stats
globeinteractive.com: Making the Business of Life Easier

   Finance globeinvestor   Careers globecareers.workopolis Subscribe to The Globe
The Globe and Mail /globeandmail.com
Home | Business | National | Int'l | Sports | Columnists | The Arts | Tech | Travel | TV | Wheels
space


Search

space
  This site         Tips

  
space
  The Web Google
space
   space



space

  Where to Find It


Breaking News
  Home Page

  Report on Business

  Sports

  Technology

space
Subscribe to The Globe

Shop at our Globe Store


Print Edition
  Front Page

  Report on Business

  National

  International

  Sports

  Arts & Entertainment

  Editorials

  Columnists

   Headline Index

 Other Sections
  Appointments

  Births & Deaths

  Books

  Classifieds

  Comment

  Education

  Environment

  Facts & Arguments

  Focus

  Health

  Obituaries

  Real Estate

  Review

  Science

  Style

  Technology

  Travel

  Wheels

 Leisure
  Cartoon

  Crosswords

  Food & Dining

  Golf

  Horoscopes

  Movies

  Online Personals

  TV Listings/News

 Specials & Series
  All Reports...

space

Services
   Where to Find It
 A quick guide to what's available on the site

 Newspaper
  Advertise

  Corrections

  Customer Service

  Help & Contact Us

  Reprints

  Subscriptions

 Web Site
  Advertise

  E-Mail Newsletters

  Free Headlines

  Globe Store New

  Help & Contact Us

  Make Us Home

  Mobile New

  Press Room

  Privacy Policy

  Terms & Conditions


GiveLife.ca

    

PRINT EDITION
Maple Leafs remain on solid ground at the 20-game mark
space
space
By DAVID SHOALTS
  
  

Email this article Print this article
Wednesday, November 15, 2017 – Page S1

TORONTO -- As the traditional measuring stick for NHL general managers approaches, there is something unusual afoot in the land of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Even though the team has had its bumpy spots this season, there are no tire fires to keep the fans and media raging. This is not the normal state of affairs for Leafs Nation, as exLeafs GM and current Calgary Flames president Brian Burke reminded us

earlier this week when he gave a graphic description of how Flames youngster Sam Bennett, who remains a disappointment in his third NHL season, would have been eviscerated had he the misfortune to be employed by the Leafs.

Even with the Leafs' budding superstar, Auston Matthews, still on the mend from what is suspected to be a back injury, the Leafs remain on solid ground as they prepare to hit the 20-game mark of the season after a four-day break. Twenty games, or the U.S. Thanksgiving Day depending on the GM, is traditionally where those running NHL teams like to assess what they have and decide if urgent corrective action in the form of a trade is necessary.

It is also important for a team to be in playoff position by the 20-game mark, as history shows most of those in such a spot will remain there for the rest of the season. One year ago, even though the Leafs were still in the first real season of their rebuild, there were a few things to stir up the usual suspects even though they had taken a vow of patience.

Matthews, after blasting out of the gate in the first few games of his NHL career last season, hit a scoring slump in late October in which he went 13 games without a goal. Also, by the 20-game mark in 2016-17, the Leafs had an 8-8-4 record and were sixth in the Atlantic Division. They were three points out of the second wild-card playoff spot then, but did sneak in on the last weekend of the regular season.

Their defensive game was still a shambles, as the Leafs allowed 67 goals in 20 games, 27th in the league in that category, although they scored 62, tied with the Chicago Blackhawks for sixth.

This was a vast improvement on the previous season when the unstated intention was to finish as low as possible in order to have the best chance to draft Matthews. And this season is a big step up from the surprising surge of a year ago.

The Leafs will play their 20th game on Thursday at Air Canada Centre against the New Jersey Devils, playing much better than in 2016. Before Tuesday's games, the Leafs were a solid second in the Atlantic Division with a 12-7 record and 24 points. Their 72 goals-for was tops in the NHL and their 63 goalsagainst was 29th. However, in their past four games, all wins, the Leafs shored up their defence to allow just eight goals.

Another key difference from last year comes in overtime games. A year ago, the Leafs had four overtime or shootout losses, a symptom of their tendency to cough up leads in the third period, something that dogged them almost the entire season. The Leafs cut that number to zero this season and have three overtime wins plus a shootout win, proof that leads are now safe and it is the opposition leads that can be tenuous.

There is also encouraging news on the Matthews front. He skated on his own on Monday and the plan was to do the same Tuesday while the rest of the team had the day off.

Matthews is expected to join his teammates at practice on Wednesday and, if everything checks out, he should return to the lineup Thursday. In his absence, the Leafs won all three of their games.

When the Leafs reconvene Wednesday, there will be one new face in the lineup. Forward Nikita Soshnikov was recalled from the Toronto Marlies farm team on Tuesday with centre Frédérik Gauthier headed the other way. This was to prevent Soshnikov from exercising an option in his contract to return to the Kontinental Hockey League if he were not on the Leafs' roster by Nov. 14.

Soshnikov, 24, spent 56 games with the Leafs last season, earning nine points, until a concussion ended his season on March 20. This year, Soshnikov had 12 points in 14 games with the Marlies.

The game against the Devils represents more than just hitting the 20game mark. Even though the Leafs are already 4-0 in their latest fivegame segment - the way head coach Mike Babcock likes to break down the season with the goal being six points in each segment - there is much incentive to beat the Devils.

They made the Leafs look mistakeprone in a 6-3 win at Air Canada Centre on Oct. 11 and revenging that would send a message to everyone.

Associated Graphic

Auston Matthews, centre, is expected to practise on Wednesday and could return to the lineup Thursday, while Nikita Soshnikov, right, was recalled from the Toronto Marlies to prevent him from exercising an option in his contract to return to the Kontinental Hockey League.

JEFFREY T. BARNES/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS


Huh? How did I get here?
Return to Main Margaret_Wente Page
Subscribe to
The Globe and Mail
 

Email this article Print this article

space  Advertisement
space

Need CPR for your RSP? Check your portfolio’s pulse and lower yours by improving the overall health of your investments. Click here.

Advertisement

7-Day Site Search
    

Breaking News



Today's Weather


Inside

Rick Salutin
Merrily marching
off to war
Roy MacGregor
Duct tape might hold
when panic strikes


Editorial
Where Manley is going with his first budget




space

Columnists



For a columnist's most recent stories, click on their name below.

 National


Roy MacGregor arrow
This Country
space
Jeffrey Simpson arrow
The Nation
space
Margaret Wente arrow
Counterpoint
space
Hugh Winsor  arrow
The Power Game
space
 Business


Rob Carrick arrow
Personal Finance
space
Drew Fagan arrow
The Big Picture
space
Mathew Ingram arrow
space
Brent Jang arrow
Business West
space
Brian Milner arrow
Taking Stock
space
Eric Reguly arrow
To The Point
space
Andrew Willis arrow
Streetwise
space
 Sports


Stephen Brunt arrow
The Game
space
Eric Duhatschek arrow
space
Allan Maki arrow
space
William Houston arrow
Truth & Rumours
space
Lorne Rubenstein arrow
Golf
space
 The Arts


John Doyle arrow
Television
space
John MacLachlan Gray arrow
Gray's Anatomy
space
David Macfarlane arrow
Cheap Seats
space
Johanna Schneller arrow
Moviegoer
space
 Comment


Murray Campbell arrow
Ontario Politics
space
Lysiane Gagnon arrow
Inside Quebec
space
Marcus Gee arrow
The World
space
William Johnson arrow
Pit Bill
space
Paul Knox arrow
Worldbeat
space
Heather Mallick arrow
As If
space
Leah McLaren arrow
Generation Why
space
Rex Murphy arrow
Japes of Wrath
space
Rick Salutin arrow
On The Other Hand
space
Paul Sullivan arrow
The West
space
William Thorsell arrow
space





Home | Business | National | Int'l | Sports | Columnists | The Arts | Tech | Travel | TV | Wheels
space

© 2003 Bell Globemedia Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Help & Contact Us | Back to the top of this page