After surprising much of the hockey world with a rousing 4-0-1 start, reality is slapping the poorly designed Toronto Maple Leafs in constant, embarrassing swipes. They’ve gone a pitiful 1-7-2 since earning nine out of a possible 10 points in the first five games of the season, scoring only 15 goals in that 10-game stretch of futility. Only the New Jersey Devils scored less (29) goals than the Leafs (32) so far this season.
Some might think it’s a sign that Brian Burke & Co. are pushing the panic button, but however you slice it, there is big news out of Toronto. After flopping a bit during the preseason and finding himself demoted for the first month-plus of the 2010-11 season, 2009 first round draft pick Nazem Kadri is back with the team after being recalled with Keith Aulie.
Those two prospects were recalled while Korbinian Holzer and Christian Hanson were sent to the minors, according to TSN.
When you play in a hockey-crazed market like Toronto, you have to expect some scrutiny … especially when you’re a rare first round pick in an era in which the team hasn’t made the playoffs since before the lockout. That’s the situation Kadri finds himself in; every misstep will be over-analyzed as if the young pivot is the Prime Minister of Hockey.
To his credit, Kadri has been doing well in the minors. He’s averaging a point per game with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies, with five goals and nine assists for 14 points in 14 games.
Of course, it’s often a big jump from the AHL to the NHL and many wonder if this move will stunt the prospect’s growth. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see, as Kadri will make his 2010-11 NHL premiere tomorrow night against the Vancouver Canucks.
Born in Scottsdale, AZ., Auston Matthews has taken the NHL by storm in his rookie season as an elite talent headlining an impressive freshman class.
Taken first overall last June, Matthews made history with four goals in his debut, surely a dizzying experience for Maple Leafs fans accustomed to heartbreak and frustration. And he really hasn’t slowed down since.
On Sunday against the Carolina Hurricanes — and on Hockey Day in America — the 19-year-old Matthews once again put on a show, scoring his 28th goal of the season. That gave Toronto a two-goal lead.
As he’s often done in his brief time in the NHL, this goal was of the spectacular variety, as he broke in off the left wing and, as he was getting hauled down to the ice, slid the puck five-hole on Cam Ward.
Related: Auston Matthews is having a rookie season for the ages
For about a month now, Evander Kane has enjoyed a particularly productive stretch for the Buffalo Sabres.
Kane scored with 5.6 seconds remaining in the first period of Sunday’s game versus the Chicago Blackhawks, converting on a nifty pass from Jack Eichel and going top shelf on Scott Darling.
He now has goals in three straight games, and 15 points in 14 games as the Sabres have fought their way back into the playoff race in the Eastern Conference.
Of course, this latest run comes just before the trade deadline, and Kane’s name has consistently been in speculation about a possible move — in addition to off-ice issues. While GM Tim Murray has said earlier this month that he’s not actively shopping Kane, he also didn’t absolutely rule out trading the 25-year-old left winger, now into his second season in Buffalo.
(Murray: “Is there a crazy deal that somebody could throw at me that would force me to do it? I guess there is.”)
Most impressive about Kane’s numbers — remember he missed time earlier this season with a rib injury and then had a slow start, which drew the ire of the coach — is that he’s done the vast majority of his scoring, 20 of 21 goals, at five-on-five.
The Boston Bruins are back from their bye week, looking to continue a three-game winning streak since Bruce Cassidy took over as head coach from Claude Julien.
The Bruins can extend their streak Sunday, when they visit the San Jose Sharks (8:30 p.m. ET). You can check out the game on NBCSN or online with NBC Sports’ Live Extra.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:
The NHL’s bye week experiment is still a work in progress
Pre-game reading: Are the Bruins and Avalanche on verge of trade?
Sharks have reason to wait on Thornton, Marleau extensions
Jacob Trouba could be getting a call from the NHL Department of Player Safety for a hit to the head of Ottawa Senators forward Mark Stone.
The incident occurred during the third period of Sunday’s game, as Stone was passing the puck after he entered the zone. Trouba stepped up and delivered a high hit, resulting in only a minor penalty for an illegal check to the head.
Stone, who dealt with a concussion that was reported in September, remained down on the ice before eventually going to the dressing room.
As you can see from the video, Senators coach Guy Boucher was furious officials on the ice decided this was only worth a minor for Trouba.