The Carolina Hurricanes' first visit to Canada is tonight, as they face the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre. The Leafs are off to a rather surprising start, currently sitting in a playoff spot after an offseason of turmoil that culminated with GM Brian Burke being fired a week before the season. In this edition of Three Questions, we welcome in the aptly-named PPP from Pension Plan Puppets (gee, wonder where he got that handle) to preview the Canes' first of two visits to Toronto this season.
- So far, it's been about a 2/3-1/3 split in goalie TOI between James Reimer and Ben Scrivens. Is this likely to continue, or will Randy Carlyle run with one guy and relegate the other to backup duty?
Reimer's heading towards his 5th straight start and is up to a .922 sv% so as long as he can keep close to that performance (ie .910ish) then I think he'll get the vast majority of starts. The exceptions might be in situations where the back-to-back is the third game in four nights. Reimer's historically done really well in seasons with around 40ish games played so that could possibly be to his benefit.
- The Leafs are in a playoff spot despite Phil Kessel not being able to buy a goal so far. Have we seen their potential hit a ceiling, or could it rise higher when Kessel gets on the board if guys like Frattin, Kadri and Kulemin keep their hot start going?
You've hit on the good news, the Leafs have done pretty well despite not getting much production from Kessel or Phaneuf, the powerplay sputtering, and having Lupul out injured. Their struggles have been balanced by some good starts (you forgot Grabovski and JVR - Thank you Holmgren) but you'd expect that to even out over a normal season. What might help the Leafs' overachieve is that a 48 game season leaves less time for outliers to flatten out. In an 82 game season the Leafs' potential might be just missing the playoffs but in a short season...who knows.
- Given that Dave Nonis was dropped into a rather unusual situation just before the season started, do you see him trying to make a mark with a splashy trade this year or will this be a nibbling-around-the-edges season where there aren't a ton of moves due to the circumstances?
Looking at Nonis' track record in Vancouver, I wouldn't expect a splashy deal to mark the beginning of his term as GM. The Lupul extension might actually count for that but I wouldn't bank on a trade scenario. If he was so inclined , I think that Luongo might have been that trade but it looks like he's willing to bide his time and get a better sense of what the team has during this season.
Have a question you'd like to have answered in an upcoming edition of Three Questions? Contributions are welcome - bdleblanc at gmail dot com.