It’s been a while since I have been able to report on the Toronto Maple Leafs because of ongoing projects I have been involved in but I thought this would be the perfect time to assess this team 20+ games into this 2011-2012 NHL season.
Success is measured on a game by game basis in the NHL today. On any given day a team could score eight goals, shutout the opposition and be labeled the best team in the conference; Then the next day lose 5-0 to a weaker team only to be labeled as a ‘work in progress’ or ‘disappointment’.
No other team than the Leafs have had the latter plastered to their reputation more in the last 10 years. Maybe that is due in part to the fact the Buds are the most highly publicized professional hockey team in the world. The point is that fans in Toronto have had little to cheer about for the last eight years because the Maple Leafs have yet to make the playoffs in this post lockout NHL. It seems there is hope yet for the fans with the early season play of the team so far. The Maple Leafs have a 14-8-2-0 record with 24 games played this year. If you compare last season to the first two months this season you may notice a difference in wins vs. losses. By this time last season the Leafs had less than nine wins on the year. As a matter of fact they didn’t achieve their 14th win until January 1st 2011. By the beginning of 2011 they had 22 points going into the second half of the season. The Leafs a month ahead of schedule when considering the wins they have gotten thus far. With the late season surge this team seems to have every year, the playoffs seem closer now than they ever have since 2003.
Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul have been the most productive scoring tandem in the league since the first game of the season and have been a huge part of the Leafs success since that time. Many players on the team have been performing well considering the rash of injuries that has hit the team; Starting with the head injury James Reimer suffered against the Montreal Canadiens over 30 days ago. The ability to stay atop the Eastern Conference as well as the league stems from the players commitment to compete every game and management’s coaching from the farm team up. If the Leafs continue this pace going into the second half of the season not only will fans/media be thinking playoffs, but also may be seeing some awards. Assuming everything goes the same for the rest of the year it is plausable you could see Ron Wilson getting the Jack Adams award. More over, I’d expect Brian Burke to win the GM of the Year award.
It is early, but there is question critics and fans need to keep in mind:
When will you start taking the Toronto Maple Leafs seriously?