Sometimes I like to tune in to Coach’s Corner with Ron MacLean and Don Cherry during the first intermissions of Saturday Toronto Maple Leafs games on Hockey Night In Canada just to get a good laugh. Most of the time, however, I just opt to avoid the segment altogether. No use getting worked up over the sexist and jingoist remarks of a kooky 79-year-old.
Cherry was stirring the pot again last Saturday, when he berated Nikolai Kulemin for turning the puck over in the first period in the game against the Winnipeg Jets. The turnover led to a Jets’ goal.
It’s almost like Cherry’s never seen Kulemin play before, because anybody who’s watched this team on a regular basis knows how much better the Leafs have played since Kulemin was bumped to the second line alongside Nazem Kadri and Joffrey Lupul.
You can’t really blame Cherry. He’s paid a massive amount of taxpayer dollars to have loud opinions about the play of the Leafs during a period he just watched, so it’s no surprise he tends to focus on the smallest of small sample sizes. Besides, he’s too busy yelling about P.K. Subban and minor hockey players who don’t wear ties to really analyze the NHL, even if it is his job as an NHL analyst.
James Mirtle takes a bit of a deeper look into the play of Kulemin. He might not be lighting the lamp or getting pucks on net like he used to, but he’s one of the few Leafs forwards who can actually hold his own defensively.
A lot of people are blaming Kadri for the Leafs’ offensive issues. Although his point totals are down, Cam Charron shows Kadri is actually producing more scoring chances than he was last year, it’s just his teammates aren’t finishing as much.
We all know the Leafs’ problems stem from being outshot on a regular basis, and the only reason they’ve won as many games as they have is because of a high PDO (team shooting and save percentages added together). How far can we expect the Leafs’ PDO to regress to, and will it be enough to keep winning despite their horrid shot differential? Jeffgm has some possible answers.
Turning our gaze east to the struggling Montreal Canadiens, Ryan Lambert knows what must be done for the team to have any hope of righting their sinking ship. Hint: It rhymes with “Higher Marion”.
Two more outdoor games took place over the weekend, one in Los Angeles (with surprisingly very good ice in the 16-degree Celsius weather) on Saturday night and one in New York City on Sunday afternoon. Dave Lozo was at the game in New York and has the story on a weird and wacky affair.