Leafs play poorly, still dominate with studs

Alternative title 1: Likely worst game Leafs play all season ends in three points and a show by the best center tandem in the league.

Alternative title 2: Best Habs can muster not good enough against piss-poor Leafs.

Alternative title 3: Leafs play like shit, get two points anyways.

Alternative title 4: Matthews shows Tavares Leafs are his team; Rift between two superstars?

…Sorry, ignore that last one this isn’t the Toronto Sun.

Regardless of how you spin it, that opening performance was less than impressive for Toronto but it ended with three points. I suppose it’s an early lesson learned for the Cup favourite Leafs – the league has a lot more parity than they may have assumed, and every team is dangerous. Just not that tire fire Ottawa.

Montreal were never going to be as bad as everyone assumed they were going to be in the offseason. They won’t make the playoffs and will finish right around Detroit in the division, safely out of the bottom but nowhere close to the points total needed for the playoffs.

They have two solid kids who showed up in this match and looked solid. Call it beginners luck for Jesper Kotkaniemi, and a career game for Lehkonen.

The highly-touted Kotkaniemi looked good in the game:

  • 1 assist (PP)
  • 15:05 ice time
  • +/- 0
  • 2 shots on goal

Lehkonen, too:

  • 1 G
  • 16:38 ice time
  • +/- 0
  • 3 shots on goal
  • 2 penalty mins.

Montreal looked good playing a fast-paced game, changing players in their lines (Lehkonen/Domi/Drouin to center or a wing) all game to keep things fresh and unpredictable.

Despite their teams’ solid play, without the best goalie in the world, Montreal loses this game in regulation 5-2 (minimum). Price only faces 26 shots in the match, but Toronto has a lethal power play and incredible skill 5on5 so the shots he faced were quality scoring chances rather than ‘pucks on net’ attempts.

Forget Montreal though, Toronto looked slow but let’s keep some perspective on a few things:

  1. It was one game.
  2. They won.
  3. Matthews and Tavares scored.
  4. The PP clicked.
  5. Anderson was awesome.
  6. and this doesn’t mean the Leafs need to overpay Nylander to get him in here.

The most important part of this game was that both Matthews and Tavares got goals and the top two lines looked solid all night. The time-on-ice was similar, too with Matthews at 17:39 and Tavares at 18:05 scraping up a few extra seconds on that second penalty kill unit.

Was it a bad game for the Leafs? Yes – they looked sluggish and slow, but it was just one game and Babcock is probably taking a strip off them as we speak. What we as Leaf fans can take away from this is that despite playing poorly all game the Leafs took three points, oh and also, if a game goes to OT the league should just give the Leafs the points. Sheesh!




Jets Jerseys Put ‘Win’ In Winnipeg

The Winnipeg Jets have always had pretty nice jerseys…

Except when the original (more or less) Jets moved to Phoenix and became the Coyotes, embracing Southwestern kitsch for a few unfortunate years. Or when the NHL franchise that would become the current Jets existed in Atlanta, where for 11 seasons the Thrashers never wore anything that wasn’t ugly.

Since relocating from Atlanta in 2011, the new Jets have dressed — and played — much better. A first-ever trip to the conference finals this season gives the current squad a chance to show the world just how sharp the Jets look.

In the Beginning …

The first Winnipeg Jets were a junior team formed in 1967 in the Western Canada Hockey League. When the World Hockey Association, an upstart challenger to the NHL, came along in 1972, they grabbed the name — and the attention of the hockey world by signing none other than the NHL’s Golden Jet, Blackhawks star Bobby Hull, to a then-unheard deal that included a $1 million signing bonus.

Winnipeg won three championships in the WHA’s seven seasons, after which it was one of four of the struggling league’s teams to merge with the NHL. In 17 NHL seasons, the original Jets won exactly two playoff series.

Here’s a rundown of the major changes to that team’s wardrobe.

1972: The road jerseys were blue, with three stripes — two white and one red — at the waist and elbows. On the back, a white nameplate was stitched with red letters above a white-trimmed red number. The logo, “Jets” spelled in red, featured a stick-like “J” and the image of a skater in the negative space of that letter. The home whites added a blue shoulder yoke, while the numbers and logo were blue, trimmed with red.

1973: Essentially, the same jerseys with a new logo. This placed “Jets” in a circle, made the “J” look even more like a stick, blended the top line of the “E” and the “T” together, added the silhouette of a passenger jet in a puck-like circle above the “J” and “Winnipeg” in arcing red letters below.

1979: For their NHL debut, the Jets took on a new look — borrowing heavily from the New York Rangers’ old look. Former GM John Ferguson had put the Rangers in full-length sleeve stripes for the 1976-77 season and brought it with him to the Jets. White stripes trimmed in red ran from cuff to cuff over the shoulders of the blue jersey, blue trimmed in red on the white.

1990: The original Jets get their final redesign, which would hold until the Phoenix move in ’96. Simple, wide stripes at the elbows and waist made for a classic look, as did another home run of a logo — this one a sharp updating of its predecessor. The nose of a jet moved to the space to the left of the “J,” “Winnipeg” above the line formed by the top of “E-T-S.”

Riffing on the R(C)AF

The Jets took their time deciding to be the Jets again, making that call at the 2011 NHL draft. A month later they debuted their new logo, which, like the jersey on which it rests, they’re still using.

That’s a good thing. Though it doesn’t resemble the Jets jerseys of old, the current, classically simple one mirrors their best traits. The home jerseys are dark blue with lighter blue and white accent stripes at the waist and elbow. The road whites add a dark blue shoulder yoke that runs all the way to the wrists. But the best part is the logo, which deftly mimics that of the Royal Canadian Air Force. Both logos feature a red maple leaf on a field of white inside a blue circle. The Winnipeg logo adds a gray fighter jet atop the leaf. You’d have to figure an alternate jersey is coming for the 2018-19 season, but when a team looks this good, they don’t need it.

Author bio: AJ Lee is Marketing Coordinator for Pro Stock Hockey, an online resource for pro stock hockey equipment. He was born and raised in the southwest suburbs of Chicago and has been a huge Blackhawks fan his entire life. AJ picked up his first hockey stick at age 3 and hasn’t put it down yet. Check out Pro Stock Hockey at https://www.prostockhockey.com/


The Rival Sports Podcast Episode 23: “Kicking can’t be this hard, right?”

The Rival Sports Podcast is back for Episode 23 and we’re talking more NFL football. The NFC has flip-flopped and we’re now living in the upside down, players legs are falling off, the AFC North is all but settled, and kickers inexcusably suck now.

In Episode 23 Adam and Al are joined by special guest and friend of the pod Ben who sheds some light on this weeks NFL action and give his personal take (as a former kicker) on why everyone but Justin Tucker sucks. Plus we chat about the Eifert puke-inducing ankle break that Redzone didn’t prepare us for, and Earl Thomas shooting his team the bird while getting carted off.

Listen to “Episode 23: “Kicking can’t be this hard, right” on Spreaker here!
Want to hear more? Subscribe on iTunes, listen on Google Play, and be sure to check our archives.
This episode includes:

  • Vikings discussions on whether they’re the real deal anymore
  • Packers talk on crushing the Bills, showing patience with Devante Adams as a number 1 WR in the NFL, and rejoicing in Aaron Jones’ early success
  • Are the Bears really good? and will the Lions ever be good?
  • Earl Thomas obviously breaks his leg and makes it a contract issue while Le’veon Bell can’t help but comment on Instagram on the issue
  • Tyler Eifert has a great game but then his foot pretty much falls off to end his season
  • The Browns and Steelers go quietly into the night as the Bengals and Ravens are in the driver’s seat for the division
  • And we end by discussing kickers in the NFL making their jobs so much harder than it has to be

The Rival Sports Podcast will be posting new NFL episodes on a weekly basis. Please subscribe on iTunes and Google Play to keep up to date on all of our podcasts!

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