Some notes and links for your Thursday evening:
– There was another Lupul injury scare this afternoon, as Joffrey sustained a bruised foot after taking a shot to the skate in practice. No skate guards, Lups? You’re lucky the Leafs haven’t permanently placed you in a protective bubble by now. Put on the damn guards.
It doesn’t sound too serious, and Lupul traveled to Columbus with the team, but his status for tomorrow night’s game isn’t certain.
– In unsurprising news, Morgan Rielly is staying past 9 games. It could just be me thinking of a few anecdotal examples (Hamilton, Grigorenko), but it seems teams are less hesitant to burn the first year of an entry level contract these days. Could it be because bringing the second contact a year closer for top youngsters isn’ t necessarily a bad thing for the team? If you can sign these high-potential guys when they’re really young to a longer term deal and keep the AAV on the cap hit down by pointing to a lack of experience/proven body of work, there might be a benefit there for the team over the long haul. JvR broke the league at 20 and played full time from then on, but his contract is a bargain for the next several years because of the timing of his deal – signed at a younger age.
– For now Rielly’s presence on the Leafs benefits both the team and player to my eyes, but it gets more interesting when Mark Fraser returns from injury.
The Rielly-Franson pairing has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride, and I wouldn’t mind seeing Phaneuf-Gunnarsson; Gardiner-Franson; Fraser-Rielly, with Rielly moving to the right (As Anthony mentioned on the Hangout, he played some in junior). Ranger, Fraser and Rielly can rotate in and out as performance or injury dictates, but will the Leafs be hesitant to sit Rielly if only for the bad optics?
As for Gardiner, he’s put together a quietly solid last four or five games to my eyes. I’d see if Franson and Gardiner can rekindle what they had in the playoffs. For me, the veteran in Franson has been as big of an issue defensively as the rookie has.
– In saying that, it’s amazing how Franson continues to produce offensively. He’s now at 8 assists in 10 games, and he’s done it pretty quietly. He’s tied with Erik Karlsson for 4th in scoring among defencemen and has an amazing 37 points in his last 55 games played. Prorated, that’s a 55-point pace over 82.
– Mark Fraser has started skating, by the way. The other member of the walking wounded, Nikolai Kulemin, skated yesterday and is 7-10 days away from returning.
– The HBO 24/7 start date has been announced: December 15. Check out the broadcast schedule here, as well as a 24/7 clip from 2011-12 where Dion literally ends Michael Sauer’s career and John Tortorella instructs his team not to, “shit [their] pants on Kessel.”
– David Clarkson returns tomorrow, and the Leafs are showing no hesitation in hyping him up as if the second coming of Christ himself. Seriously, it’s exciting to finally get the $5.25 million man in the lineup.
Clarkson has yet to play a meaningful game in a Leaf sweater, but what I’ve liked about him so far is his total embracing of the market pressures and leadership role he’s supposed to play on this team. Even if his contract will make it tough to live up to expectations, he’s done nothing but own those expectations. It will be nice for this team to have another leader in the dressing room to go along with Lupul and Phaneuf.
Phaneuf is a tank and played a huge role in the Leafs’ comeback on Tuesday, but it can be awfully hard to provide that intangible contribution called “changing the momentum for your team” when he’s tasked with shutting down the opposition’s best players from shift to shift. Clarkson is an easier position to lead from. I hope he ramps up the intensity level a notch tomorrow night and that his teammates feed off of it.
Rielly after getting the news that he’s staying:
Carlyle after practice:
Those two hits by Chara tonight were unbelievably dirty and no penalty. What gives? He hits a guy square in the head well after the puck was played...there is virtually no difference between that and what Scott did. Then he comes back later and cross checks Hertl in the face after the whistle. What gives? Last year in game seven he raked his stick over JVR's face way behind the play in front of the ref and no call. Then they call penalties on the most minor taps of sticks on sticks??
Chara should be suspended for both hits tonight? Where is this commitment to protecting players heads?
So, from what I can see, it looks like HBO will air the 24/7 series starting on December 14th, while Sportsnet won't air it until the 15th.Just another reason to watch the HBO version.
As much as I don't like Scott, I have to agree with his defense that he's just given a role and tries to do it. He wasn't considered a vicious goon / murderer before Rolston came along....
Someone really needs to start compiling a list of all the ridiculous things Chara gets away in a season.
And just after I compliment them, Kane and Byfuglien combine for a disastrous gaffe in their own zone that leads to the Preds winning in OT.
Well it's great to hear that our injured guys are coming back in soon. Adding Clarkson, Kulemin, and Fraser, even McLaren back into the line-up is just great. Knowing Rielly is staying is another building block, even if it ends up being for depth at times or for some short stretches. With Gardiner and Ranger starting to settle in and make contributions our line-up has great balance. It's also been great to see that a kid like Leivo can hold his own as a 20 year old, and know that as a call up he can come in and have some goals in his stick. There is no doubt this team still has to show that it can be much better in many ways but I get the sense that is just around the corner.
We can play any way the game dictates:
Speedy scoring off the rush: Kessel, JVR, Lupul, Kadri, Raymond
Physical and skilled forwards: JVR, Lupul, Clarkson, maybe Kulemin too
Elite playmakers: Kadri, Kessel, JVR, Lupul
Guys who hit and finish checks: Clarkson, Kulemin, Bolland, McClement, Kadri, Bozak, Orr, Phaneuf, Fraser, Franson, Ranger, Gunnarson
Forwards who can effectively cycle the puck: McClement, Clarkson, Bolland, Kulemin, JVR, Lupul, Kadri, Bozak, McLaren
Elite defending forwards with size and speed: McClement, Kulemin
Savvy defensive forwards: Bolland, Bozak
PMD: Gardiner, Franson, Rielly, Phaneuf
Physical D: Phaneuf, Fraser, Ranger, Franson
Heavyweights: Orr, McLaren, Fraser
Middleweights: Clarkson, Phaneuf
Goaltending: Reimer, Bernier
Overall we are pretty decent everywhere. I think our D will look even better when we get our forwards to help more effectively and when Ranger and Gardiner get acclimated. Gardiner gives us some fantastic mobility back there, and Ranger gives us a legit physical guy who has some skills too...very much needed. If Ranger and Gards progress I think our D is fine. If I had to pick one area to improve or add to, I think I would have to say another elite defending forward with size and speed, preferably one who is strong on faceoffs. If there were such a player available I think the Leafs would make a strong push to get him. Cap wise they may have to find a way to sweeten the pot and move Liles. It could also involve moving Gunnarsson but that could really damage or defense depth...never a good thing. Ideally any player acquired would hopefully be able to help 2 or 3 years until Gauthier arrives.
What do you guys think?
@Xxxxxnew dont worry it will become normal now. But of course the Leafs will be doing it wrong somehow
@Xxxxxnew And I thought Leafs are special
@Pent_House first of 30+ right? ;)
@B_Leaf 2 NHL's man.....star players are subject to a different set of rules
@Pent_House Quick sucks
@ConnorCrisp thats impossible, we are the only ones that do that
@.JVR. On my jailbroken Apply TV.
Uh oh...they're -12 now.
I had no real opinion of Eakins prior to this year, but I thought he acted like a douche in the Eller situation.
Uh oh...your gonna get in trouble around here talking about Eakins that way! I agree with your statement, at some point you have to look at the coaching not just the players...
Have you seen his dive collection video...Even I was surprised, the guy must have some Italian in him.
@Pent_House 2 for 5 bucks? :)
@Pent_House And the new top line in Edmonton is a collective -6 against Washington.
@rustynail Cue a bunch of people asking about Carter, not realizing he's been a winger for 3 years now.
@rustynail How can that idiot commentator blame Carle for that gaffe? He passes it back to his D partner who can't handle it and deflects it in his own net. Past Bishop who should have been able to get in front as well.
@djamon Ron Wilson needs a job
@djamon He signed a 1 year extension for just this season. So he's a lame duck coach, I do believe.
He wasn't wrong, I agree with everything Eakins said about Eller. But on the other hand it doesn't seem like something a coach would focus on... Leave that banter to the players.
I didn't really mind it, because he was sticking it to a MTL player... But it did seem a little far.
But hey, when your struggling with consistency and getting your top players to play you'll run with anything that takes focus away from their shit play.
While I'm on this soap box...when will the msm start talking about how bad the situation is in edmonton instead of constantly bringing out the fact that they will be good, at some point..?
aaaaand vent over
@Bon Scott was a Leaf fan I think it might be a little more than 5. Apparently he was given a bit of a verbal warning after the donnybrook against the Leafs. Even though he wasn't suspended for anything, the league recognized that he was the catalyst and had acted like an idiot.
@Cameron19 When you openly admit you have no idea what to do to get your players to play better it's a bad sign. He's such a dick in the media too...I've never seen him praise a player. The last game the best thing he had to say about it was he really like the line combos. I mean...jeez.
@Cameron19 Fair enough...but he was the only forward I saw back-checking.
@Cameron19 Admittedly I haven't seen a lot of the Jets this year, but when I watched Jokinen was maybe their best player.
@djamon @Cameron19 The thing is, he's visibly frustrated now, and trying to put the pressure on management. They've basically done nothing to help him for 3 years now. The only changes have been slow, and internal, or garbage UFA signings like Jokinen. In 3 years, the only halfway decent additions have been Setoguchi and Frolik. Just to put that into perspective, Frolik played on Chicago's 4th line.
@djamon @Cameron19 He praises quite often. He's been glowing about Kane and Byfuglien this year, and rightfully so. But he's known as a huge softie here, so the media really likes to show him being a grump because it's out of character. Winnipeggers have an opinion almost opposite of yours.
But I've never liked the guy and want him gone.