Sunday, May 24, 2015
Authors Posts by Anthony Petrielli

Anthony Petrielli

Anthony Petrielli has been at MLHS since 2011. He is known for his weekly "Leafs Notebook" feature, and also writes specific analysis pieces. You can contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @APetrielli.

MONTREAL, QC - NOVEMBER 30: Brian Gionta #21 of the Montreal Canadiens and Jake Gardiner #51 of the Toronto Maple Leafs watch the puck go wide in front of Jonathan Bernier #45 during the NHL game at the Bell Centre on November 30, 2013 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The Canadiens defeated the Maple Leafs 4-2. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

The question for the Leafs right now is pretty simple:

Is this the kind of slump that every team goes through over an 82-game season, or is this a sign of things to come?

by -
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Montreal Canadiens
Photo: Getty Images, NHLI

There’s no such thing as a “must-win” in November, but boy do the Leafs need a win tonight.

Through 26 games this season, the Leafs and Habs have an identical 14-9-3 record but Montreal is 6-2-2 in their last 10 while Toronto 3-4-3. Both teams lost after regulation last night (Montreal lost to Washington 3-2 in a shootout), so there’s no “tired” excuse for either club tonight. And Montreal was in Washington, meaning they had to travel as well.

The month of November hasn’t been kind to the Leafs as they are 4-5-3, but they can at least break 500 with a win tonight.

There are some changes being hinted at for the Leafs line-up and some interesting things will be to watch Kadri’s and Franson’s ice time as both didn’t play that much yesterday (14:13 and 15:56 respectively). We’ll post the lines when they come in, but regardless of what they are the Leafs need to play a good game here and start feeling confident about their game again.

The Leafs won their first game against the Habs in Montreal and after tonight have one more game remaining in Montreal (March 1st).

Odds are that Bernier is starting tonight because Reimer did yesterday, but Henny tweeted Reimer arrived to the rink first so we’ll find out in due time. The Habs started Budaj last night, unfortunately, so chances are they get Price in tonight.

Enjoy the game, everyone. Go Leafs Go.

Franson is hurt:

TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 25: R.J. Umberger #18 of the Columbus Blue Jackets scores a first period goal as James Reimer #34, Tyler Bozak #42, Morgan Rielly #44 and Mark Fraser #2 of the Toronto Maple Leafs defend during NHL game action November 25, 2013 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

- Losing to a young, inexperienced goalie that fought every puck, like in the loss against Nashville, is the kind of loss that really hurts over an 82-game season. Especially because, after the first period, the Leafs were firmly in control of that game but didn’t bury chances or give themselves much of a lead. The Preds got a four minute power play early in the second, they scored, and the game completely shifted.

AP Photo/David Duprey

You have to give Dave Nonis credit: The Leafs needed a center, so he went out and got one.

It was only a few weeks ago that I wondered aloud, in this very space, whether or not Nonis would pull the trigger to fill a position of sudden need, knowing he sat on his hands when he was faced with this same depleted center situation in Vancouver.

Photo: Getty Images/

Usually I like to include a little preamble before getting into notes, but the notes went a little long this week so I decided to scrap it. I’m also looking into something that could become a lengthy post; if all goes well there, I’ll hopefully have that up a little later in the week.

Moving on, there’s a lot to talk about in a week when JVR and Kessel put on a show against Anaheim, the Leafs made Columbus look a lot better than they are, and the team played two of their best periods of the season against Pittsburgh.

Only three teams in the preseason had more points than the Leafs (Boston, Washington, Dallas), and you know what’s the best part about that? Nobody really cares.

It was only a few years ago that some kids named Bozak, Stalberg, Kadri, and Gustavsson wowed Leafs Nation with a strong preseason and had fans thinking “hey, maybe this team is better than we thought.” We all know how that ended.

For the first time in a long time, the Leafs are going into the season with a well-set forward group. The top six is all but guaranteed to be Phil Kessel, Tyler Bozak, Joffrey Lupul, JVR, Nazem Kadri and David Clarkson, comprising a fairly established and proficient group.

The bottom six forwards will feature Dave Bolland, Jay McClement, Nikolai Kulemin, and at least one enforcer for sure. Joe Colborne would probably have to be horrific in camp for him not to make the opening twelve at this point, which really leaves just one spot up for grabs between a host of players.

Of course, things rarely ever go exactly as planned and there are always surprises. Without further ado, here is a look at the forward group by line, with a few thoughts on each.

The Leafs wrapped up what was a pretty good weekend by imploding in the third period and losing handily, but that doesn’t take away from some of the positives that were shown overall.

There were some youngsters who had good weekends, others who had very good weekends, and a few who struggled. In other news, the Leafs also have a new player coming to training camp in Mason Raymond.

You know hockey is back when there are actual relevant games and players to talk about all of a sudden. Here are some scattered thoughts on the weekend that was:

The John Michael Liles buyout watch is officially over, for this year, anyway.

Nazem Kadri and Cody Franson are still RFAs, and the Leafs currently have just 4.9M in cap space to retain them both. While many have pointed out that Korbinian Holzer and Trevor Smith are accounted for on the Leafs capgeek roster even though neither figures to make the team, it also has to be said that the Leafs aren’t going to play with a roster holding the bare minimum of 12 forwards and six defensemen all year. Something has to give.

There are a few different ways things can turn out now.

Some will argue the Leafs have gotten better over the last few weeks, others will say they’ve gotten worse; the only thing we know for sure is that they’re noticeably different.

Out go Mikhail Grabovski, Clarke MacArthur, Leo Komarov, Matt Frattin, Ryan O’Byrne, Mike Kostka, and Ben Scrivens. In come Dave Bolland, David Clarkson, TJ Brennan and Jonathon Bernier (along with a few new Marlies – Colborne? D’Amigo? Blacker? Ashton?) .

So what do we make of all this? The best way to look at it is to break it down piece by piece.