Maybe Tim Leiweke was right and October wasn’t a fluke?
We’re not ready to concede that quite yet, but the Toronto Maple Leafs’ current six-game winning streak sure bears a striking resemblance to their winning ways in the opening month of the regular season.
Consider: in October, the Leafs went 10-4-0 and were outshot by a combined 505 to 371. In their last six games, all wins, they’ve been outshot by a combined 220-179.
How have they done it lately? Pretty much the same way they did before. Solid goaltending, an excellent power play, and an opportunistic offense (led by Phil Kessel, who’s scored five times on his last 17 shots).
“With Phil, if he continues to get chances, he’s got a history behind him and he knows how to score goals,” Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said after last night’s 5-2 victory in Colorado.
Of course, the question today, as it was in October, is a matter of sustainability. The Leafs’ possession numbers still rank among the lowest in the NHL, with only the Buffalo Sabres below them. No, possession isn’t everything — the Colorado Avalanche rank pretty low, too — but when you consider the top four teams in Fenwick (5 on 5, score close) are Los Angeles, Chicago, San Jose, and Boston, it’s pretty hard to ignore.
Toronto takes on the Stars in Dallas tomorrow.
Brendan Perlini is off to an impressive start this season with the Tuscon Roadrunners in the American Hockey League. The scoring has been there. The production has been there.
Averaging a point per game with 11 goals through 16 contests in the minors, Perlini is on his way to the NHL. The Arizona Coyotes officially recalled the 20-year-old forward — selected 12th overall in the 2014 draft — from Tuscon on Sunday.
The rebuilding, youthful Coyotes are last in the Pacific Division right now, stuck with eight wins through 23 games.
They gave up 60 shots to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday but managed to earn a single point thanks to the play of their goalie Mike Smith.
The Coyotes are on the road Monday and Tuesday this week. They’ll open this quick trip against Columbus, although it hasn’t been determined when Perlini will get into the lineup.
But with a back-to-back situation on the road, it seems likely he’ll make his NHL debut at some point in the next two days.
“Brendan possesses elite speed and goal scoring ability,” said general manager John Chayka. “He has led the AHL in scoring early on and we believe he has earned the opportunity to show what he can do at the NHL level.”
Not much in the way of pleasantries between the Chicago Blackhawks and Winnipeg Jets on Sunday.
It started with Jordin Tootoo and Chris Thorburn dropping the gloves just 2:22 into this Central Division contest, with the Jets forward earning the takedown at the end of the scrap.
Bit of a size mismatch. Tootoo is listed at five-foot-nine-inches and 195 pounds, while Thorburn is six-foot-three-inches tall and 235 pounds.
Both teams are missing key players in this one.
Jonathan Toews is once again out of the Chicago lineup — and, it was revealed before Sunday’s game, that he won’t skate for the next few days — while Mark Scheifele misses this game for the Jets.
Philadelphia Flyers forward Matt Read is done for the night with an upper-body injury, the team announced.
Read, who only played three shifts today, was hit into the net by Nashville Predators forward Filip Forsberg during the first period. Flyers GM Ron Hextall announced the veteran forward suffered an upper-body injury.
There was no call on the play.
In 26 games this season, Read has six goals and 10 points.
Alexander Radulov has been a pretty good acquisition for the Montreal Canadiens, and he continued to prove that Sunday against the L.A. Kings.
Radulov scored in the shootout against the Kings, helping the Canadiens to a 5-4 victory. He also scored in the second period and had two assists for a three-point night. Not bad.
But his shootout goal was sweet. Just made it look easy, as he went to the backhand, top shelf on Peter Budaj.
With reported tension between coach Michel Therrien and Max Pacioretty, the Habs captain scored twice and had an assist. Another three-point night.
So, the Habs got offensive contributions from their best players.
That said, one of their best players, Alex Galchenyuk left the game late in the third period after a collision with Anze Kopitar away from the puck.
Galchenyuk didn’t return for the overtime. In 25 games, he has nine goals and 23 points, emerging as the No. 1 center in Montreal when the season began.