Tuesday, May 5, 2015
Authors Posts by Daniel Santos

Daniel Santos

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James Reimer and Joey Crabb
(Photo Credit: AP/Jack Dempsey)
James Reimer and the Toronto Maple Leafs look to bounce back tonight in Carolina.

After allowing 3 goals on just 8 shots in Tuesday night’s loss in Florida, Reimer will be right back in goal against the Hurricanes. He has struggled mightily on the road, sporting a 1-3-0 record with a 4.26 GAA and .852 SV%. Contrast that to a stellar 6-0-3 mark with a 2.27 GAA and .924 SV% at home.

Reimer will not be the only one trying to end his struggles on the road, as the Leafs penalty kill is just 7-for-17 in the last 4 road games. That’s a frightening 41.2%. Yikes.

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"It's made from aluminum. Very high strength-to-weight ratio."

In honour of Festivus, it is time to lay some overly harsh criticism on the beloved Maple Leafs with the Airing of Grievances. “I got a lot of problems with you people! And now you’re gonna hear about it!”

Kessel – 20 goals?! Not good enough! We didn’t trade our 2 first-rounders and a second away for someone who’s tied for the NHL-lead in goals!

Bozak – Leave Kate Upton alone, she’s mine!

Liles – Keep your head up, you old bag!

Grabovski – What’s wrong with you? I can’t believe you named your kid Jaegar in honour of Mick Jagger. AC/DC was way better at SARS fest!

Kulemin – You haven’t scored a goal (that wasn’t a penalty shot) in 27 games. Figure it out!

Schenn – 56 blocked shots?! It would be over 60 if you’d quit deflecting them into your own net!

Gardiner – No more sitting out games to watch Justin Bieber MuchMusic specials!

Franson – You better not be a Santa Clause parade kind-of-guy too!

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Photo Credit: gstatic.com

The Toronto Maple Leafs host the Ottawa Senators on opening night of the NHL preseason (7 pm ET, Leafs TV).

John-Michael Liles and Philippe Dupuis are expected to make their debuts in Maple Leafs sweaters, while Jonas Gustavsson will start in goal and split the duties with Ben Scrivens

For the Senators, Alex Auld starts, and Robin Lehner will play the latter half.

Leafs fans will get a look at what Leafs brass seem to have penciled in as their third line for opening night in Nazem Kadri, Tyler Bozak and Colby Armstrong. Burke did make it clear that the left wing resident of that line is written in pencil, not pen, and there will be opportunity for Matt Frattin and Joe Colborne to erase that slot and put their own names in there. You have to figure Kadri has the edge before the puck drops on the preseason games, however.

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The days following the Maple Leafs’ elimination from the playoffs are always upsetting and/or depressing. However, now that I’m done looking back at the missed opportunities and asking “what if this or that didn’t happen?” It’s time to focus on the positives and look forward to next season.

With that said, what should the Maple Leafs do this off-season? What pieces do the Leafs already have in place? What would you do if you were Brian Burke?

Below is pretty much the Leafs roster down the stretch, with a * indicating a suggested cap hit for the unsigned player for next season.

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Photo Credit: Reuters

The Maple Leafs and James Reimer look to bounce back tonight against the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum (7pm, Sportsnet Ontario). The Leafs are 5-1-1 in their last seven road games and have earned at least one point in all three meetings with the Isles this season (2-0-1).

Especially with the lack of outside help the Leafs have been receiving, anything less than two points tonight would be devastating to the Maple Leafs’ chances of playing hockey in mid-April. Important to note is that the Islanders are the third best team in the Eastern Conference since December 15, behind only Boston and New Jersey in points since that date, and have been even better since Al Montoya took over the reigns in net. He’s 5-2-2 with a 1.33 GAA and a .931 SV% since being acquired from Phoenix in exchange for a sixth round draft choice.

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    Still need a Leafs jersey to wear to the bar for the playoffs? After seeing this baseball flow chart from Interpretation by Design, I came up with this chart to help you decide which jersey to get:

    Maple Leafs jersey flowchart
    click to enlarge

    The Leafs went 4-0-3 after I posted My Name Is Jonas, Gustavsson. So, after Saturday’s tough loss to the Blackhawks, let’s hope the Leafs can go another seven games without a regulation loss.

    Stick tap to Jersey Database.

    Follow me on Twitter @SantosDan

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    Getty Images
    Graig Abel/Getty Images

    Despite the Maple Leafs current 7-game point streak where they have gone 4-0-3, they currently sit six points back of the final playoff spot in the East. The Leafs got no help from the Panthers and Rangers last night, as the Hurricanes and Sabres both earned victories. The Leafs will look to improve their playoff chances by 2.0 percent to 5.9 with a win tonight over the Penguins. (TSN, 7pm)

    Burke has allowed the group that has gotten the Leafs into striking distance of the playoffs carry the mantle the rest of the way by standing pat at the deadline; beginning tonight we’ll see what this group is really capable of. This is the type of situation the likes of Luke Schenn, Keith Aulie, Carl Gunnarsson, Mikhail Grabovski, Darryl Boyce and Tim Brent have never been a part of and it should be a good experience just being in a playoff-like atmosphere down the stretch.

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    Frank Gunn/AP

    Lineup Note: Brett Lebda will play for the first time in 9 games, taking Carl Gunnarsson’s spot in the lineup. You have to wonder how Wilson justifies this to Gunnarsson. “You were one of five players out there for that Antropov goal. Take a seat and make way for Lebda and his -19 in 22GP.”

    After last night’s 5-4 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers, the Maple Leafs head to Nassau Coliseum to take on the New York Islanders (Sportsnet, 7pm). The Leafs have been outscored 26-7 in losing five straight games on the road.

    The Maple Leafs have also lost their last three games against the Islanders, scoring just one goal each time. They won’t have to face Dwayne Roloson, who routinely plays like a Vezina candidate against the Blue and White, as he was traded to Tampa Bay since the last time these two met. Kevin Poulin will get the start. John Tavares has not scored a goal in 9 straight games, but he has four in five career games against his hometown team.

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    Kris Versteeg
    Graig Abel/Getty Images

    Kris Versteeg
    Graig Abel/Getty Images

    To say the least, it was a disappointing weekend in Leaf land. A decent effort Saturday versus the Canucks was spoiled, Kadri’s season debut will mostly be remembered for losing the puck on a 3-on-1, and ex-Leaf Viktor Stalberg scored his 6th goal of the season for the Blackhawks…in overtime…with Brian Burke in attendance.

    The Maple Leafs’ losing streak ballooned to 8 games after falling to the Canucks on a weak goal on J.S. Giguere in the third period Saturday. Giguere made some big saves throughout the game, but couldn’t make an easy one in the end. Perhaps Brett Lebda should have gotten his stick out of the way, but it’s still one that Giguere’s got to have. I still think Jonas Gustavsson should be getting more games in goal.

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    Contrary to numerous but erroneous reports this morning that he had succumbed to his battle with lung cancer, Pat Burns is still alive at his home in Quebec with his family.

    Apparently, Burns has even had a little fun with all of the reports, telling Bob McKenzie;

    “Here we go again. They’re trying to kill me before I’m dead. I come to Quebec to spend some time with my family and they say I’m dead. I’m not dead, far (expletive) from it. They’ve had me dead since June. Tell them I’m alive. Set them straight.”

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      The Toronto Maple Leafs play their second-last game of the season tonight versus the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden (7:00 pm et, TSN). The Rangers are fighting for their playoff lives, sitting 3 points back of the Bruins and 4 points back of the Flyers for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. As for the Leafs, their hopes of moving out of the basement of the East are all but gone.

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        Just some quick thoughts after the Maple Leafs’ 4-3 overtime win over the Bruins:

        Assist for Phil Kessel is his first point in 5 games against his old team

        Bozak continues to progress

        Carl Gunnarsson had another solid game with a goal and a +3 rating

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          In the wake of Sunday’s blockbuster trades, one cannot help but wonder what’s next for the Toronto Maple Leafs? Who’s next to go? Who stays?

          In any case, I think that it’s pretty safe to say that this season is a write-off. We’re not making any moves to make a run at the playoffs this season. So, let’s look forward and take a look at what the Maple Leafs should look like next season.