The Toronto Maple Leafs host another Floridian team tonight, this time the Florida Panthers. The Panthers sit in second-last place in the Atlantic Division and are struggling to keep pace with the wildcard holders in the East. But the Panthers always seem to play the Leafs tough, and they beat the Leafs last time they played on December 17.
The Leafs are stringing together a pretty good run, going 7-1-1 in their last nine games. As James Mirtle of The Globe and Mail writes, these points they’re banking now will come in handy in the stretch drive. But is this run of good luck likely to continue?
Since Gary Bettman implemented the shootout as a way of deciding tie games after the 2004-05 lockout, team records across the league have received a boost from the loser point (also known as, fittingly, the Bettman point). Because of this, a .500 hockey team (a team with an identical number of wins and losses) isn’t really a .500 team anymore. So how many points would a truly average team in today’s NHL accumulate by season’s end? SkinnyFish of Pension Plan Puppets runs the numbers.
On the Toronto Marlies, 20-year-old goalie prospect Garret Sparks has only appeared in eight games because of the dominant play of starter Drew MacIntyre. In an effort to get him more development time, the organization is planning to switch him with Christoper Gibson, who’s plying his trade for the Orlando Solar Bears of the ECHL. Kyle Cicerella has that story and other Marlies news.
If Jonathan Bernier posts a 40-save shutout in the first game of a back-to-back, does it make sense for the Leafs to keep him in for the second game? Tyler Dellow answers that question in a post on his personal blog.
Speaking of goalies, should Team Canada think twice about playing Carey Price in the Olympics because of his recent struggles with the Montreal Canadiens? Jonathan Willis of Bleacher Report looks at the numbers of all three Team Canada goalies and offers an answer.