Toronto Maple Leafs
NHL 15: Toronto Maple Leafs Guide
Written By: Leafer91
Year in Review:
On July 4th, the Toronto Maple Leafs won the David Clarkson sweepstakes as he signed a seven year, $5.25 million dollar contract with the club. The general consensus was that he was a bit over paid, but he should be able to bring some extra grit and scoring to the second line. It seemed nobody could predict that he would fall so flat.
Nonis also re-signed Tyler Bozak to a five year, $4.2 Million contract, bought out Mikal Grabovski and let Clarke MacArthur walk. Grabo was replaced with Dave Bolland and MacArthur was replaced with Mason Raymond. Bolland unfortunately got injured early in the season during a game vs the Vancouver Canucks and didn’t return until the end of the season, when things started to fall apart. Raymond did a pretty good job filling holes on the second and third line as he scored 19 goals on the season.
The Leafs and Sabres had some pretty crazy pre-season games. Most notably when John Scott tried to jump Phil Kessel in a scrum. Kessel would have none of that, so he did his best lumberjack technique by using his stick to hack at Scott’s ankles. Clarkson saw the proceedings and jumped onto the ice when he wasn’t supposed to, resulting in an automatic 10 game suspension. Jonathan Bernier and Ryan Miller fought at one point, which was pretty neat!
The Leafs got off to a pretty good start, going 7-3 in their first 10 games. Upon Clarkson’s return, the Leafs got shelled 5-2 by the Columbus Blue Jackets. At that point, the Leafs had only lost to teams that started with the letter “C” (Chicago, Columbus, Carolina, Colorado). That curse was broken on October 30th when the Leafs beat the Calgary Flames 4-2, Clarkson recorded his first point as a Leaf during this game. The Leafs ended October with a 10-4 record and things finally started to look good in Leaf land!
Then November rolled around…. They went 4-9. This included a game where they got blown out by the Blue Jackets 6-0, followed by a 6-5 SO loss to the Penguins. In that game, the Leafs were up 5-2 heading into the third, then they didn’t record a single shot in the third and the penguins stormed back to tie the game. In December, the Leafs did a bit better, going 6-6-2. The highlight of the month was when the Leafs somehow beat the defending Stanley Cup champs Chicago Blackhawks 7-3. Two days before that, the Leafs got rekt by the St. Louis Blues, losing 6-3 but were down 6-1 at one point.
On January 1st, the Leafs and Red Wings clashed at the Big House in an epic game surrounded by over 100,000 fans, including me! It snowed all day and was so goddamn cold, but it was still the best hockey I have experienced. The Leafs ended up winning 3-2 in a shootout, at this point, people started to get excited again about some potential Playoff hockey in Toronto.
That hope was quickly erased as they followed the Winter Classic with four straight losses and they dipped out of the playoff race for the first time that season.
Optimism escalated quickly as after they went on that four game losing streak, they countered it by going on a six game win streak, with pretty big wins against Boston, Montreal and Colorado. Before the Olympic break, the Leafs went through February with a 3-1-1 record, giving them around a 10 point cushion from 9th place.
End of Season:
I remember listening to TSN radio, Bryan Hayes, Noodles and Jeff O’Neil were teeing up the California road trip. At This point, the Leafs had around 20 games remaining, and had a decent point total. They said if the Leafs could steal 2 points from the road trip they would have a great chance on making the playoffs. Well guess what, they stole 4 points from Anaheim and LA. The LA game was probably the most intense game of the season, Jonathan Bernier left the game with an injury and the Leafs were down 2-0. They stormed back with an incredible performance from James Reimer and a shorthanded winner from MayRay. The Leafs won 3-2 and shit was hype yo, nothing could stop us from making the Playoffs.
Then, umm, some other stuff happened… after the Cali trip, the Leafs umm, they lost eight straight games, to fairly easy opponents. EIGHT. STRAIGHT. GAMES. Goodbye Playoffs, hello alcoholism. We did end that streak against Calgary where Clarkson scored a beauty breakaway goal, then the next game we beat Boston in OT, and a sliver of hoped gleamed in the eyes of young fans across the nation. Too bad they had to lose the last four games and fall to eighth last place.
Highlights of the 2013 – 2014 Season:
Why the Leafs Will Win the Stanley Cup this Season:
I can think of three things that will help us win the Cup this year.
1) Carlyle somehow changes his ways with the help of our new assistant coaches. He rolls out four consistent lines that have good chemistry and can play both defense and offense. He implements some system that limits the shots against and increases shots taken. More importantly, gives goalies the time they deserve and rests goalies that are banged up.
2) Shanahan gets angry and fires Carlyle before the 10 game mark and replaces him with some other coach. I haven’t thought this far since I don’t know who is out there to replace a head coach, but I am sure Shanahan would know, he hasn’t fucked up yet, and that is saying a lot since we have had a bad track of head office guys recently.
3) The hockey Gods finally stop toying with Leafs fans emotions and gives us something to be happy about for once in our lives. Sadly, this point is the most likely to happen if we do actually win the cup.
Why the Leafs Won’t Win the Stanley Cup This Year:
I don’t even know where to start, we have had three straight collapses, each having their own flair. It is impossible to not have thoughts of another collapse creep into the minds of every player, coach, gm, or fan next year. I think that’s what happened last year after they got on their eight game lose streak, they couldn’t pull themselves out and it cost them their playoff position. We are also a very young team, so experience will play a big role in making/not making the playoffs.