The Toronto Maple Leafs have been badly outplayed in their last two games. They were fortunate to lose just one of them.
Even with a spot in the playoffs pretty much assured, Leafs coach Randy Carlyle knows his team needs to be better, starting tonight at home to the Islanders.
“We need to play a better brand of hockey than we did in the last six periods,” said Carlyle,
per the Globe and Mail’s James Mirtle.
“Or we’re not going anywhere.”
On Monday, the Leafs managed to beat
a “cursed” Devils team, 2-0, despite being out-shot 31-13. (It was the second time this season that Toronto had won a game with 13 shots.)
But Tuesday in Washington, the Leafs’ luck ran out. The Capitals smoked them, 5-1.
Toronto can clinch its first playoff appearance since 2004 with a win over the Isles combined with a regulation loss by the Jets against Carolina.
The Leafs are likely to play either Boston or Montreal in the first round.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have plenty of time to rise above mediocrity, yet it still must be deserving to finish at .500 for two straight months.
After last night’s 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders, that’s exactly where they find themselves:
Record at the end of October: 5-5-2
Record at the end of November: 11-11-3
As of this writing, the Lightning found themselves on the outside looking in at the playoff picture. It all stands as a pretty tough thing for the reigning Eastern Conference champs to swallow.
The uncomfortable-yet-vital question is: can the Lightning break out of this funk?
Looking at their schedule, it won’t be easy, at least not right away.
They crawl through California during a three-game road trip to start December, and they also face six of eight on the road from Dec. 2 – 18.
The Lightning soak up home dates to finish 2015 after that, but what damage will be done by then?
Frankly, the Bolts will need to dig deep to break this pattern. If nothing else, they’ve fought with their backs against the wall before.
Sometimes a suspension will shame a player, or at least inspire him to change the way he plays.
That apparently won’t happen regarding
Brandon Dubinsky‘s one-game timeout session for cross-checking Sidney Crosby.
told Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch that he won’t alter his style, whether it’s against Crosby or someone else.
“Nope,” Dubinsky said. “You know, I’ve played the same way my whole career and I’m not going to change. The next time I have an opportunity to play (Crosby), I’m going to play him hard.”
In case you’re wondering, that next opportunity comes on Dec. 21 in Pittsburgh, assuming that both players are healthy and not suspended.
One can understand Dubinsky’s perspective, although such honesty would be that much more interesting if there’s another incident with Crosby. His initial reaction to the hit was interestingly candid, admitting that his
“stick rode up” on his adversary.
Would that stance – which, from a harsher view, might seem flippant to Dubinsky’s critics – open the door for a bigger future bit of a discipline?
Maybe, maybe not … but at least his comments aren’t
as inflammatory as what John Tortorella said (at least on the record).
Mikkel Boedker, you won’t get to face the Ottawa Senators again this season.
OK, it could happen if the speedster is traded from the Arizona Coyotes. He could also face the Senators in the unlikely instance that the two teams fight it out in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.
Beyond those two possibilities, Saturday night was it, and Boedker must have been licking his chops much like an actual coyote.
For the second straight game, Boedker managed a hat trick against the Senators, helping Arizona beat Ottawa 4-3 last night. His third tally stood as the game-winner in a 4-3 victory.
You can watch all three goals in the video above.
It’s oddly fitting that Boedker has three goals this season … against teams not named the Ottawa Senators.
Don’t forget, the Blue Jackets – Penguins rivalry isn’t just about the bitterness between
Sidney Crosby and Brandon Dubinsky; John Tortorella can fuel the fire, too.
Torts must not have been happy about the one-game suspension that Dubinsky received for cross-checking Crosby, as he channeled his vintage self in essentially calling the Penguins a bunch of whiners.
You can see
from this glorious Sportsnet video, Tortorella said: “Pittsburgh whines enough for the whole league.”
(He also said the Blue Jackets weren’t going to whine by … whining. Good stuff.)
As Puck Daddy notes, this isn’t the first time Torts claimed that the Penguins are whiners.
Both the Blue Jackets and Penguins lost their games on Saturday, but clearly some eyes and ears were still focused on their last confrontation.
In case you’re wondering, the two teams next face off in Pittsburgh on Dec. 21.