Monday, November 19, 2012

2012-2013 NHL Season: What We're All Missing, Part 10: The Maple Leafs

By Pete Dombrosky (@Pete_Dombrosky)

NHL/NHLPA talks are set to resume today to discuss the CBA, and of course, What We're All Missing has taken its cue. Be sure to check in with Parts 1-9, all from SBz perennial NHL BRO Pete Dombrosky, after you hear what the Toronto Maple Leafs fans are missing during the lockout.

What We're All Missing, Part 1, Avalanche, Blackhawks, Blue Jackets
What We're All Missing, Part 2, Blues, Bruins, Canadiens, Canucks
What We're All Missing, Part 3, Capitals, Coyotes, Devils

What We're All Missing, Part 4, Ducks, Flames

What We're All Missing, Part 5, The Flyers
What We're All Missing, Part 6, The Islanders

What We're All Missing, Part 7, The Jets

Part 10: The Toronto Maple Leafs
2011-2012 record: (35-37-10) 80 points
Playoffs: Failed to qualify

The Leafs weren’t a very good team last season, but no one really expected them to be. They have some of the most devoted fans in hockey, and that helps because the team hasn’t reached the postseason since 2004. However, there was a pair of surprises last season, which came in the form of two offensively productive centers: Phil Kessel and Joffery Lupul combined for 62 goals, 87 assists and 149 points in the 2011-12 campaign. The additional help of Mikhail Grabovski’s 23 goals and Clarke MacArthur’s 20 tallies led Toronto to 10th in the NHL in goals per game (2.77), which is pretty respectable considering all that offense came out of nowhere. Toronto fans would love to see if their team can generate just as much, if not more offense this season.

But you know what Leafs fans should look forward to more than anything this season? The Winter Classic. Now in its sixth year, this marquee event has become one of the most popular in professional sports. It continues to be one of the most-watched hockey games of the season and for the fans who get the opportunity to attend the game, it’s an unforgettable and surreal experience.

Unfortunately as of now, the WC is canceled due to lockout carryover. Leafs supporters should be counting the days until January 1, when they would have been able to turn on NBC and see their team clash against the rival Red Wings in front of more than 100,000 fans at the Big House in Michigan. Sure, Detroit would have had the home ice/field advantage, but so did the Sabres in 2008, the Blackhawks in 2009, the Penguins in 2011 and the Flyers in 2012. In fact, only once has the home team (the Bruins) won out of the five years the game has been played.

There is a chance games pickup on Dec. 2. If that is the case, the Winter Classic could be reinstated. If so, the advantage would have to be for the Maple Leafs. But of course, if the game isn’t played, then it’s advantage: no one (especially NOT Leafs fans).

At least, for now, Leafs fans can kick back and watch 12 minutes of Phil Kessel goals from the 2011-2012 season (yes, all of them) in one YouTube embedment:

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