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Pierre LeBrun suggested that the Maple Leafs are playing like a juggernaut right now, which sent understandably pessimistic Toronto fans into a tailspin, as they fear jinxing their team before another anxiety-wrecked postseason.
On the latest episode of 'In the Mentions', Omar addresses the use of the 'juggernaut' word, puts some respect on Alexander Kerfoot, and explains why he for one is all in on the Leafs this season.
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- Hey, everyone. Welcome back to another episode of "In The Mentions." I'm TicTacTOmar. And the Toronto Maple Leafs are good, like, really good. Like, out of 14 games they played in November, they won 12 of them good. And let me just, you know, share a secret between you and I. I'm not worried, which is a weird feeling because any time the Leafs are, you know, winning a lot of games, going on these hot streaks, there is some pessimism.
You, kind of, wait for the trap game. You wait for the, oh, the-- the team that has a lot of rests there. Or maybe has a couple of players who've never played in the NHL before. We're waiting for that moment where we say, up, up, there it is. That's where the Leafs are going to lose.
But the thing about this-- you know, this latest run for the Leafs is this doesn't really feel like a stretch. It feels like they're legitimate. The way that they're playing, the way that they've been very committed to defense and making Jack Campbell's life-- life easier. And at the same time, when those defensive breakdowns do happen, Jack Campbell is there to make the saves. There is scoring throughout the lineup, not only the big lines. The power play is scoring. The penalty kill is being great.
And it just really feels like, for the first time, the Leafs are really good, which, kind of, ties into Pierre LeBrun's tweet, where he used the j word. You know what I'm talking about. He called the Leafs a juggernaut. And if you're on Twitter last season, you know that. You know the last time someone called the Leafs a juggernaut, things went south. Chris Johnson, I'm talking to you.
And a lot of Leafs fans didn't necessarily know how to take this because, again, of what happened last year. But it just feels different. There's something about the Leafs that just feel more legitimate, that feel more secure, that feels more together. And I think when you listen to their, you know, pre and post-game conversations, when you see Sheldon Keefe, the number one word that they're using all the time is consistency.
And I think for no-- I think we've been fooled in the past of thinking that the Leafs have actually been consistent. But this year or this season, I really think they've achieved that. And maybe, just maybe, we're actually on the start of something really special for this team.
- So the Vezina Award, a trophy that we've, as Leafs fans, have always seen other goaltenders get all the time, as they're recognized by other general managers of being the best at their position. Is Jack Campbell in that conversation? Look at the numbers. He's tied for first amongst wins and goaltenders. He has the highest save percentage. He has a really low goals against average, which, again, we don't necessarily think is a goaltending stat, which, kind of, more so speaks to how the Leafs have been playing in front of him.
But-- and again, this is a-- when-- when it comes to goaltenders who have played at least 15 games, Jack Campbell is up there. And it's not like he has to make these miraculous saves. But when he does make the saves, he's very calm and collected. And it's almost as if he gives the team a reassurance that, hey, I'm in net. Don't worry. I got this.
And I think that's something that, again, we haven't seen with the Leafs so far. And the-- and it's getting to the point now where it's not only fans who are noticing and actually having, though-- you know-- having the talk through the conversations of, hey, Jack Campbell should win the Vezina.
It's actually other people. It's news outlets. It's analysts who are saying, Jack Campbell is in that conversation. So what does he have to do to-- to, you know, keep that up? Because, again, it is only still the beginning of the season. Who knows what will happen at the end.
But I think Jack Campbell has done enough to definitely be in the conversation as being one of the-- one of the top goaltenders in the league to win the Vezina. Now if he continues that, that only does a good thing for us and does a good thing for the team. Because that shows he's still having a great season.
And it might be a big, big recognition. Because, you know, it's been a long time since the Leafs have had a-- you know, a Vezina winning goaltender. I mean, the Calder was cool and the Rocker was awesome with Auston Matthews. But a Vezina, I mean, that's a whole new conversation.
- Alexander Kerfoot, which, I, in the past, referred to him as that person that we kept so we didn't have Jack-- Jared McCann anymore. Do you remember that? Do you remember that whole thing with the expansion draft? We traded for Jared McCann. We looked at his highlights and said, oh my god, Jared McCann would be sick. And then we lost him to keep Kerfoot.
And at first, it was very frustrating, especially considering how good of a start Jared McCann was having. And, you know, the team isn't as good right now, right? But Kerfoot has had a very sneaky, good season to the point where he's actually on a career high. After-- you know, after playing his 300th NHL game, he's actually now on pace for 46 points.
The thing that stands out the most about Alex Kerfoot is his speed, both offensively and defensively. He really uses it to get himself in these really great positions. And we, kind of, see him when-- you know, when he takes off along the boards, gets past defenders, is first on the forward check. Even on the penalty kill. He's had a lot of shorthanded breakaways. And yeah, he hasn't scored on-- on all of them. But it's still been a really good and effective use of his speed on the ice.
And then, of course, he's-- he's just a regular, nice guy. You know, he hooked up William Nylander with that empty net goal the other day. He didn't have to. He-- he completely had that on his own. But he realized he had a-- he already had a goal. Well, might as well hook up his linemate with one as well.
So with Alex Kerfoot playing the way that he's playing, it really makes you think about some of the possible moves the Leafs have to do come trade deadline. Do they really need to upgrade on-- upgrade the top six on the left-- on the left-hand side? Or can we be comfortable with Alex Kerfoot once the playoffs starts? And I think as-- you know, based off of everything that we've seen so far from him, I think there's actually a lot of evidence that shows that, hey, you know, maybe Alex Kerfoot might be the one to go with.
- After the Leafs beat the San Jose Sharks, I tweeted that, I'm all in. I'm all in on this team. I believe that they can do it. I believe that they're different. And I believe that they've shown me enough to put my confidence in. And I think-- I don't think that was wrong. I really don't think that that was premature.
And yeah, you know, there are a lot of Leafs fans who, you know, share the same sentiment. There are others who are still a little pessimistic. And there are some who said, hey, it's still November. And I get it. But again, there's something about this Leafs team that just feels different, that feels that they're worth believing in.
And you know what? I really don't have any, you know, negative thoughts that that's going to change. I think the team has gotten more mature. And I think the team understands that that-- there isn't enough time. I mean, look at players like Wayne Simmonds and Jason Spezza, who have been waiting years and years to get their opportunity to win a Stanley Cup.
I think the team is taking a look at themselves, and looked around at the faces in the locker room, and thought, you know, we really need to change something here. You know, we really need to, kind of, step up our game and be a more reliable team overall. I think that's why players like Auston Matthews, you know, even though he is still scoring goals, isn't necessarily concerned with the fact that he's not scoring as many goals as he's used to.
And I think the belief in this team has changed. And I think, you know-- and, again, this might-- could completely blow up on our face. But right now, I'm all in on this Leafs team. And I'm actually looking forward to what they do in April. Oh my god. But what if I'm wrong? What if this whole thing was just for fake? What if-- you know, what if after this, they lose a whole bunch of games? They lose, like, 10 games in a row? And the people are still throwing all their jerseys on the ice.
And what if-- oh my gosh. What if they make the playoffs? Actually, no, they make the playoffs. They're up 3-0. And then they lose. They completely blow it. They-- every single game is a shutout. And then they lose. They have to trade everyone. Dubas gets fired. Keefe gets fired.
Matthews gets traded. Marner gets traded. [? Nylander ?] just gets traded. What if all of this is for nothing? What if-- what if they put us in this false sense of security to make us believe, again, that they're going to win after they just blow it? Ah, I can't do this. Wait. No, no, it's positive. It's positive. Maybe and maybe not. I don't know. Help me.