (QMJHL)
7 – 202 – Andreas Johnson (LW) Sweden – Frolunda J20 (SuperElit)


Toronto Maple Leafs acquire Dave Bolland (C) from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for 2013 2nd Rd pick, 2013 4th Rd pick and 2014 4th Rd pick

Chicago Blackhawks

2013 NHL Entry Draft – Chicago Blackhawks

Here is a look at whom the Chicago Blackhawks drafted in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, and also any trades they may have partaken in during the draft.

Round – Pick – Player Chosen (position in brackets) – Nationality – Junior/Club/College Team

1 – 30 – Ryan Hartman (RW) – United States – Plymouth Whalers (OHL)
2 – 51 – Carl Dahlstrom (D) – Sweden – Linkoping J20 (SuperElit)
3 – 74 – John Hayden (C) – United States – USA U-18 (USHL)
4 – 111 – Robin Norell (D) – Sweden – Djurgarden J20 (SuperElit)
1 – 121 – Tyler Motte (C) – United States – USA U-18 (USHL)
5 – 134 – Luke Johnson (C) – United States – Lincoln Stars (USHL)
6 – 181 – Anthony Louis (C) – United States – USA U-18 (USHL)
7 – 211 – Robin Press (D) – Sweden – Sodertalje (HockeyAllvenskan)


Chicago Blackhawks acquire 2013 2nd Rd pick, 2013 4th Rd pick and 2014 4th Rd pick from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for Dave Bolland (C)

Chicago Blackhawks acquire 2013 3Rd pick and 2013 5th Rd pick from the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for Michael Frolik (RW)

The UHF Tournament

The Ultimate Hockey Fighter Tournament – Semi Finals

Four Fighters. Three Matches. Two Finalists. One Ultimate Hockey Fighter.

Last week saw Rob Ray be the first finalist after defeating Stu Grimson.

This week, his opponent in the final will be decided!

Bob Probert
Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks
6’3″ 225 lbs
3×20 NHL Fights in a season
11×15 NHL Fights in a season
240 NHL Fights 15 FPY

Tie Domi
Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, Winnipeg Jets, Toronto Maple Leafs
5’10″ 207 lbs
6×20 NHL Fights in a season
11×15 NHL Fights in a season
278 NHL Fights 17.4 FPY

What happened when these two squared off:


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