Don’t look now, but the Toronto Maple Leafs are on a five-game winning streak.
Yes. The Maple Leafs were outshot badly, which has happened many times this season. They got stellar goaltending from Jonathan Bernier, who made 39 saves, and defeated the Phoenix Coyotes by a final of 4-2 on Monday night.
In this streak, they’ve exorcised some of the demons from last year’s playoff collapse by defeating the Bruins in Boston, and put together a solid effort in beating one of their most storied historical rivals, the Montreal Canadiens, in front of a national television audience on Hockey Night in Canada.
“We’ve found out that winning is fun,” said Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner, as per Chris Johnston of Sportsnet.
Gardiner had a two-point night, opening the scoring in the first period. The Leafs jumped out to a three-goal lead after two periods, with Carl Gunnarsson scoring his first of the season. It also turned out to be the winner.
This streak happens to fall immediately after a four-game losing skid, in which the Leafs were outscored a total of 21-7 in that span. Yikes. That losing skid was part of a greater, overall struggle since the beginning of November.
Frank Corrado should be used to waiting by now. He had to wait 28 games before the Leafs inserted him into the lineup for the first time last season and now he’s waiting for a new contract.
There’s still a gap between the two sides, but it doesn’t appear to be very significant. Corrado and the Leafs will head to arbitration on July 26th unless the two sides can agree to a new deal before then.
According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, The Leafs have two different offers on the table. One is a two-way contract, while the other is a one-way deal that would see him make less money if he sticks in the NHL. Corrado is looking for a one-way deal worth $900,000.
Toronto scooped Corrado up off waivers from the Canucks prior to the start of the 2015-16 season. Despite waiting a while to actually hit the ice as a Leaf, Corrado finished the season with one goal, six points and a minus-12 rating in 39 games. He averaged 14:27 of ice time.
Splitting the difference would result in Corrado making roughly $737,500 next season.
The Maple Leafs are also scheduled to go to arbitration with forward Peter Holland (July 25) and defeseman Martin Marincin (Aug. 2).
After a few early exits from the Stanley Cup playoffs, the St. Louis Blues were finally able to make a long run. Granted, they didn’t win the Stanley Cup or make it to the final, but they did manage to reach the Western Conference Final.
Unfortunately for the Blues (and a lot of other teams), the NHL’s salary cap number didn’t increase very much and it forced the organization to part ways with a number of key veterans. Gone are captain David Backes, winger Troy Brouwer and goalie Brian Elliott.
There could be even more change between now and the start of the year, as Kevin Shattenkirk could find himself elsewhere.
Those key departures mean that the Blues will need some of their younger players to step up and take on more of a leadership role starting this fall. How will the team respond? Nobody knows, not even GM Doug Armstrong.
“It’s going to be an interesting case study on how quickly this group takes up the leadership,” Armstrong said, per the Boston Globe. “Can they do it in September? Or does it take them a year? There’s certainly a faith that over time, they’re going to pick it up without any issue. Obviously you want them to pick it up as quickly as possible. We don’t want to take any backwards movement in our organization. But sometimes you do expose yourself to maybe taking half a step back to take a couple steps forward.”
Young leaders like Vladimir Tarasenko, Jaden Schwartz and Alex Pietrangelo will need to “step up” in the leadership department, but the Blues aren’t completely out of veterans. Jay Bouwmeester, Paul Stastny and Alex Steen are all still on the roster. Still, it’ll be interesting to see if the Blues take that “half step back” that Armstrong was talking about.
—Jake Allen still needs to prove he’s a ‘legit’ number one goalie
—Blues sign Schwartz to five-year deal
—Backes doesn’t want to ‘sling mud’ at Blues on his way out
Since coming to the NHL as an 18-year-old in 2008, Luke Schenn has had the opportunity to play in Toronto, Philadelphia and Los Angeles. Playing in cities that love hockey is great, but it also comes with a certain amount of pressure.
Schenn, who is a former fifth overall pick, hasn’t lived up to his lofty draft status and when you underachieve in Toronto and Philadelphia, the fans and media make sure you know it.
On Saturday, Schenn signed a two-year deal in Arizona, which is a non-traditional hockey market. It sounds like it may have been done by design.
“I’m looking forward to coming to a market where I can just worry about playing hockey and not outside added pressure, and hopefully growing with the team,” Schenn said of signing with the Coyotes, per the team’s website. “I know they have a lot of upside and I still feel like I’ve hopefully got some upside, too. (I’m) still at a good age where I can continue to grow with them and evolve.”
The Coyotes have Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Alex Goligoski who are more than capable of moving the puck up the ice and players like Schenn and Zbynek Michalek will be counted on to provide some defensive stability.
“They’ve got a lot of guys who can shoot the puck and move the puck well and (who’ve) got a good offensive instinct for the game, so I just want to try to play solid defensively and help out in the defensive zone and on the penalty kill and play physical,” added Schenn. “Obviously, the way the game is now there’s a lot of skating so you’ve definitely got to pick your spots to be physical, but I still think there’s definitely still a need for that.”
Arizona still needs to work out deals with restricted free agents Michael Stone and Connor Murphy. Even if both players return next season, Schenn should still have a role as a four, five or six defenseman with the ‘Yotes.
Most people will never be able to say they have a street named after them, but Flyers center Sean Couturier isn’t most people.
The 23-year-old’s name is now on a street sign in his hometown of Bathurst, New Brunswick. Sean Couturier Avenue leads to the rink where he began his minor hockey career.
“It’s special, it’s a great honour,” Couturier said, per CBC.ca. “It’s not something you dream of growing up, but if you can be an example for other young kids and remind them even coming from a small town like Bathurst, anything is possible if you make the sacrifices and believe in what you can do.”
The month of July has been kind to Couturier for the second straight year. Last year at around this time, he signed a six-year contract extension worth $26 million. The new deal kicks in at the start of the upcoming season.
(Image credit: Radio-Canada)