Monday, October 02, 2006

Analysis of Leafs Schedule: First Half

First off, the official schedule ^ is available from mapleleafs.com ^. You can even download it and add it to Microsoft Outlook, which is handy for figuring out when you will need to skip out on your kids lame school plays and, of course, your date nights with your mistress, playboy.

In this first installment, let's examine the first-half of the season.

First Half

October
The boys in blue start the season with 7 of their first 10 at home, and 8 of 13 at home for the month of October. As many expect, this opening month will give us a true barometer as to how the re-tooled defense, the weak wingers and the re-born Raycroft will perform for the balance. Also featured are two back-to-back tilts with the Senators, who for all their post-season impotence have managed to make spanking the Leafs by more than a touchdown a regular occurrence. The Leafs play 10 of these 13 games against teams who finished higher in the standings, which means that the Buds will be lucky to get away with a +500 record.

Highlight Game: Jerome Iginla comes to town with his new partner in crime, Alex Tanguay on Saturday, October 14. With the Flames being the class of the West, this game at home should be a great tilt.

Prediction: A bunch of home games, but very tough opponents: 6W-7L (yes, I know that there are overtime games, etc, but count them for what they are, a win or a loss).

November
Playing 14 games in November, the Leafs spend the majority of the time on the road (8 of the 14), including a swing through the south-east. Finally, a few 'gimme' games against teams the Leafs should be beating every night (if they have any hope of making the playoffs), but also two games vs the Sabres and one against the Devils, which have been automatic losses for the Leafs for the past 100 years.

Highlight Game: Thursday, November 9 the Leafs play in the Gawden/Fleet/TD North/Purina Dog Chow Center in Boston in what is Andrew Raycroft's homecoming of sorts. Here's hoping he can stick them with a goose-egg.

Prediction: Venturing out onto the road, with mixed results: 7W-7L.

December
13 games here, 7 of them at home. The trend of no long home-stands continues, with the longest through this part of the season being just two games. Three sets of back-to-back games during this month will lead to a team feeling like they can never build any momentum. Some winnable games in here, especially in the latter half of the month.

Highlight Game: Saturday, December 9, the Leafs play at the Joe in Detroit. Always a big tilt when these two teams meet, this game could be a watershed moment for the Leafs in determining if their rather slim playoff hopes are justified.

Prediction: The first positive month, 8W-5L.

So there you have the first 40 games of the season. According to my fearless predictions, we are looking at a record of around 21W-19L, which would look to be a bubble team at best to make the playoffs, given that the buds had no extended road trips in here, and played 21 of 40 at home. Yeesh, pretty grim stuff. One more prediction. I expect Damian Cox to write his first JFJ obituary in mid-November, telling his readers how silly JFJ was to fail to bring back Allison when it is/was clear that the Leafs lacked in scoring. *shudder*

Look for our second-half analysis tomorrow.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

That's pretty brave of you to say Cox will wait until November. Hell, if the Leafs get shutout in 2 of their first 3 games next Monday's Star will feature a special "where are the goals?" section.

The Mad Hockey Blogger said...

That's true. Cox tends to come across more and more preachy as time goes on, as if he has all the answers and everyone else is an idiot.

I am not saying he isn't right some of the time, but it gets a little old after a while.

ninja said...

I'll just say Damien is aptly named. Great idea with the schedule preview, btw.

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