Easter weekend is always a really fun time to be a sports fan. The NHL and NBA playoffs are starting to heat up, the English Premier League title race is coming down to the wire and Matt Kuchar won the PGA Tournament That Comes After The Masters. Fun, fun, fun!
It all serves as a welcome distraction for Toronto Maple Leafs fans as we sit here and wait to see if new president Brendan Shanahan will clean house in the front office and behind the bench. With each passing day, it seems less and less likely Shanahan will make significant changes. Waiting to fire the general manager and head coach seems like a terrible idea with the Entry Draft only two months away.
On that note, one change the Leafs definitely should not make is to trade Nazem Kadri. Well, unless they’re getting Ryan O’Reilly or Sean Couturier back, but even then, I’d have to mull it over. As J.P. Nikota of Pension Plan Puppets writes, 23-year-old bona fide second-line centres with oodles of skill who make pretty much everybody around them better don’t exactly grow on trees.
Tyler Dellow of mc79hockey took a look at some offensive zone faceoff losses by the Toronto Maple Leafs and then compared their strategy immediately after losing the draw with that of the Anaheim Ducks. From Dellow’s research, it looks like Randy Carlyle’s Leafs are much more passive, sending only one forward in to forecheck while the other two forwards sit back in the high slot. Bruce Boudreau’s Ducks, on the other hand, tend to be much more aggressive, having the two wingers pressure the puck-carrier immediately, leaving him with little time to make a decision. It’s a great find that sheds some light on the huge possession differences between Carlyle and Boudreau.
The American Hockey League’s Calder Cup playoffs get underway on Wednesday night. The Leafs’ affiliate, the Toronto Marlies, begin their best-of-five series on the road against the Milwaukee Admirals on Friday night. Josh Weissbock of NHL Numbers looks at some underlying numbers for each playoff contender in an excellent primer. The Marlies-Admirals series could be much closer than you think.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are in pretty serious trouble, down 3-0 to the Montreal Canadiens in their best-of-seven series. To make matters worse, captain Steven Stamkos suffered a concussion in last night’s game after his head collided with Alexei Emelin’s knee. He ended up returning to the game, but it might not have been the smartest move, seeing as he just had his bell rung. Damian Christodero of the Tampa Bay Times has some insight into the Lightning’s decision-making process regarding the injury to their most significant player.
The Nashville Predators have fired head coach Barry Trotz and seem intent on changing the organizational philosophy to winning, a.k.a. “The Predator Way”. But will things really change until they pick up some danged skilled forwards? Thomas Willis of Predlines examines the issue.