A couple of days ago, the CHL, in consultation with Hockey Canada, decided to ban goalies from the import draft beginning in 2014. Due to the lack of Canadian goaltenders succeeding at the pro level, and in junior hockey, banning foreign goaltenders from playing in the CHL would afford more focus to and opportunity for Canadian goaltenders. Said differently, the CHL believes that by banning foreign goaltenders, Canadian goalies, in turn, will get more playing and development time. [more…]
With the NHL Entry Draft 2013 less than a month away, many Leafs fans are amusing themselves with thoughts of who the Leafs should draft with the 21st overall pick, or of how we might be able to trade-up to grab a more desirable player. Leading up to the draft, I've tried my best to keep up with the prospects and have gotten a sense of where the "experts" think these young hockey players might be selected. We've also started our NHL Draft Profiles, with the next coming later on today. Many have compared this draft to the 2003 draft, where ample high end talent was available into the late first round and the likes of Shea Weber, Corey Crawford, Patrice Bergeron and David Backes were snatched up in round 2. In other words, if the hype is true this draft offers major opportunities for those teams that get their selections right. [more…]
As most of you know, we usually have the Leafs Roundtable on Thursday morning and it's something we plan, and hope, to continue with in the future. I love asking questions but sometimes the lull of the off-season, and the breadth of analysis in our blogging community, leaves you with a limited number of questions and in a state of psychosis (probably induced by my finals). Now, all this is going to change as the 2013 Entry Draft approaches and we've still got tons of Player Reviews and NHL Draft Profiles lined up for you guys, so stay tuned. [more…]
Our next Player Review takes a look at one of the newest members of the Toronto Maple Leafs, James van Riemsdyk. Acquired in exchange for Luke Schenn on June 23rd, 2012, the former second overall choice in 2007 was brought in to augment the forward corps with skill, enhanced size and net-front presence. His regular season stats (18G 14A) were good for third in team-scoring, putting him on pace for 55 points (31G 24A) in an 82-game season, and he went on to lead the team in playoff scoring (2G, 7A). [more…]
It's not often that a tectonic shift like realignment occurs in the NHL, but when it does the competitive landscape is bound to shift, with winners and losers emerging from the rubble. From a scheduling and time-zone perspective, Detroit, Columbus, Winnipeg and Dallas stand to benefit the most. The new scheduling mandate will also ensure that fans in every city will get to watch every team play in their home building at least once, thereby allowing Coyotes fans to fill half the stadium to watch Sidney Crosby torch their team. All joking aside, this will be great for the game as the league's stars like Stamkos, Tavares, and Giroux will get more exposure around the league, and I'm all for growing the popularity of the game we all love.
Of particular interest to Leafs fans is the renewal of the Detroit-Toronto rivalry, an Original Six tradition that stretches back to the earliest days of the league. I may be too young to remember the battles of days gone by, but I'm not too young to appreciate the wondrous skills of Datsyuk and Zetterberg. I'm looking forward to the renewal of a storied rivalry and being able to one day tell me kids and grand kids about amazing playoff duels. However, as I watched the Red Wings dominate the Blackhawks in Game 3, it made me wonder what their introduction into Division C would mean for the Leafs. [more…]
I hope everyone is starting to feel a little better this morning. Plenty of eulogies were written and the last couple of days have been brutal to say the least. I haven't seen the Game in 6 or any of the player interviews. I barely have any idea what's going on in the playoffs right now, even as two two-way titans, Toews and Datsyuk, square off in the West.
Two things in my mind were abundantly clear following Monday night. You know that cliche players like to use after a tough loss? "Oh yeah, that was a character building game for our team..." Monday night was a character building game for Leafs Nation. In one game, we were subjected to the highest of highs, and the lowest of lows. The conclusion of the series had us scrambling emotionally, grasping for answers and words that just wouldn't come.
Although we may have experienced heartbreak, they do say that one must know bitter defeat before one can saviour the sweetness of victory, and there's plenty of historical examples across the world of sport that attest to that adage. For a young team like the Maple Leafs to start their comeback from 3-1 down and yet find a way to ultimately throw the series away, it now has a better idea both of what it takes to succeed in the playoffs while being dealt the harsh lesson that it's going to take that little bit more. [more…]
I remember it like it was last night. An ill-timed pinch, two Bruins streaking out of the zone, and a "dagger" into the heart of Leafs Nation after an overtime in which the Leafs carried the play. This one is going to take some time to digest. Although the boys battled their tails off, and went toe-to-toe with one of the favourites in the East, some mistakes and puck misfortune ultimately sealed the Leafs' fate after starting 2-0 up in a brilliant first period. [more…]
Game 1 is in the books and after a brief moment of post-season exaltation that was nine years in the making, the Leafs were handed a 4-1 drubbing from the Beantown Bruins. ICYMI, here's the first ever Playoffs Game in 10 in MLHS history via Mislav.
Not shockingly, this game resembled those from prior seasons, where 5-on-5 hockey looked like a Bruins powerplay, giveaways were in abundance, and the Leafs' top offensive players were unable to gain the Bruins zone with any sort of speed, aggression or consistency. At certain points in the game, even the Bruins' fourth line had the Leafs hemmed into their own zone. As Carlyle put it during his post-game presser, the team just seemed to implode and "guys were falling down" even when no one was around (psst...Barb Underhill). [more…]
I don't want to belabor what's already been talked about last night but what in high hell was that?!
As I'm sure most fans are doing these days, I've been incessantly checking the Eastern Conference standings just to get a snapshot of what the current match-ups are and to make guesses about how things might shake-out. Following last night's confounding loss, and before I lost my cool, I noticed something interesting about the recent records of the Eastern Conference playoff teams. In particular, if you combined the records of these playoffs teams' most recent games against non-playoff teams, you'll find that they've gone a dismal 1-5-1 against non-playoff teams. The list of playoffs teams that have played, and lost, their most recent games against a non-playoff team include the Penguins, Bruins, Canadiens, Leafs, Islanders, and Rangers. Now, this stat isn't meant to absolve the Leafs of an unacceptable performance against the Lighting, however it appears that they are not alone in their struggles to finish strong despite meagre competition. [more…]
Those of you who know me, or follow me on twitter (@mapleleafmuse), will know that I'm a bit of a podcast addict. Apart from the mainstream media stuff, I also love listening to fan-made content and in case you have yet to do so, I invite you all to check out Leaf Matters with Matteo and Michael. They've had some excellent guests and offer an alternative source for Leafs fans looking for informative, well-articulated, and lively discussions on all things Leafs.
On Monday April 22nd, 2013, Brian Burke took some time out of his busy schedule as a scout for the Anaheim Ducks and joined Chris Nilan, a former NHL enforcer, on TSN 690 Montreal to talk about the Leafs' playoff clinch and the Montreal Canadiens' recent struggles. Below is a slightly-shortened transcript I put together of the interview. If you want to hear the full 10-minute interview, it's available at the TSN Podcast Centre. [more…]
A couple of days ago, I had a pretty interesting conversation with @Dudgee (solid MLHS guy, give him a follow) when he first stated that he thought the Leafs brass should withhold judgement on Kessel and Bozak until we see them in the playoffs. This got me thinking, because Bozak is due for an extension and Kessel is going into the final year of his contract, ultimately with the prospects of a massive raise from his current $5.400mn salary. So I wondered - is Bozak destined to simply be a rental player for the Leafs during the playoffs, or is there anything he can do to solidify himself as a key cog in the organization?
Judging from most of the stuff I've heard on Twitter, if seems like the masses are ready to dispose of Bozak, and I wanted to reach out to our writers to see what they thought. From my side, regardless of whether Bozak stays, or not, the situation at centre will change - with Kadri's ascension and Grabovski's sub-optimization - and this summer could mark the beginnings of the organization's intense search for a #1 Centre, which is key to turning the Leafs into a better possession team. [more…]
What a heart-breaker that was. [more…]