Monthly Archives: November 2011
Tonight we welcomed Doug Gilmour, Joe Nieuwendyk and Eddie Belfour to the Hockey Hall of Fame. All three players have a very strong Toronto connection but – next to Wendel Clark – Killer will always remain one of the biggest Leaf heroes of all time. Contrary to popular belief, Doug Gilmour wasnâ€™t nicknamed Killer because of the look he gave other players, or because of his style of play. Brian Sutter gave him that nickname because he thought he looked like Charles Manson. At first he even called him Charlie.
Gilmour turned this franchise around, and made it credible again. His work ethic and style of play made him unforgettable, even if, like myself, you only got to see him play a few times. How could we forget Eddie the Eagle, or Crazy Eddie, who, besides being an All World goaltender, prolonged the stereotype of quirky goaltenders. Nieuwendyk played only one season in a Maple Leafs jersey, but that doesnâ€™t make his contribution to this great game any less notable. Congratulations to Mark Howe as well.
The Maple Leafs will honour Ed Belfour, Doug Gilmour and Joe Nieuwendyk prior to puckdrop tonight, as the trio will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday. The name Doug Gilmour speaks for itself in this city, and while perhaps better known as a Chicago Blackhawk, Dallas Star, or Calgary Flame respectively, the other two also gave the Toronto faithful some special moments, particularly for the younger generation of Leafs fans whose best playoff memories involve names like Ed Belfour and Joe Nieuwendyk. It should be an electric atmosphere in the ACC prior to puck drop; let’s hope the home side can feed off of the energy on this special Hockey Night in Canada.
Photo Credit: cbc.ca
Photo Credit: cbc.ca
How do we accurately evaluate this team? Just how good are we? If youâ€™re looking for me (or anyone else for that matter) to answer those questions right now youâ€™re setting yourself up for a pretty big disappointment.Â In light of recent events, pretty much any scenario is possible.
What if weâ€™re missing Reimer until February? How will the duo of Scrivens and, to a lesser degree, Gustavsson perform? Will Tim Connolly ever stay healthy for a considerable number of games? Is our record so far sustainable through 82 games? I canâ€™t answer that right now, nobody can. There’s too many variables involved. Should we look to the trade route? All I can speak to is the need to still improve further, which was always a part of the plan.
So the Leafs have goalie issues, who’d a thunk it?
The truth is, everyone and their grandmother knew Toronto was in goaltending trouble this summer because simply put, they went into the season without one single goalie in their organization who had established himself at the NHL level.
Potential is great, prospects are great, but the NHL is about results.
Don’t let an excellent game fool you, the Leafs are far from being out of the woods when it comes to their goalie dilemmas and unless Scrivens goes on a Reimer-esque run now (yeah, I said it), then the Leafs are going to continue to have problems.
AP Photo/Bill Boyce
AP Photo/Bill Boyce
Led by Phil Kessel and Ben Scrivens, another good “part game” from the Maple Leafs proved enough to escape St. Louis with the two points and put the Buds into a tie with Pittsburgh for second overall in the league standings, and first in the East.
That really is something, as outside of their win against Pittsburgh, we’re still awaiting that ever elusive convincing, 60-minute performance. Nevertheless, the Leafs sit 10-5-1. Let’s talk about how they got here; it certainly is an interesting story.
On a night where the coaching staff virtually put all our hopes (until Reimer comes back) in the hands of a rookie rather than our backup netminder, things seemed rather bleak. However, the outcome proved quite to the contrary as Scrivens was the key to a big win tonight. The Leafs needed this one.
Yesterday’s worrying story from The Star’s Dave Feschuk on James Reimer’s history of head injuries has been somewhat put to rest in a TSN article tonight. In a story posted around 6:30 p.m., agent Ray Petkau called the injury history overblown, and the word is that Reimer has not experienced a headache in a number of days. Petkau expects Reimer to return to the ice “soon,” and while a specific time table still remains ambiguous, it’s somewhat reassuring after a few days of panicked calls for Burke to acquire goaltending help.
The Leafs are turning back to Ben Scrivens in the meantime, as the 25 year old will start his third NHL game tonight in St. Louis. Solid, if unspectacular goaltending (i.e. without the weak, team-deflating goals) would be extremely useful at this stage as Burke is not in an advantageous bargaining position, nor do we want to rush Reimer back. A steely performance against the Blue Jackets gave way to part games against the Bruins and Panthers in which he looked more like a goalie with only 43 AHL games to his name. The Bruins game was a bit of a write off, and he came into cold against the Panthers, so we can always hope.
RYAN REMIORZ/THE CANADIAN PRESS
Dave Feschuk of the Toronto Star released an interesting article on Wednesday night pertaining to the Leafs’ James Reimer, and some worries his mother may have about his current health situation. And to be honest, it will (and should) send fans into quite the panic.
After dropping two straight lopsided games this past week, it seems the team is finally slowing down, or regressing to the mean (as many would put it). Of course we didn’t believe this first place pace was sustainable, but nor did we believe the drop-off would be so steep.
Now, I’m fully aware that it’s only two brutal outings, but combine a snake-bitten group of forwards – who shouldn’t be cold for too long, thankfully – and some horrendous goaltending, and the Leafs seem to be gearing up for their regular November routine. The only problem is, they have zero idea when Reimer can come back and bust them out of this, and December’s schedule is a hell of a lot rougher than this current month. Even with goal-scoring eventually getting back on track, they’re still taking an enormous chance by putting any hopes in the Monster, or Scrivens for that matter. So, maybe something needs to be done quickly.
That falls on Burke. Wilson can toy with the lines and try to get his players back on track as soon as possible, but with basically a cardboard cut-out between the pipes, it won’t make a lot of difference in the win column.
Where’s Reimer? Can you find him? I know the Maple Leafs sure wish they could, as they have “no idea” when he’ll be back.
Click to enlarge.
Photo: Abelimages/Getty Images
It was the story of Jose Theodore â€“ who looked soooooo 2002 last night â€“ as the Florida Panthers whipped the Toronto Maple Leafs 5 â€“ 1.Â This is the second Leaf loss in a row, and the second game in a row that the Leafs lost by more than a field goal.Â The Leafs (skaters, anyway) played better than their result, shutting out a powerplay that came into last nightâ€™s game with a 23.5% success rate and outshooting the Cats 39 â€“ 28.
However, as Clint Eastwood said in Unforgiven, â€œdeserveâ€™s got nothing to do with itâ€ and while the Leafs had a clear advantage in puck possession and offensive chances, their inadequate goaltending tandem didnâ€™t just hurt the team, it sunk them.
The last home game before November 11th, this was the night the Toronto Maple Leafs organization honored the soldiers who fought for their country since World War I. A classy ceremony hosted by Andy Frost led the way into this hockey game. I too am grateful for all who fought in the World War II to stop a great evil from spreading throughout the world, liberating parts of Europe in the process. The positives end here.
Photo: AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee
The Leafs host the Panthers tonight in what will be labeled a good test of character after Saturday’s debacle against Boston. Teams (even good ones) lose two games in a row all the time, but coming off a 7-0 licking in their own barn we’ll expect a much better effort and “compete level” out of the team tonight. Interviews with the players called the game a lesson in what happens when they sit back and don’t take their game to the opposition. The Bruins for their part did a good job preventing that with a strong trap game to which the Leafs had no answer.
It has been a point of particular emphasis from Ron Wilson to respond to losses with urgency in order to avoid the type of extended losing slump that killed the Leafs’ playoff hopes last November, and so far this season the Leafs have not lost twice in a row. They’ll look to keep it that way tonight against the Panthers, who after an off-season of lavish spending seem like an at least marginally improved team, sitting at 6-4-3 a month into the 2011-12 campaign. They’re coming off three straight shootout loses headed into tonight, but do have points in six of their last seven.
After the jump, Clayton Hansler checks in with some thoughts on Frattin, his recall and his brief stay with the Marlies:
Photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star
You’ve probably heard the news by now, but Tim Connolly is out 10-14 days with another (but different) upper body injury. Wait, no… that’s not news at all. Connolly’s last injury, listed as a day-to-day upper body ailment to start, ended up needing a protracted, near-full month recovery which saw him miss the opening eight games of 2011-12 before his eventual return on October 27. Let’s hope this injury doesn’tÂ prolongedlyÂ nag Tiny Tim and he can return within the projected time frame.
With Connolly back on the shelf, Â the good money is on a recall for Matt Frattin, who in three games with the Marlies scored his first two goals at the professional level. After failing to get on the scoresheet in his first two games with the Marlies (and posting a -4 against San Antonio), that’s what Leafs brass hoped to see from Frattin upon his demotion. The Joey Crabb/Matt Frattin swap last week was by all accounts a great little move, as Crabb rode a hot hand and chipped in two goals in his first two games up, while Frattin (hopefully) gained some scoring confidence after learning his great shot can go in at this level, too, and not just on college goalies.
The effect we as people have on this planet is pretty big. But, some things we just can’t control. Some things we can just deal with. Big losses are a part of life. Be it personal losses, losses for the global hockey community or just crushing defeats in a hockey game. They will happen regardless of our best wishes, desires or hopes.
In this life, no path is without roadblocks, no bridge without holes. Each hole we step in gives us an opportunity to learn and more importantly, to grow stronger. What’s important is how you deal with those losses. Each and every stumble, tragedy or loss gives us a chance to honor ourselves (and those lost) by making the most of our opportunity here on this Earth.
Not much to say after a loss like this. Stupid Bruins, how dare they play a normal hockey game?Â RegardlessÂ of the result, here is something every Leafs fan should read.
Photo: Terry Gilliam/AP
The NHL’s best team prepares to take on the league’s second worst at the Air Canada Centre tonight. Â That sentence alone should bring a smile to every Leafs fan’s face, regardless of the significant portion of the season that has yet to be played. Â Of course, even though the Bruins are currently among the bottom feeders in the NHL, the reigning Stanley Cup champs will surely be a tough test for Toronto’s young club. Â With starting goalie James Reimer still recovering from whiplash, Ben Scrivens will get his second consecutive start. Â More surprisingly, Luke Schenn will sit as a healthy scratch, allowing Cody Franson to draw back into the lineup alongside rookie Jake Gardiner.
Photo Credit: cbc.ca
Photo Credit: cbc.ca
As things stand right now, Joffrey Lupul is turning out to be quite a coup by our general manager. Personally, this writer was always convinced that Lupul was more than just a throw in or a salary dump in the supposed “Gardiner-Beauchemin” deal. At the time of the deal I compared him to an expensive used car that came with a ton of cool additional features (Gardiner). If the car performed as expected, nobody would knock the car, regardless of the money it cost to buy it or the miles it had already logged. It would only get better when you put some miles on it and got used to how it runs.
I argued on his behalf on numerous hockey forums, twitter, etc., mostly because I believed a player with his talent and sublime shot deserved a better look than what he got with the Ducks after he came back from a blood infection incurred during back surgery. Just to jolt the memory, injuries limited Lupul to just 23 games during the 2009â€“10 season, as he missed the final 59 games along with the first 28 games of the next season due to the infection.
Andy Arias, better known as @rallycap_andy in the Twitter-verse, is a self-proclaimed “mahoosive sports tweeter and jersey enthusiast/snob.” He agreed to share some tips with the MLHS community on the fine art of spotting authentic jerseys versus knock-offs when considering a purchase.
First and foremost let me say this: I understand. Buying a jersey isn’t cheap and if there is the possibility to save a few bucks of course you’re going to take it. A quick check online at the Maple Leafs Shop and you’ll find out that a replica jersey with your favourite player’s name on the back will cost you around 200 dollars. An authentic? North of 300. You love your Leafs, but paying rent this month sure would be great too. So you Google “Cheap Leafs jerseys” and you get all sorts of options. But how do you know if what you’re looking at is the real deal?
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
It feels good, doesn’t it? The Toronto Maple Leafs were certainly outplayed by the Columbus Blue Jackets for a good portion of the game and their specialty teams are still holding the team back, but the standings don’t lie – the team is winning consistently at the end of the day. Torontoâ€™s team is a fast, high-powered, offensive juggernaut that has made the NHL stand up and take notice (their 45 goals put them 2nd in the league next to Philly). That isn’t going to go away from what we have seen from them so far in the early season.
Enter: Ben Scrivens
Scrivens has lived up to the promise that the Toronto Maple Leafs front office and coaching staff have seen in him since they picked him up as an undrafted free agent. Scrivens plays a Francois Allaire style that has made his transition from College, to the ECHL, to the AHLâ€”and now the NHL, a natural progression. His style is reminiscent of that of James Reimer; while not having the same size advantage as the other Toronto Maple Leafs goaltenders, Scrivens is positionally sound, economical and has a reasonable amount of athleticism. He played pretty much a perfect game, much more than youâ€™d expect from someone making his first NHL start. Kudos to the coaching staff for starting him in such an enviable position. On the road, against the worst team in the league, after a win. After that, it was all Scrivens.
Back to back in Columbus. A beast that is Rick Nash was no match for Crabb people and Big Ben Scrivens â€“ no? Ok then. Read more about it down below.
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