As we start the New Year, it’s as good a time as any to look at a few topics in Maple Leafs Land. Let’s get right to it:
– Sometimes, Leafs’ opinions can be so absurd, it’s comical. That’s the case with some people recently chiming in that Toronto’s record without top defenseman Morgan Rielly is far better than their record when he’s been injured and out of the lineup. Are people actually suggesting Rielly has been the issue in the Buds’ recent stumbles in the standings? I mean, really, those folks need a good head-shake. Before he suffered a knee injury, Rielly was the Buds’ most-utilized skater, and he probably will be for the rest of the season.
If there’s anyone to blame for the Leafs’ 4-4-1 record in their past nine games, it’s Toronto’s goaltenders. We told you to expect a regression to the mean out of their goalies, and sure enough, Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov have not been at their best. The Leafs’ offense also has dried up to a degree in their current skid. None of this can be laid at the feet of Rielly, a heart-and-soul member of Toronto’s dressing room, and a relative bargain at $7.5 million per season. The notion that the Leafs would be better if they traded Rielly is risible. When Toronto straightens out their performance, it will be because they’re far deeper with Rielly in the lineup and eating up more minutes than any other Leafs’ skater.
– One of the reasons Toronto was able to play well without Rielly is the contribution of veteran Mark Giordano. The Toronto native is one of the NHL’s best bargains in the league at $800,000 per season; he’s added calmness and stability to the Leafs’ back end, and made their defense corps one of the deeper groups in the league.
Around Full Press Hockey
Full Press Bets: Early 2022 NFL MVP Odds: Bills’ Josh Allen Favored
Giordano has averaged nearly 20 minutes of ice time per game, and while that’s impressive for a guy who is 39 years old, he’s also someone head coach Sheldon Keefe doesn’t want to wear down with excessive usage before the playoffs begin. This is another reason why the return of Rielly matters so much for Toronto: Keefe can ease off Giordano for the rest of the regular season and have both players in top condition once the post-season starts. Giving more minutes to youngsters Timothy Liljegren and Rasmus Sanding, and depth defenders Jordie Benn and Justin Holl, is only going to help Toronto’s playoff chances.
– Finally, with the recent success of another NHL outdoor game in Boston, it’s worth noting that the Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins have participated in more outdoor games than Toronto, which has played in four outdoor games in the modern era. Certainly, the league should be looking to involve every franchise in at least one game. Still, if Philly can play in five outdoor games, Pittsburgh can play in six of them, and the Hawks (six games) and Bs (five games) can play in so many outdoor games, it’s not unfair to suggest the Leafs can get another outdoor game in the near future.
If it’s all about a different venue, Toronto’s next outdoor game could be held at the currently-under-renovation Rogers Center (formerly the SkyDome). In a way, the Dome would be perfect – if the weather holds up, the retractable roof could be opened. If not, the Dome could be closed, and still attract upwards of 60,000 people. That’s the type of large-scale spectacle the league wants from these types of events.
Yes, the league needs better balance in these prestige games. But the way things have unfolded thus far, the Leafs shouldn’t be this low-down in the number of outdoor games that have taken place. It doesn’t have to happen next season, but sometime relatively soon, Toronto ought to get another kick at the can.
Ep 42: Going Streaking, 84 Game Schedule, Ovechkin Watch, Holiday Funby Full Press Coverage on December 22, 2022 at 5:50 pm
In this episode, Jim and Chris talk notable point streaks in the NHL, the […]
Ep 40: Borje Salming Passing; Kris Letang, Roope Hintz, Top 5 Teamsby Full Press Coverage on December 2, 2022 at 12:45 am
Jim Biringer and Chris Wassel are back for another edition of Full Press […]
Ep 79: Bruins Are A Wagon, Pastrnak Contract, Krejci, Trade Deadlineby Full Press Coverage on January 18, 2023 at 6:35 pm
Ian and Chris evaluate the red-hot Bruins halfway through the season. In […]
Ep 78: Mitchell Miller Fiasco Reaction; What Do The Bruins Do Next?by Full Press Coverage on November 7, 2022 at 10:37 pm
Ian and Chris react to the Mitchell Miller signing fiasco and discuss what […]
S4Ep18 - The Mess That Is The Vancouver Canucks and What Is Nextby Jim Biringer on January 30, 2023 at 8:00 am
Jim is back for a fourth season of the Final Word of Hockey as he brings […]
S4Ep17 - Road Warriors - Devils, Kraken, Bruins, and Golden Knightsby Jim Biringer on January 24, 2023 at 7:00 am
Jim is back for a fourth season of the Final Word of Hockey with NHL […]
Episode #125: Rockford Offseason Makeover Successesby Full Press Coverage on January 19, 2023 at 5:04 pm
On this edition of The Calder Farmstead, Sean and Sarah discuss the news […]