Everything Else

There is some metaphor or symbolism or word we use a lot that we don’t really know the meaning of in the signing of Tyler Bozak by the Blues from the Maple Leafs being immediately overshadowed by the acquisition of Ryan O’Reilly. Because Bozak has always been his best when concealed by others.

Bozak took a lot of shit in Toronto before the arrival of Auston Matthews (known as 1 A.A. in Ontario). He was Phil Kessel‘s running buddy, and seeing as how Kessel was reviled by Leafs fans for scoring a lot of goals, being American, and calling the press out on their bullshit, Bozak suffered some of the blowback from that.

Bozak was never a #1 center. It wasn’t his fault that the Leafs failed to produce another in his time there until Matthews. But there is a lot of media in T.O., and just about all of it wanted to score points by pointing out the obvious, that Bozak wasn’t a #1 center. And the more people say it, the more people believe that he was supposed to be. And then it looks like something was wrong with him, instead of the organization that didn’t equip itself properly to get him slotted correctly.

There was nothing about Bozak’s pedigree that suggested he should be even a #2 center in the league. He wasn’t drafted. He was in the Canadian college system, which is a bad place to be, hockey-wise. He had two middling years at Denver University. But because they have to talk about something in Toronto 24/7, calling him out filled the dead air.

When Matthews arrived, suddenly Bozak had the shelter he needed. It also helped that Nazem Kadri turned into one of the more effective and obstreperous checking centers in the game. Before all that, Bozak routinely started over half his shifts in the defensive zone. The past two seasons in Toronto that number dropped to 47% and then 42%. More importantly, his quality of competition dropped as well. Bozak saw less time on the ice, but he scored more, or at more of a rate, that is. Two years ago, his 55 points were a career-high. He backed that up with 43 points last year.

Bozak’s relative-Corsi to the rest of the Leafs was the highest of his career last year at +4.5%. But Bozak has always been a good to very good possession player, being positive in relative terms five of the past six seasons.

So now he’s in St. Louis, and it looks another sweetheart situation for him. Brayden Schenn does the top-line anchoring. Ryan O’Reilly is around to do the mine-sweeping of the hardest competition, or so you would think. Bozak gets to clean up the rest, and he gets to do it with a lot less noise in the way as was the case in Hockey Capital.

And once again, the Blues signed him to a pretty reasonable deal. $5 million is a decent chunk of change, but hardly revolutionary, and it’s only for three years which will take Bozak to his 35th birthday. Makes you wonder why the Hawks were on the sidelines, and/or so clingy about Artem Anisimov.

The Blues went from having Kyle Brodziak drooling on the second line at times last year to perhaps the best center-depth in the division behind the Jets. It’s clearly a go-for-it-now shift in Missouri, as it probably should be. They’ve been hanging around for just about 10 years now, and really have only taken one glimpse at a conference final.

Funny what a sense of urgency can do, huh?

 

Game #2 Preview Suite

Preview

Spotlight

Q&A

Douchebag Du Jour

I Make A Lot Of Graphs

Lineups And How Teams Were Built

Everything Else

Chris Gift usually dances for nickels on the side of I-55, after a successful career as cod piece cleaner for various hair-metal bands in the 80’s. He also contributes to St. Louis Gametime. Or he used to We’re not sure and we’re definitely sure we don’t care. He’s at Twitter @ChrisGift.

Signing Tyler Bozak and trading for Ryan O’Reilly. What got up Doug Armstrong’s ass?

We’ve learned to have disdain for ownership groups, regardless of sport. Look at your group of owners in Chicago without the last name of Ricketts. Reinsdorf, Wirtz (ok, Rocky is much better than Bill was), McCaskey, and whoever owns the Fire probably aren’t the most popular folks in town, and with the ton of cash that each team makes, the amount of frugality that owners have is shocking at times.

Blues Chairman Tom Stillman isn’t like that. Since he took over for Dave Checketts in 2012, Stillman has been in on, or attempted to be as active as possible in making the team Cup contenders. His first acquisition was rolling the dice on pending UFA Jay Bouwmeester from Calgary and getting him to sign a deal before he hit the open market. Tthen there was acquiring Ryan Miller from Buffalo, and also getting Paul Stastny from Enos Kroenke’s Denver  Avlanches  – speaking of disdain for ownership groups.  The key sticking point of the O’Reilly deal was the $7.5 million roster bonus ROR was due on July 1st. To paraphrase Armstrong, he called Stillman, said he needed $7.5 million and before Armstrong could even get to the first word of the next sentence explaining it was for ROR, Stillman told him “no problem.” Stillman has deep pockets, and his minority  owners have deeper pockets.

Last year’s pfffft of a season, and the undefeated Father Time approaching on some of the core may have been the kick in the ass that did it for Armstrong and ownership. What really got us was the decision to finally cut bait with Patrik Berglund. More accurately, I think the surprise is that Army found a way for a team to take two God awful contracts (Vlad Sobotka’s contract blew as well as Berglund’s) and get more in return than the bag of pucks that we all anticipated.

Slowly but surely the team’s core has both aged and turned over. Berglund, TJ Oshie, David  Backes, Jerry Halak and Brian Elliott are all gone. Bouwmeester is 35. Alexander Steen is 34. Even some of the “younger” player are starting to get a tad longer in the tooth. Alex Pietrangelo is 28 already. Jaden Schwartz and Vlad Tarasenko are 26. There’s a window for winning with this team, not gaping because of the strength of Winnipeg and Nashville, but there’s definitely a window.

The O’Reilly rumors flew around all season last year, but not just in St. Louis. When the draft came and went, and there was no movement on the ROR front, we thought it was on life support at best. When Bozak and David Perron signed on July 1, and the sun set that night, we thought that was it. Then the “holy shit,” moment happened to see ROR coming to St. Louis. It went from a  plain “holy shit” comment to being capitalized, underscored, boldfaced and whatever the fuck else you do to show exhilaration and joy and when the news of Buffalo’s return on the trade included taking Berglund and Sobotka. It had to be a total Andy Dufresne celebrating freedom in raw sewage and a thunderstorm by escaping Shawshank for Armstrong. Tage Thompson is an above average prospect that needs to mature mentally and physically and eat a TON of wings from the Anchor Bar. The Blues were touting Thompson, Jordan Kyrou, Robert Thomas, and Klim Kostin as the organization’s four best prospects. To acquire talent, two shitty contracts and two draft picks wasn’t going to do it. One of the four had to go. Thompson was the only one with NHL experience. With first round pick Dominik Bokk, and Erick Foley (acquired for Stastny) being added to the prospect reservoir, it was adios Tage.

 

Why is Jake Allen still here and still starting?

Wait, you don’t call him Jay Gallon anymore?

If this was the olden days, and twitter was limited to 140 characters, the answer would be something like “Carter Hutton was too expensive. Ville Husso isn’t ready yet. Jordan Binnington isn’t good enough to play in the NHL, and warts and all, Jake isn’t awful.”

Allen has his flashes of total consciousness, but there are also times when he looks absolutely lost. Ken Hitchcock damn near ruined him with his mental games a few years ago and Marty Brodeur worked with him to get his shit straight.  Both of those guys are gone now, so Hitch can’t fuck him up any more and Brodeur can’t pull the insta-fix anymore (something tells me that in the goaltending brotherhood, that an off the record text message or tip from MB30 is never going to happen).

Counting OTLs as losses, he was 27-28 with a 2.75 GAA last year. Mike Yeo  had to go to the bullpen far too often. Granted the relief was damn good in Hutton,  and Chad Johnson is nowhere the backup that Hutton was. There will be nights this year when it is 10 minutes in and the team is down 3-0, and it’ll be Jake’s game, like it or not.

The Blues look a little short on the wings as far as scoring. Tell us why we’re wrong. Only about this and not life, please.

Writing this prior to the season opener against Winnipeg, all is wonderful. Tarasenko is going to score 40 by Christmas. Pat Maroon will put up video game numbers and be the toughest power forward  player this town has seen since Brendan Shanahan.

To use coach speak, the sum is probably greater than the whole of the parts. Bozak, Perron and ROR will make the power play better (it finished 29th a year ago).Having ROR, Brayden Schenn and Bozak in the middle on the top three lines is a scoring luxury. Plus, the fourth line isn’t going to be the typical  knuckle dragging Neanderthal,  an AHL player playing over his head,  and a Kyle Brodziak type grinder. Think youth and speed on the fourth line this year. The fourth line is scheduled to be  Ivan Barbashev, Thomas, and  Sammy Blais, to start the year. Two players coming off pretty serious injuries  hope to crack the top 12 at some point this season if healthy. Acquired from Washington for Kevin Shattenkirk,  shoulder surgery kept Zach Sanford  out of everything but the first shift of the first day of training camp in the fall of 2017. And don’t forget  Robby Fabbri who managed have two ACL surgeries since just after the Winter Classic in 2017. Fabbri’s knees seem to be fine this camp, but he’s having a hard time with nagging injuries like hips and backs from getting back into hockey shape. Arrmstrong has mentioned November for Fabbri.  Both Sanford and Fabbri can play, and play really well if healthy. If healthy. If healthy .

There’s scuttlebutt that at some point this season, Steen may move to the fourth line if one of the aforementioned youngins’ makes strides to capture top-nine minutes. Steen on the PP, PK and fourth line may be just about right for this point of his career.

This is clearly a go-for-it year for the Blues. Can they really overcome the Preds or Jets?

Funny way of asking for a prediction. The offseason has been very optimistic around these parts, but the reality is that there was a ton of work to do before being able to be on par with the Preds or Jets. Have they done it? I’m not sure, but I’d like to think so. Seeing ROR for a season instead of twice a year will be nice, but he was a good player on a shitty team. Can he be a great player on a good team? Can Allen give a solid season without drama or injury or having will Yeo have to try  to make the best out of a few weeks of Chad Johnson?

The defense is awfully thin. Pietrangelo, Colton Parayko, Joel Edmundson and Robert Bortuzzo are all solid. How much does Bouwmeester have left? Can Vince Dunn have as good of a sophomore season as his freshman year? Is Carl Gunnarson going to be healthy enough to not be a liability out there, or can Jordan Schmaltz mature into a top-six D this year. Chris Butler looked overmatched out there last season, and the team is damn near capped out, so making a big acquisition to help the defense will take some salary cap magic to work.

Worst case scenario, I can’t  see the Blues finishing in anything lower than third in the division. Even if they play great and finish second, they’ll still have to go through both the Jets and  Nashville to make it to the Conference Final. That’ll require a hell of a lot of good play and good fortune to beat both  of those teams in the playoffs.

My guess is they have a hell of a first round series that they might win. That series will probably tax them to the point that there’s nothing left against the other divisional heavyweight and they bow out in the second round.

Now with all that piss and vinegar of a prediction,  this edition of the Blues  has the most talent since the ’16 team that beat Chicago and Dallas before losing to San Jose in five games.. As unpredictable as hockey in general, and this league in particular can be, I don’t think  a Conference Final run or a Western Conference title is out of the question.

 

Game #2 Preview Suite

Preview

Spotlight

Q&A

Douchebag Du Jour

I Make A Lot Of Graphs

Lineups And How Teams Were Built

Everything Else

Every season we hear that. And sometimes, I’m suckered into believing it. And I think this year more than most. And then I remember it’s the St. Louis Blues, and it can’t possibly be true. Maybe one day the laws of the universe will change, and we’ll all feel even more unmoored than we do now. But until that happens, the only structure we have that keeps us from unending madness is the rules we’ve always known. And one of those is that the Blues will always fuck it up. They will never get out of their own way. Until they do, we cannot reason anything else. Were we to, we would simply bend the world in a way it was not meant to go and the pillars of society and life would indeed crumble and all there would be is chaos and limitless abyss.

What’s dispiriting though is that the Blues this past summer showed the urgency that we ached for the Hawks to show. They knew they were weak down the middle, so in came Ryan O’Reilly and Tyler Bozak. Those were two players we wished the Hawks would make a run at. The Blues didn’t hang on to prospects that looked like they had over-ripened. So away went Tage Thompson and a couple high draft picks, because now is the time for the Blues. We stared at Dylan Sikura’s vacant gape on its way to Rockford. They treated missing the playoffs last year like an insult and something to be eradicated immediately and thoroughly. The Hawks signed Cam Ward and Brandon Manning. You see the problem here.

Anyway, let’s get in up to the elbow, which if you do in St. Louis leaves you with tuberculosis.

2017-2018: 44-32-6 94 points  226 GF 222 GA 51.7 CF% 51.4 xGF% 7.1 SH% .928 SV%

Goalies: And yet it doesn’t matter how you redo your bedroom or living room of your house if you keep introducing various insects and rodents and sharp weapons to your foundation. So here we are again with Jay Gallon in net. The Blues are so determined to make it work with him for the 24th year in a row that it’s gone beyond Tin Cup hitting his ball from the fairway instead of taking a drop. Except this might be the time the Blues run out of balls in the bag.

Jake Allen was bad last year. .906 SV% is bad. Carter Hutton was better. And yet it’s Carter Hutton who goes, just like any other goalie that’s dared to play alongside Allen. He can’t be moved. He’s a southern congressman at this point. No amount of incompetence or bewildering actions will ever remove him.

Allen has been above-average in exactly one of his now five NHL seasons. At this point the Blues must know what he is, which is not enough. It’s not that the physical tools aren’t there. They most certainly are. He’s big, he’s athletic. But he’s always going to do just enough to kill you. Shame they put in all this work to end up where they always do. Really is.

Anyway, backing him up this time around with certainly an eye on usurping him is Chad Johnson. Johnson was woeful in Buffalo last year but serviceable or more in Calgary the year before that and Buffalo again two years ago. Maybe Johnson is just non-threatening enough to get Allen to relax while being able to take 15-20 starts without throwing up all over everyone. I don’t know. But this looks to be Problem Area #1 again for St. Louis, who just seemingly never learn. This time it will be different.

Defense: I don’t know how many different ways we can phrase this for however many years, but the Blues defensive unit just isn’t as good as “experts” will tell you. Alex Pietrangelo somehow conned the world into thinking he’s a Norris-level defender–probably by being big, a decent skater, and Canadian–but that’s utter horseshit. He’s fine. He’s there against the best competition, but he doesn’t roll them over. He never has. He’s a rhythm guitarist miscast playing solos. And paring him with Joel “Assuredly Has Had A Bug Caught In His Ear Before” Edmundson isn’t going to change that.

Colton Parayko is the only puck-mover they have, and his game in his own zone is somewhere around DEFCON Dumbass. I still don’t know what it is Carl Gunnarsson does, and neither do they. Jay Bouwmeester is dead, has been dead, will continue to be dead, and the Blues will continue to play him more minutes until even the worms peaking out from his eye sockets ask to be left alone finally. Vinnie Dun (HEY GABBAGOOL! VINNE DUNN OVA’ HERE!) could be another puck-mover they need, but Mike Yeo apparently can’t escape the stench of Ken Hitchcock and still won’t trust him with more than 13 minutes per night.

It’s probably not as bad as we make out, but it’s certainly nowhere near great. Considering the crops of forwards one sees most nights in the Central, that’s an issue. This time it will be different.

Forwards: Ok, so the center-depth is greatly improved. Brayden Schenn was a steal from Philly, and now they’ve added Bozak and O’Reilly. Bozak really flourished behind Matthews and Kadri in Toronto, and here he’ll get to be behind ROR and Schenn. It’s really a swift move.

However, looking deeply at it now and the winger situation….ooooh boy. Vladimir Tarasenko will still score a ton, whether running with Schenn or O’ Reilly. Jaden Schwartz is still their most creative player. Fabbi Robbry or Robbry Fabbi is back from injury, providing more dash. But that’s just about it. They’re brought back David Perron, and they’re going to have a quizzical look on their face in January when he’s on the bottom six with 17 points and taking the most mystifyingly dumb penalties imaginable. Alex Steen was in need of hospice care at the end of last year and that’s not going to get better now. Patrick Maroon is here, which is just so St. Louis Blues I don’t think I can stand it. It’s a less than impressive group, so the centers and Tank are going to have to have premium years.

Outlook: Overall, they’re just a touch short of Nashville and Winnipeg. But they’re pretty much ahead of everyone else in the division, which sets them up to get thwacked by one of the aforementioned in the first round. Same as it ever was. The wingers don’t look like they provide enough, the defense is slowish and not all that skilled, and even if those things reverse there’s always Jay Gallon walking around with his gasoline can, a book of matches, and a vacant look in his eye. They made the right moves this summer. They just didn’t make enough of them.

This time it will be different…it was ever thus.

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Everything Else

I can’t believe I’m about to write any of this.

Tyler Bozak used to be a joke in the NHL. That’s probably giving him the best of it. He was among the best pieces of satire and a huge piece of evidence of what was wrong with the Leafs, the league, and quite possibly the world itself. This is back when the Leafs were using Bozak as a #1 center and he held onto it by basically being Phil Kessel’s buddy, whom everyone hated anyway. So naturally, the knives, pitchforks, torches, and trained badgers were all out for Bozak for years in Toronto and he didn’t even sell the hot dogs. He was basically blamed for all he wasn’t, which was all the #1 centers Leafs fans just assumed would come traipsing into Toronto because no one would ever want to play anywhere else, of course. Leafs fans have never gotten around the truth that most every player would rather gnaw their own balls off instead of ply their trade in front of that baying horde of fuckwits who will curse out the player’s ancestors the minute they turn the puck over in a preseason game against Ottawa.

BUT THAT’S NOT WHY YOU CALLED.

Anyway, Mike Babcock arrived and after exclaiming, “Just what the fuck have they been doing with this guy?!” got Bozak some proper usage. And then Auston Matthews arrived, slotting Bozak perfectly behind him and checking center Kadri. And lo and behold, for about three seasons now, Bozak has been a really effective player.

On Toronto’s third line for the past two seasons, Bozak has paired with JVR to form a pretty in-your-face weapon. Bozak piled up 55 points two seasons ago, dropped to 43 this year which can almost be solely attributed to his SH% cratering from 12.1% in ’16-’17 to just 7.1% last year. Bozak is a career 13.8% shooter, so even the mark from two years ago is low. All that considered, you can basically bank on Bozak giving you around 18 goals and around 35 assists and that’s a 50-point player and yeah, you take that below your #1 center.

Metrically, Bozak has been kick-ass for three seasons as well. Since Babs showed up and quickly declared him not a #1 center, Bozak had a +4.5% Corsi-relative last year, +1.4% the year before that, and +3.8 the year before that. But this is where the caveats come running in from behind the stove, waving their arms in protest.

There’s no point in signing Bozak unless you’re going to try and mimic the usage he’s had lately at the ACC. Bozak and JVR have started a majority of their shifts the past two years in the offensive zone. When Bozak has been asked to start more shifts in his own end than the other, it has not gone well, save for the Season-In-A-Can of 2013 where basically nothing made sense and God took his leave of all of us (I mean, I was even happy then). Granted, those were worse Leafs teams than these current ones, but it’s best to view Bozak as an offensive weapon and not much else.

Which makes him a tough fit here, even if you could make the money work (we’ll get to that) and pair him with his running buddy JVR. Because those “hammock” shifts have to go to Nick Schmaltz, who weighs 89 pounds. You can’t ask Schmaltz to start more in his own end to accommodate Bozak, because that’s going to devolve into recess time at that hippie preschool down the street. And if you’re going to consign Toews and whoever’s with him to the dungeon all season, you’re probably not going to get first line production out of that unit. Again.

Still, if you could only slightly tilt Bozak’s zone-starts and assignments toward the harder and slightly farther from the other goal, you can probably get away with it. It would be a delicate balance.

The problem is what he’s going to cost, and this is the same problem a team would have with Paul Stastny. Whatever team doesn’t get Tavares is going to feel a need to sign any center to make themselves feel better as they hug their John Tavares-adorned pillows at night. He seems gone out of Toronto, but you could easily see San Jose or Dallas wanting to slot him behind Thornton or Seguin or another team behind whoever else. Which means he’s probably getting more than the $4.2M he just had in Toronto.

Trying to find comps are hard. Kadri’s $4.5M would almost certainly barely be a starting point. He could easily make a case for Derek Stepan’s $6.5M, which is right out. Kyle Turris just signed for $6.0M per year, and honestly his numbers aren’t that much better than Bozak’s (which makes it all the more funny). If there’s any kind of competition for his services, $5.5M seems like the low end and somewhere north of $6.0 seems possible.

If the Hawks could get him between $5-5.5, I’d be inclined to give in a whirl, along with shipping out Anisimov’s bloated ass to the first port that’ll have him. Also, Bozak wins a ton of faceoffs which makes Q’s mustache flutter even if it isn’t that important, and Bozak is more mobile than Arty. You get a shooting spike with him and you’ll get the same 20 goals that you would from Arty, with far better playmaking. Yeah, the Schmaltz-Bozak Usage Conundrum (St. Vincent’s next album) is a concern, but isn’t that why Quenneville is the richest coach in the league?

Everything Else

We can’t give you his name, as he’s shrouded in secrecy. He used to run PensionPlanPuppets, but now he just sits in a dark room plotting his revenge. You can follow him @MLSE, if you dare. 

We’ll start with simple stuff: Just what the hell is going on with this team? 
They’re doing better than last year somehow (better goal differential and more points through the same number of points) but most fans aren’t happy with how they’ve done it. Last year’s team was a swashbuckling team of kids that played with no fear. This year’s team is now a chip and chase team that is more focused on stopping the other team than in trying to force the game on their terms.
Is Mike Babcock, in fact, not a genius?
Babcock is an incredible coach. He does, however, have a few blind spots that we knew from his time in Detroit. Mainly, it’s that he favours (don’t you dare “fix” my Canadian spelling) veterans over youth and he has a clear idea of how he wants different aspect of his team to be built (muckers on the fourth line, defencemen with cement-filled skates that can absorb shots on the PK). Randy Carlyle was a little similar in that regard but obviously with a lot less ability (his own and the team’s). It does look like Babcock is starting to come around. Travis Dermott finally got a shot, Matt Martin may finally be a scratch, and Leo Komarov will be on the fourth line instead of dragging down Marleau and Kadri. Of course, that’s just for road games because Babcock doesn’t have last change. And it’s that need to control every aspect of the game that I think is his biggest issue.
What are the Leafs going to do at the deadline? We have to believe a d-man is on the list, no?
It’s been on the list for the last 12 years! If they could add a top pairing defenceman that pushes everyone down one spot on the depth chart (and gets Polak in the press box for good) then the defence suddenly becomes a pretty good group. If you can give Rielly better support and then have Gardiner/Zaitsev/Hainsey facing second tier competition and Carrick/Dermott eating up the rest then you have good skaters and puck movers on every line which is what this team needs to get back to being a fast, skilled team.
Name Kadri was a 30-goal scorer with 61 points and impressive metrics last year. All have dropped. What’s going on here?
Same thing that sewered the year before last: luck. You can split his season in two and you’ll see that the second half has seen him produce more shots but his shooting percentage plummet. His line has been struggling in terms of carrying the play compared to his career. Part of that is that I don’t think Komarov can face the toughs anymore and I’m not sold on Marleau being able to either (despite being a good addition). If Babcock trusted the Matthews line more at home then I think you’d see Kadri’s struggles turn around really quickly. Plus, in the last two games he’s made amazing passes to Marleau for goals that have been miraculously saved. It’s been that kind of stretch for him.
Is it time for Leafs fans to crack each other’s skull open and feast on the goo inside? Or is this kind of just a midseason lull and they’ll give Tampa everything they can handle in the playoffs?
It will always be skull cracking time with Leafs fans but that has nothing to do with how the team is doing so much as the feeling you get from talking to them. I think that the Leafs could possibly be having some come to Jesus moments that will bear fruit in the long term and they’re lucky enough to be in a division that is a total mess so there’s no pressure other than knowing they’ll face one of the two top teams in the NHL in the first round. I think that best case scenario, barring any big trades, is like last year: a gallant effort, some excitement, and a 5/6 game series loss to Tampa or Boston. After last year we’d all hoped for more but I don’t see much that gives me hope for more unless Babcock really starts changing how he dresses the team and Lou and Co. can get them a bit more help. But no big deal, these teams of young (looks at LA) studs (looks at Pittsburgh) always (looks at Chicago) eventually come good, right? (Looks at Edmonton, barfs)

 

Game #48 Preview

Preview

Spotlight

Q&A

Douchebag Du Jour

I Make A Lot Of Graphs

Lineups & How Teams Were Built

Everything Else

The dichotomy of the Toronto Maple Leafs this year is probably going to drive you utterly insane. On the one hand, there’s likely no other team in the East that you’d be more excited to watch. They are loaded with young, fast talent marshaled by a coach who knows how to play a possession game. They are poised to do many big things this year, and their first three lines could honestly pour in the goals. 300 goals is not out of the question for this outfit.

On the other, the noise generated by the Leafs and more specifically their stupidly carnivorous media and fans has always been outsized by a huge margin for a team that until last year sucked to the nth degree. What’s it going to be when they’re a genuine Cup contender now? It’s probably not going to be like anything you’ve ever seen, because the last time the Leafs were this close Izzy was still in Guns N’ Roses. You’ll be sick of it by December 1st, guaranteed.

Strap in.

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS

’16-’17 Record: 40-27-15  95 points (4th in the Flortheast)  Bounced in 1st round by the Caps

Team Stats 5v5: 50.3 CF% (13th)  49.2 SF% (20th)  51.7 SCF% (7th)  8.3 SH% (8th)  .929 SV% (19th)