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Toronto Maple Leafs News & Notes: January 27, 2013

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.

Tags: Don Cherry Nazem Kadri Nikolai Kulemin Toronto Maple Leafs

2 Comments on Toronto Maple Leafs News & Notes: January 27, 2013

  1. ssdd58 says:

    Third line players don’t follow up career years with a 7 goal season, followed by another 7 goal season, albeit lockout shortened. Third line players don’t have 7 goals over 1/2 way into the season. If your not going to score you can’t be -5 in your career if your want to be a third line player. Kulimen has played anywhere fm the 3rd line to the 1st line. The offensive return does not justify this. The 30 goal season was obviously an anomaly. I can only imagine how Grabovski must have sighed woefully when he was a Leaf @ all the grade A scoring chances he set Kulimen up for, w/o any return. This year ha been no different. Nonis must look @ moving him for whatever he can get or resign him for Colton Orr money & hope he is bargin deal like Raymond. I wouldn’t be trashing Cherry then spewing the parses of Nik Kulimen. Cherry has probably forgotten more about hockey that you will ever know, this kind of insane logic only magnifies it!

    • Tim Bayer says:

      You need to adjust your definition of a third-line player. By definition, there are 90 first-line forwards in the NHL (3 first-liners x 30 teams). Any forward ranked between 180-270 in scoring can then be considered a third-line player. Over the last three seasons, Kulemin is ranked 202nd among forwards who have played at least 100 games in points per game.

      The only Leafs forward who starts less shifts in the offensive zone than Kulemin is Jay McClement. He also faces some of the toughest competition among Leafs forwards. Last year he faced the toughest competition among Leafs forwards and once again was second only to McClement in lowest percentage of offensive zone starts.

      Yes, Kulemin’s scoring has gone way down, and he doesn’t shoot enough. But I still think he’s an effective player and is the type of defensive forward every team needs to be successful. He also has four points in his last six games since he started playing with Kadri and Lupul, so we know he can still score.

      Comparing him to Colton Orr, he of 0 points in 41 games, is just silly.

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