The good news for Boston fans is that Toronto lost consecutive regulation games for the first time since the second week of the season. The bad news is: So did Carolina (er- they've actually lost 14 straight not including overtime/shootouts; they haven't actually won a game since October 9th against the lowly Florida Panthers), and they're resembling the proverbial one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest these days. Sorry, 'Canes fans- I'm not telling you anything you aren't already aware of.
First up is the post mortem on the Leafs, who are now 3-9-5 on the season, good for 11 points and second-to-last place overall.
They lost an important game to the Minnesota Wild, 5-2 on Tuesday of last week. It's important because the injury-decimated (and talent deprived) Wild will compete with the Leafs all season for lottery status and positioning, so to gain two points on the Leafs was important for the standings watch.
It was a lousy game in net for Jonas "The Monster" Gustavsson, whom many Toronto fans have ludicrously dubbed a franchise savior in his first year. He stopped 26 of 30 shots for an .867 save percentage, bringing him back to earth a little bit after an admittedly impressive run over Tampa Bay, Carolina and Detroit. However, before we pencil him in for the Vezina Trophy, even with his excellent SEL pedigree, he's still seeing his first North American action on what is a mediocre team at best. He's going to have some more rough nights this season, so before Leafs fans proclaim him the second coming of Henrik Lundqvist, let's see how he looks at mid-season before we place any stamps on his endorsement.
On Friday, the Leafs lost to Chicago by a 3-2 score, with Phil Kessel scoring both Toronto goals, giving him 4 on the season. He's doing a great job for them offensively, but he simply doesn't have enough help up front or on the back end to maximize his scoring potential, I'm afraid. Vesa Toskala was in net for Toronto and if I'm not mistaken, it was the first game that he posted a save percentage above 90% this season (.912). Unfortunately for him, it wasn't enough to get his first win of what has been a horrific season. Toskala is posting an .836 save percentage and last night's start was his first action since Halloween.
Speaking of scary, is Carolina really this bad? The answer: Uh, yes, yes they are. They've lost the two players they could ill afford to: Eric Staal and Cam Ward, and the subsequent free-fall has been predictable. Last night, they got torched by John Tavares and the improving Islanders, who scored his 6th and 7th goals on the season, while Kyle Okposo got the winner in overtime. Veteran journeyman goalie Manny Legace was a horrorshow in net, and if he keeps playing like that, 'Canes fans have nothing to hope for this season. The team is bad enough as it is- if the goalie plays like garbage, then it's like getting a kick to the crotch.
The most telling stats: Carolina is 29th in goals for, and 30th in goals against, which tells you the story of the season thus far.
Even if Toronto goes into a tailspin, they're not likely to sink as low as the Hurricanes, so B's fans can only hope that the Leafs will continue to stay behind Florida, Minnesota and Anaheim for the time being. Expecting them to fall below Carolina's horrific Mason-Dixon line is the proverbial bridge too far.
I'll be back Monday will updated pick slotting for rounds 1-2. Also working on lining up several interviews with scouts about the 2010 player talent, so stay tuned. The latest Red Line Report came out this past week and I'd love to get Kyle Woodlief on record about a few things.
Keep checking back and thanks for reading the blog!