Hello. In advance of tonight's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, I sent emails to the fine folks at Pension Plan Puppets. Both PPP (@mlse) and Chemmy (@felixpotvin) sent back answers within a few minutes of each other. Their mistake is our reward, because now we've got a double dose of information!
1. The Leafs look like a decent (dare I say playoff-bound?) team this year. What do you think is the main reason for their success?
Chemmy: Goaltending and puck luck, mostly. Big performances from JVR and Kadri have been pleasant to watch, and James Reimer picked up where he left off before getting kneed in the head by Brian Gionta who played for Boston College and the Canadiens and is thus an objectively bad person.
PPP: Improved personnel, unreal goaltending, and good luck. The team looks set to benefit from a shorter season compared to a team like Minnesota in that although a lot of reliable indicators are pointed in the wrong direction there might not be enough games for them to be hurt by the correction.
2. Would you say the Leafs swindled the Oilers in the Mike Brown trade?
Chemmy: Swindled seems like strong words for a fourth round pick, but we've certainly enjoyed the Oilers' bloggers take on the deal.
PPP: In that the Leafs gave up nothing and got something, yes. Brown was apparently really liked in the dressing room so there may have been some unknown benefit to the team in having him around but on the ice he wasn't even as good as Frazer McLaren (hint: that's bad)
3. Go ahead and tell me about Nazem Kadri and any other new faces in the blue and white.
Chemmy: Aside from JVR the "new" guys on the Leafs are Nazem Kadri who is shining in a sheltered third line role for the Leafs. Kadri skated about a third of the season between Leo Komarov and Colton Orr and is still point per game which is incredible. The Leafs' new D are mostly AHL castoffs, although with Liles in the press box Cody Franson has been playing well.
PPP: Nazem "The Dream" Kadri will be the wisp of a forward that carves open defences with his vision and torches opposition goalies with a deceptive wrist shot. Other new faces include Mark "I'll smash you all over the ice" Fraser, Frazer "I just killed a man" McLaren, Mike "Thank God I'm not on the top pairing" Kostka, Korbinian "Fuck, why am I on the top pairing" Holzer, Leo "Everyone eventually wants to kill me" Komarov, and James van "Homlgren will soon be receiving a lot of pictures because of me" Riemsdyk. They've combined, along with James "The Mennonite Pope" Reimer and Ben "Likely An Atheist" Scrivens to take the Leafs to where they are now. Also, Cody "Carlyle actually benched me in favour of Komisarek too" Franson is tearing it up.
So there you have it. For all of your leafs info, check out Pension Plan Puppets, the Leafs SBNation blog. Careful, they bite.