5 games to go, and with the Habs' recent form, home ice advantage is within the Leafs' reach (also play them in the last game of the season). The Buds will need to bounce back from their first blowout loss since early March vs. the Jets, as they seemingly ran into a red-hot Capitals team at the wrong time, in a back-to-back scenario with travel in between and some bad habits creeping into their game.
On the flip side, with a loss to the 7th-placed Islanders the Leafs could find themselves in position to fall back into the clutches of the 6-7 seeds of the East. Based on recent play within the Conference, and the Leafs season series against the potential opponents, I think we have to be hoping for Leafs-Habs matchup in round 1 - both from the standpoint of how unspeakably awesome it would be and in terms of the Leafs' chances of advancing. The Leafs can take down most teams that attempt to outspeed and outskill them and they have also outcompeted the Habs physically. The difficulty seems to come in when the Leafs are slowed down, forced to fall back on a grind-it-out cycle game, and retrieve and control the puck along the boards. [more…]
After the Leafs pulled off a steal of a win over New Jersey last night, the Buds are in Washington, DC tonight hoping to chase down suddenly-within-reach home ice advantage for the playoffs. Should the Jets lose and the Leafs win tonight, mathematics say we can officially borrow against our homes and buy tickets to Leafs playoff games in May. [more…]
The league's fourth ranked team, the Toronto Maple Leafs (we beat Boston in something!), host the New Jersey tonight seeking to snuff out their dwindling playoff hopes by completing the season series sweep over the Devils.
Settling for a comfortable playoff position cannot be the approach if you're Carlyle's Leafs. The goal has to be to try to chase down home ice advantage for round one, or at the very least to finish strong headed into the playoffs. There is a definite advantage for teams who are playing at a playoff level with playoff intensity already by the time game 1 of the Quarterfinals rolls around. Winning games like this one against desperate teams will help keep the Leafs confident and battle ready for the big dance. [more…]
Not too long ago, the Leafs were sitting pretty comfortably in sixth and all looked pretty much ideal as far as the playoff picture was concerned. It hasn’t turned out so simple, of course. Washington has caught fire in the Southeast while Ottawa has fallen off with several consecutive losses. Now the Leafs are in 5th place, well back of 4th but increasingly clear of 6th (up by 4 points, even on games with the Sens). [more…]
The Leafs are in New Jersey tonight to take on the 9th-placed Devils. With the Devils sitting five behind Leafs (granted, with three teams in between), and the Leafs trying to recoup from the double loss that was the Flyers game (Lupul injury), this would be a really nice game to win in terms of alleviating any concern about the Leafs closing out their playoff berth. [more…]
Trade deadline in the rear view, let’s hope this game doesn’t set the tone for the Leafs’ finish this season. Between a 5-3 loss and Joffrey Lupul leaving the game with a head injury, this was a return to Earth after the highs of the win in Ottawa. [more…]
With team rosters now allowed to expand beyond the 23-man limit after the trade deadline, the Leafs have recalled big center Joe Colborne from the Toronto Marlies. After starting his AHL campaign with just six points in the first 22 games, and at one point being a healthy scratch, Colborne has posted 36 points in 43 games since picking it up in mid December. [more…]
In their only move today, the Leafs have acquired the 6'5, 235-pound Ryan O'Byrne, a big right hander for the back end who used to play alongside John-Michael Liles in Colorado. A depth add here, with a 4th round pick headed the other way to the Avalanche. [more…]
The Luongo/Kiprusoff talk has me watching the coverage with one eye covered today. Apparently, Miikka Kiprusoff is going to make a decision about his future late this morning. I'd be pleasantly surprised if, by 3 p.m., Dave Nonis' big move is a cheap addition to the defence, preferably a right-handed rearguard with some experience (Robidas being ideal if the price is right). Otherwise, standing pat is A-OK by me.
It is all but certain Nonis will not sell his pending UFAs to the highest bidder, making the following effective quote the other day: "I couldn't look the guys in the eyes in the dressing room if I did that."
You could avoid the talking heads today by watching some Marlies action at 11 a.m. on LeafsTV as they take on the Lake Erie Monsters. In related news, David Broll and Stuart Percy have followed Garret Sparks to the Marlies with their respective teams out of the OHL playoffs. Percy will be wearing #41 and Broll will don #46. [more…]
Following up on Nazem Kadri's 3rd star honours last week, Joffrey Lupul is your NHL 1st star for the week of March 25-31 after four games consisting of 5 goals, 4 assists, 9 points, and 3 game-winning goals (consecutively vs. Florida, Carolina and Ottawa). In his career as a Leaf, Lupul now has 99 points in 103 games.
What a night for the Toronto Maple Leafs and their fans.
They're not contenders yet, but this is looking like an offensively-inclined, hard-hitting, glove-dropping, entertaining, winning hockey team; just like the vision Brian Burke pitched to us five years ago. Randy Carlyle spoke about injecting the pride back into this organization before the season started. We're getting there.
After the jump, take in the HNIC segment that capped off a great night in Leafs Nation - Nazem Kadri on Coaches Corner. In a great moment, Kadri is the recipient of the Dougie Kiss as a battle-worn Frazer McLaren gives the Grapes Thumbs Up and a smiling Colton Orr looks on. [more…]
That. That was the win that cemented the Leafs as playoff worthy. [more…]