The Maple Leafs hit Saturday’s game against the Rangers with a 2-2-0 record and if there is any conclusions to be drawn from the first week of the regular season they are few and far between. That said…
1. Yes, everyone plays the same schedule but if you are looking for clues on bi-polar play start with the schedule on your kitchen fridge. Thursday’s game against the Islanders was the Leafs fourth in six nights. The Islanders, by contrast, hadn’t played since Monday. Hockey players can be ready to play after eight months off. Their legs or their lungs will need two weeks or so to catch up.
2. Next time you hear a player or analyst saying every game is a four-point game, laugh. The concept of the four-point game is built on teams playing out of conference opponents. Discuss.
3. More on the schedule. Matt Frattin was the most active Leaf against the Islanders. He bused to Toronto from Cleveland on Wednesday and flew back on game day. How tired must the rest of the team be?
4. Love the enthusiasm of Edmonton rookie Nail Yakupov but his dash away from teammates and rink-long slide after scoring a last second goal against Chicago smacked of soccer. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2p6XxYVyKrI Hmm, starting to sound like that guy on Saturday night.
5. How do you feel about the purported Luongo to Toronto deal if one of the candidates for a West Coast ticket had in fact been Nazem Kadri? Kadri leads the Leafs with three goals and five points in four games.
6. Would have given James Reimer the start against the Islanders. Probably wouldn’t have helped but I’m just saying.
7. Don’t know how many goals he will score but James van Riemsdyk’s two-goal effort against Pittsburgh showed a level of virtuosity. On the first, the big-bodied forward overwhelmed the Pittsburgh defence with his crease presence. On the second he whipped a shot from the high circle before Evgeni Malkin could fully process he had given the puck to the wrong team.
8. If the KHL is such a great league, why do Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin look so winded and Kadri and Mike Kostka look so great?
9. Is there a better story in the league right now than Marian Hossa? Brutally concussed by Raffi Torres last spring, Hossa is second in the league in goalscoring with five, one behind the Sharks Patrick Marleau. Torres is eligible to return from his 21-game suspension a week Saturday against Calgary.
10. In case you thought Dion Phaneuf was only a favourite of Ron Wilson, his 26:45 minutes a game is fifth behind only Drew Doughty (29:42), the Islanders Andrew MacDonald (27:57) Dustin Byfugllen (27:57) and Jack Johnson of the Columbus Blue Jackets (26:54). Phaneuf was sixth in the league in minutes with 25:17 last season.