Friday, May 22, 2015
Authors Posts by Declan Kerin

Declan Kerin

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The Toronto Maple Leafs continue to pull brain trust from the talent pool in the OHL, adding Jim Paliafito of the Saganaw Spirit to the front office.

Mark Hunter (London Knights), Kyle Dubas (Sault Ste. Marie), Lindsay Hofford (London Knights), Wes Clark (Sault Ste. Marie) and now Jim Paliafito—from the old boys club to the OHL boys club. The Leafs could not be better prepared for the OHL prospects in the 2015 draft class and should have some good intel on who might be undervalued for that #24 overall pick, in particular.

Paliafito has a unique multi-sport background, including NFL player agent, representing Hall of Famers Lawrence Taylor, Anthony Munoz and Tony Dorsett before joining the Spirit as Head Scout in May, 2009. He took over the GM’s role in 2011; the team consistently made low-seed playoff appearances in his time as GM and has lost out in the first round three of the last four years, with one second round appearance in 2011-12.

Paliafito is well known as one of the hardest working GMs in the OHL according to contacts in the O, is close with Mark Hunter, and has a reputation as an excellent talent evaluator.

Saginaw’s top prospect for the 2015 draft, for those curious, is right-handed centerman Mitchell Stephens, who is a projected second round pick and played for the 2014-15 National Men’s Under-18 Team at the Ivan Hlinka. He scored four goals and six points in five games in the tournament.

A quick list of players that Paliafito drafted or traded for, who have gone onto play in the NHL:

Traded for: Dalton Prout, Ben Chiarot.
Drafted: Brandon Saad, Drafted Michael Sgarbossa, Vincent Trocheck, Jamie Oleksiak

A list of Saginaw Spirit players that have been drafted into the NHL under Paliafito:

2014 NHL Draft Class

  • Dylan Sadowy – San Jose Sharks 3rd Round 71st overall

2013 NHL Draft Class

  • Jimmy Lodge- Winnipeg Jets 3rd round, 84th overall
  • Nick Moutrey- Columbus Blue Jackets 4th round, 105th overall
  • Eric Locke- Buffalo Sabres 7th round, 189th overall

2012 NHL Draft Class

  • Justin Kea- Buffalo Sabres 3rd round, 73rd overall
  • Jake Paterson- Detroit Red Wings 3rd round, 80th overall
  • Garret Ross- Chicago Blackhawks 5th round, 139th overall

2011 NHL Draft Class

  • Jamie Oleksiak- Dallas Stars 1st round, 14th overall
  • Brandon Saad – Chicago Blackhawks 2nd round, 43rd overall
  • Vincent Trocheck – Florida Panthers 3rd round, 64th overall
  • Anthony Camara – Boston Bruins 3rd round, 81st overall
  • Josh Shalla – Nashville Predators 4th round, 94th overall

2010 NHL Draft Class

  • John McFarland – Florida Panthers 2nd round, 33rd overall
  • Brandon Archibald – Columbus Blue Jackets 4th round, 94th overall
  • Ivan Telegin – Atlanta Thrashers 4th round, 101st overall
  • Dalton Prout – Columbus Blue Jackets 6th round, 154th overall

2009 NHL Draft Class

  • Jordan Szwarz – Phoenix Coyotes 4th round, 97th overall
  • Edward Pasquale – Atlanta Thrashers 4th round, 117th overall
  • Ben Chiarot – Atlanta Thrashers 4th round, 120th overall
  • Cody Sol – Atlanta Thrashers 5th round, 125th overall


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The Montreal Canadiens were defeated in round two of the Eastern Conference semi-finals by the Tampa Bay Lightning.

For a team that was called elite by some, it wasn’t much of a contest and the Habs rolled over easily in Game 6, as the Lightning finished them off handily. The Canadiens looked defeated early and were stood up at the offensive blue line on their entires by the Lightning’s defenceman and hemmed in their own zone by a hungrier, more talented and more detailed Lightning squad.


The Maple Leafs’ attention is still sharply focused on picking a new General Manager and Head Coach for the team. While it appeared a very long shot at wooing Mike Babcock to coach the Maple Leafs, they now look to be among the favourites, along with the heavily favoured Buffalo Sabres, who appear to be in the lead for his services.

As far as the position of General Manager, the Maple Leafs look to be in a holding pattern until they are granted permission to speak with the Assistant General Manager of the New York Rangers, Jeff Gorton. New York Rangers General Manager Glen Slather has denied permission to other clubs to speak with Gorton until they are officially eliminated from the playoffs or win the Stanley Cup.

Jeff Gorton has an excellent resume as interim General Manager of the Boston Bruins. It includes drafting Milan Lucic (2nd round), Brad Marchand (3rd round) and Phil Kessel (1st), trading for Tuukka Rask, signing Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard. While working as assistant General Manager he was integral in drafting Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci in the second round.
The other candidate for this unique organizational chart being created by Brendan Shanahan is Mike Futa, Assistant General Manager of the Los Angeles Kings. We’ve covered him here before and he has a strong record, as well.

Leafs to pick 23rd or 24th

With last night’s results, the Maple Leafs second pick in the first round is now going to be the 23rd or 24th pick.

Previous 24th overall in NHL Drafts

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 10.33.02 PM

Previous 23rd overall in NHL Drafts

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 10.32.04 PM

 Wednesday Links:


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Randy Carlyle has been relieved of his coaching duties.

He posted a 91-78-19 record in parts of 4 seasons behind the bench.

 More to come..


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ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 10: Tyler Bozak #42 and Dion Phaneuf #3 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrate Bozak's first period goal against the Anaheim Ducks on March 10, 2014 at Honda Center in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images)

Toronto ends their home heavy schedule this Saturday (to make way for the World Juniors at the ACC) and begins a 7 game road trip starting Sunday vs the Chicago Blackhawks.

The red-hot Anaheim Ducks are in town tonight to take on the red-hot Maple Leafs, in what could be a great matchup.

Much has been made about the Maple Leafs possession woes this season. While being abhorrent last year, they are making ground on becoming a better possession team through better personnel and, most importantly, through better systemic process and tactics.

 During a Saturday morning chat, Mike Babcock was asked about the top teams in the league. He grabbed the daily stat sheet and circled the five with the best goal differential — Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Chicago, Nashville and St. Louis. “There you go,” he said. Note to NHL: Babcock thinks that statistic should be on the front of the package. It’s on Page Two.

The best measure of a hockey team (so far) is goal differential. Looking at last year’s standings at the same point in the season showed the Leafs a barely positive goal differential team. It’s not hard to see that during the regular season, St. Louis, Chicago and San Jose were juggernauts. If you think back to games vs the Maple Leafs, there were a number of games that were over from puck drop and those were games against St. Louis, San Jose and, to a lesser degree, Chicago.

2013 Goal Differential

2013-Goal Differential


This season, they have been much better in this regard. Hockey, stripped down to the basic tenets, is a game of goals and goals against; they are scoring more goals than they are allowing and that’s what is winning them hockey games. How they are accomplishing this is up for debate, but it’s a marked difference between last season and this season. Their shooting percentage is leading the league, which is concerning and they have a rising-yet-not-unsustainable save percentage—the best two metrics available to gauge luck. The team and its fans would like to avoid the collapse last year and see playoff hockey in this city again. It’s a long season and there are certain to be dips, but it’s easy to see different—and better—hockey being played. At this stage last year, they had yet to play a game most could agree was a good, complete(ish) game. That was likely their first game last year against the LA Kings, it was December 11th and it was a 3-1 loss, which they were unlucky to lose.

2014 Goal Differential

2014-Goal Differential

It’s a positive step in the right direction and one that I’m sure they’re hoping to maintain. Now to reduce the shots against…

Tuesday Links

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Dion Phaneuf

The Maple Leafs are in Pittsburgh taking on the hottest team in the league for a true ‘measuring stick’ game.

Looking at the table below, it’s easy to see why the Penguins have reclaimed the position as the elite team in the East. Best record in the league. Check. Best goal differential. Check. Most goals for. Check. Best power play. Check.

They aren’t lacking in any one area of the game right now and are piping hot with a 7-2-1 record in their last 10 games.

The Leafs are the Leafs we’ve come to know with this core group. Lights out one night, and getting their lights shot out the next night.

There is a noticeable improvement in the Leafs game this season and you can see that in some of the good games they’ve had this season; the process behind their improvement is markedly better. They are winning games they deserve to win and losing games they are meant to. Last season, there weren’t any games, at this stage in the season, where they could hang their hat on it and say: “We were the better team tonight”. Through 21 games, the Leafs were able to keep a team under 30 shots only twice last season. That’s happened 5 times this season through same amount of games. Is it great? No, it isn’t. It’s a hellova lot better than what was the on-ice product last year.

The Maple Leafs are going to have to stay out of the box. Period. Pittsburgh is running along red hot pace and will extinguish any chance the Leafs have of winning with too many PP opportunities.

The Leafs had a number of chances to put the game away vs the Penguins the last time that they met and they are going to have to capitalize on those this time around if they are going to give themselves any chance of staying with the Penguins.

It should be an entertaining game, either way. Both teams can score goals, both teams can skate and it could turn into a track meet, as it has in the previous 3 seasons.

Toronto Maple Leafs vs Pittsburgh Penguins - Head to Head

Head to Head:Maple LeafsPenguins
Record10-8-2 (.571% - 15th)10-4-5 (.750 - 1st)
Goal Differential+4+26
GF/G3.19 (3rd)3.50 (1st)
GA/G2.95 (23rd)2.25 (6th)
SF/G30.5 (13th)31.7 (17th)
SA/G33.0 (24th)29.7 (15th)
PP20.3% (16th)33.3% (1st)
PK84.3% (7th)87.8% (4th)
5v5 Sh%9.01% (5th)9.01% (6th)
5v5 Sv%91.43% (21st)93.33% (8th)
FO%52.2% (8th)50% (15th)

Maple Leafs Projected Lineup

James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Phil Kessel
Leo Komarov – Nazem Kadri – Mike Santorelli
Daniel Winnik – Peter Holland – David Clarkson
David Booth – Trevor Smith – Joffrey Lupul

Dion Phaneuf – Cody Franson
Jake Gardiner – Morgan Rielly
Stephane Robidas — Korbinian Holzer

Jonathan Bernier
James Reimer

Scratched: Carter Ashton, Richard Panik
Injured: Brandon Kozun (high ankle sprain), Roman Polak (knee)

Penguins Projected Lineup

Nick Spaling – Sidney Crosby – Patric Hornqvist
Chris Kunitz – Evgeni Malkin – Blake Comeau
Steve Downie – Brandon Sutter – Jayson Megna
Zach Sill – Marcel Goc – Craig Adams

Paul Martin – Kris Letang
Olli Maatta – Christian Ehrhoff
Rob Scuderi – Simon Despres

Marc-Andre Fleury
Thomas Greiss

Scratched: Robert Bortuzzo
Injured: Pascal Dupuis (blood clot), Beau Bennett (lower body)

Status report: Despres has played the past two games alongside Scuderi after being scratched against the New York Islanders on Friday. He has rotated with Bortuzzo on a pairing next to Scuderi during recent morning skates. … Three Maple Leafs, Lupul, Kozun and Booth, have missed at least 12 regular-season games because of injury. Lupul is expected to miss at least another three weeks.

Who’s hot: Malkin is on pace to score at least 40 goals for the third time in nine seasons. He has scored three goals across his past two games and has 10 on the season, tied with Hornqvist for the team-lead. … Bozak scored two goals against Detroit and has scored four points in his past two games. He is second on the team, behind Kessel, with 19 points.

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Photo: Getty Images

The Red Wings (10-4-5) are in town to take on the Toronto Maple Leafs (10-8-2) in an original six divisional matchup on Hockey Night in Canada.

The Maple Leafs haven’t had much luck against the Red Wings in their two meetings so far, a pair of losses including one in overtime. Last time the Wings came to Toronto, Zetterberg tore them apart and they got outshot in the third period 2:1 despite a 4-1 deficit. Jerseys were thrown on the ice, so on and so forth. The Zetterberg, Nyquist and Franzen matchup is an unresolved task going into this game — they won that mid October meeting at the ACC on their own in terms of the scoring.

The Red Wings squeezed the life out of the Leafs in the neutral zone that game and the Leafs went silently into the night. Can Toronto build off of a win versus Tampa Bay or will they continue the rollercoaster act? That is the big question going into this one.

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Detroit Red Wings

Head to Head:Maple LeafsRed Wings
Record10-8-2 (.550% - 17th)10-4-5 (.658 - 14th)
Goal Differential+1+9
GF/G3.15 (4th)2.84 (9th)
GA/G3.10 (24th)2.21 (7th)
SF/G31.2 (8th)29.9 (17th)
SA/G3.05 (24th)28.4 (9th)
PP20.3% (11th)19.5% (15th)
PK84.3% (8th)89.6% (2nd)
5v5 Sh%9.01% (6th)7.84% (17th)
5v5 Sv%91.29% (20th)92.13% (15th)
FO%52.6% (8th)53.2% (4th)

Red Wings Projected Lines

Henrik Zetterberg – Gustav Nyquist – Johan Franzen
(4g 13a 17pts) – (9g 3a 12pts) – (6g 7a 13pts)
Justin Abdelkader – Riley Sheahan – Tomas Tatar
(6g 8a 14pts) – (3g 6a 9pts) – (8g 3a 11pts)
Tomas Jurco – Darren Helm – Daniel Cleary
(1g 4 a5pts) – (2g 5a 7pts) – (1g 1a 2pts)
Drew Miller – Joakim Andersson – Luke Glendening
(0g 3a 3pts) – (0g 2a 2pts) – (2g 1a 3pts)

Niklas Kronwall – Jonathan Ericsson
(3g 9a 12pts) – (0g 4a 4pts)
Kyle Quincey – Danny DeKeyser
(0g 1a 1pts) – (0g 7a 7pts)
Brian Lashoff – Xavier Ouellet
(0g 1a 1pts) – (0g 0a 0pts)

Jimmy Howard (8W 3L 4OT – 1.97GAA – .924%)
Petr Mrazek (1L – 3.00GAA – .903)

Scratched: Jakub Kindl
Injured: Pavel Datsyuk (groin), Stephen Weiss (groin – IR), Brendan Smith (hand – IR), Jonas Gustavsson (shoulder – IR)

Maple Leafs Projected Lines

James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Phil Kessel
(9g 8a 17pts) – (6g 11a 17pts) – (11g 12a 23pts)
Daniel Winnik – Peter Holland – David Clarkson
(1g 7a 8pts) – (4g 4a 8pts) – (6g 1a 7pts)
Leo Komarov – Nazem Kadri – Mike Santorelli
(1g 11a 12pts) – (5g 4a 9pts) – (3g 6a 9pts)
Richard Panik – Trevor Smith – Josh Leivo
(4g 1a 5pts) – (0g 1a 1pts) – (1g 0a 1pts)

Dion Phaneuf – Cody Franson
(1g 9a 10pts) – (3g 11a 14pts)
Jake Gardiner – Roman Polak
(1g 3a 4pts) – (3g 2a 5pts)
Morgan Rielly – Stephane Robidas
(2g 5a 7pts) – (0g 3a 3pts)

Jonathan Bernier (6W 5L 2OT – 2.66GAA – .916%)
James Reimer (4W 3L 3OT – 3.64 – .898)

Scratched: Carter Ashton (suspended)
Injured: Joffrey Lupul (broken hand – IR), Brandon Kozun (high ankle sprain – IR), David Booth (broken foot – IR)

Status report: Datsyuk’s groin injury kept him out of the past two games and will keep him out against Toronto. … Kessel hurt his neck during practice on Friday, but will be good to go.

Who’s hot: Franzen has points in seven of the past eight games and has four goals and four assists during that run. … For the Maple Leafs, Franson has a nine-game point streak.

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Nazem Kadri Sabres
TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 28: Michal Neuvirth #34 of the Buffalo Sabres defends the goal as teammate Josh Gorges #4 battles with Nazem Kadri #43 of the Toronto Maple Leafs during NHL game action October 28, 2014 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

Toronto (9-6-2) is in Buffalo to take on the struggling Sabres (3-13-2) in what always feels like a home game for the visiting Maple Leafs.

After a tough loss against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Toronto Maple Leafs look to continue piling up points against the Buffalo Sabres. The Sabres’ struggles are well documented;  they’re near last in every statistical category in the league right now, and out in front for the Connor McDavid sweepstakes, so far.

Korbinian Holzer has been called up on an emergency  basis. It’s a assumed that one of the right-hand shot defence are injured. One of Robidas or Polak will draw out in favour of Holzer, who’s been patiently waiting to get back into an NHL game since seeing 22 games, primarily on the top pairing with Dion Phaneuf, in the shortened 2012-2013 season.

Maple Leafs Lineup

James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Phil Kessel
Daniel Winnik – Nazem Kadri – David Clarkson
Leo Komarov – Peter Holland – Mike Santorelli
Richard Panik – Trevor Smith – Josh Leivo

Dion Phaneuf – Cody Franson
Jake Gardiner – Roman Polak
Morgan Rielly – Korbinian Holzer

James Reimer
Jonathan Bernier

Scratched: Matt Frattin
Injured: Joffrey Lupul (broken hand), Brandon Kozun (high ankle sprain), David Booth (broken foot), Stephane Robidas (unknown)

Sabres Lineup

Matt Moulson – Zemgus Girgensons – Tyler Ennis
Brian Flynn – Torrey Mitchell – Brian Gionta
Nicolas Deslauriers – Cody McCormick – Drew Stafford
Marcus Foligno – Cody Hodgson – Chris Stewart

Andrej Meszaros – Tyler Myers
Nikita Zadorov – Rasmus Ristolainen
Mike Weber – Tyson Strachan

Michal Neuvirth
Jhonas Enroth

Scratched: Andre Benoit, Patrick Kaleta
Injured: Josh Gorges (upper body)

Josh Gorges “will be out for a little bit”, says Head Coach Ted Nolan. Meszaros is expected to play, but whether he’ll be paired with Myers is unknown. The Sabres held an optional skate and did not run their defensive pairs.

Cody Franson has a six-game point streak with two goals and six assists during that run. Girgensons has two goals and two assists in the past four games.

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Buffalo Sabres

Head to Head:Maple LeafsSabres
Record9-6-23-13 -2
GF/G3.18 (4th)1.22 (30th)
GA/G2.59 (13th)3.61 (29th)
SF/G31.0 (10th)22.9 (30th)
SA/G33.3 (26th)37.1 (30th)
PP21.9% (9th)5.4% (30st)
PK85.2% (9th)77.1 % (23rd)
Sh%10.25% (5th)5.33% (30th)
Sv%92.2% (9th)90.3% (9th)
FO%51.0% (12th)42.8% (30th)

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Dion Phaneuf
TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 11: Dion Phaneuf #3 of the Toronto Maple Leafs defends against the Pittsburgh Penguins in an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on October 11, 2014 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Penguins defeated the Maple Leafs 5-2. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

The Pittsburgh Penguins (10-3-1) are in town to take on the Toronto Maple Leafs (9-5-2) after taking a 5-0 beat down at the hands of the New York Rangers on Tuesday.

When these two teams face each other, the potential for it to turn into a track meet is always there (see table below for more details). Both teams can score goals with the best of them;  Pittsburgh is technically 1st in the league right now with a .750 win percentage and Toronto climbing quickly at 10th in the league with a .625, despite the standings (not accounting for games played) having them listed at 8th and 10, respectively.

Toronto was embarrassed off the ice in the last match vs Pittsburgh, which included a jersey throwing incident. They look to be a different team than the one that showed up October 11th and they can take (some) comfort in Pittsburgh starting their backup goalie, Thomas Greiss.

In much the same way that they were destroyed the Bruins and came back to give them a taste of their own medicine, Toronto can save face with a good showing against Pittsburgh. They do look to be at a different level than Boston does right now, even considering are riding some unsustainably high numbers; Pittsburgh ranks 1st in the league with a PDO of 103.5, which should be moving back down closer to the 100 mark in due course.

This enigmatic Maple Leafs team is certainly an adventure to follow and games like this always add intrigue.

Head to Head:Maple LeafsPenguins
GF/G3.31 (3rd)3.86 (1st)
GA/G2.62 (15th)2.29 (8th)
SF/G31.0 (10th)31.6 (5th)
SA/G32.9 (26th)29.0 (13th)
PP24.1% (4th)35.6 % (1st)
PK84.5% (11th)87.5% (4th)
Sh%10.69% (4th)12.19% (1st)
Sv%92% (10th)92.1% (9th)
FO%51.2% (11th)50.9% (12th)

Toronto Maple Leafs vs Pittsburgh Penguins Since 2011-2012

2011-12 season:Sat Oct 29 2011at TorToronto 4, Pittsburgh 3
2011-12 season:Tue Jan 31 2012at PitPittsburgh 5, Toronto 4 (SO)
2011-12 season:Wed Feb 1 2012at TorToronto 1, Pittsburgh 0
2011-12 season:Wed Mar 7 2012at PitPittsburgh 3, Toronto 2
2012-13 season:Wed Jan 23 2013at PitToronto 5, Pittsburgh 2
2012-13 season:Sat Mar 9 2013at TorPittsburgh 5, Toronto 4 (SO)
2012-13 season:Thu Mar 14 2013at TorPittsburgh 3, Toronto 1
2013-14 season:Sat Oct 26 2013at TorToronto 4, Pittsburgh 1
2013-14 season:Wed Nov 27 2013at PitPittsburgh 6, Toronto 5 (SO)
2013-14 season:Mon Dec 16 2013at PitPittsburgh 3, Toronto 1
2014-15 season:Sat Oct 11 2014at TorPittsburgh 5, Toronto 2

Pittsburgh Penguins Lineup

Chris Kunitz – Sidney Crosby – Pascal Dupuis
Nick Spaling – Evgeni Malkin – Patric Hornqvist
Beau Bennett – Brandon Sutter – Steve Downie
Zach Sill – Marcel Goc – Craig Adams

Paul Martin – Kris Letang
Christian Ehrhoff – Robert Bortuzzo
Rob Scuderi – Simon Despres

Thomas Greiss
Marc-Andre Fleury

Scratched: Blake Comeau
Injured: Olli Maatta (thyroid)

Toronto Maple Leafs Lineup

James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Phil Kessel
Daniel Winnik – Nazem Kadri – David Clarkson
Leo Komarov – Peter Holland – Mike Santorelli
Richard Panik – Trevor Smith – Josh Leivo

Dion Phaneuf – Cody Franson
Jake Gardiner – Roman Polak
Morgan Rielly – Stephane Robidas

Jonathan Bernier
James Reimer

Scratched: Matt Frattin
Injured: David Booth (broken foot), Joffrey Lupul (broken hand), Brandon Kozun (ankle)


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Toronto Maple Leafs vs Boston Bruins
TORONTO, ON - APRIL 3: James van Riemsdyk #21 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates a second period goal as Zdeno Chara #33 of the Boston Bruins skates past during NHL game action April 3, 2014 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Boston Bruins (10-6-0) are in town tonight to take on the Toronto Maple Leafs (8-5-2)

After getting totally embarrassed and boo’d off the ice in their last game against Boston on October 26, the Maple Leaf players held a closed door meeting and have since lost only one game in regulation. Toronto looks to extend their winning streak to three games and their point streak to four. Toronto is 6-2-2 in their last 10 games; is Boston is red hot and 8-2-0 in their last 10 games, riding a 5 game winning streak.

Toronto looks to be starting Jonathan Bernier tonight, who has a poor record vs Boston. In 5 career games, Bernier has a 4.46GAA, .876sv% and has only won one game vs the Bs. He played poorly and was chased from the net in the last meeting between the two teams.

Curiously, James Reimer will not be starting, despite playing 12 games vs Boston with a 2.64GAA and a .921sv%..

Daniel Winnik will draw back into the lineup after a terrifying collision with Jan Hejda knocked him out cold, when he landed awkwardly on his head. Presumably, he will play on a line with David Clarkson and centered by Nazem Kadri. Winnik will be a welcome return for the Maple Leafs. At evens, he provides dogged puck pursuit, excellent board work, puck management and defensive acuity for a line that is not well known for such traits. It should be a very good possession line with Kadria nd LThis on top of making up half of an excellent penalty kill forward duo with Leo Komarov.

It does look like the top line of old will remain together for now, although that could change quickly depending on how the game plays out. The numbers, both possession stats and scoring chances, suggest the top line was less of a defensive detriment when it was Kadri with Winnik and Kessel and JvR with Bozak and Clarkson.

Regardless, this will likely push Richard Panik back to the fourth line with Josh Leivo and Trevor Smith. Panik was able to make good on a big opportunity with top-6 minutes, potting three goals and looking like he belonged, whereas he didn’t look so good in a lower capacity on the 4th line. Hopefully his new found confidence translates to his position on the 4th and in, presumably, reduced minutes.

There has been a different look on defence in practice, with Stephane Robidas looking to play with Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner to playing with Roman Polak. There was also one trial of Stephane Robidas playing on a top pairing with Dion Phaneuf on Tuesday.

Toronto vs Boston Since 2013-2014

2013-14 season:Sat Nov 9 2013at BosBruins 3 vs. Leafs 1
2013-14 season:Sun Dec 8 2013at TorBruins 5 at Leafs 2
2013-14 season:Tue Jan 14 2014at BosLeafs 4 at Bruins 3
2013-14 season:Thu Apr 3 2014at TorLeafs 4 vs. Bruins 3
2014-15 season:Sat Oct 25 2014at TorBruins 4 vs. Leafs 1

Toronto’s projected lineup

James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Phil Kessel
Daniel Winnik – Nazem Kadri – David Clarkson
Leo Komarov – Peter Holland – Mike Santorelli
Richard Panik – Trevor Smith – Josh Leivo
Dion Phaneuf – Cody Franson
Jake Gardiner – Roman Polak
Morgan Rielly – Stephane Robidas

Jonathan Bernier
James Reimer

Scratched: Matt Frattin

Boston is currently on a big roll right now. They have, however, faced some fairly soft competition in the Devils (7-7-2),  Oilers (6-9-1), Panthers (5-4-4), Senators (7-4-4) and Jets (8-6-2) in their 5-game winning streak.

They will be without Zdeno Chara and David Krejci.

Boston’s projected lineup

Milan Lucic – Chris Kelly – Seth Griffith
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Reilly Smith
Matt Fraser – Carl Soderberg – Loui Eriksson
Simon Gagne – Gregory Campbell – Daniel Paille

Dennis Seidenberg – Dougie Hamilton
Joe Morrow – Adam McQuaid
Torey Krug – Zach Trotman

Tuukka Rask
Niklas Svedberg

Scratched: Matt Bartkowski

Injured: Zdeno Chara (knee), David Krejci (lower body), Kevan Miller (shoulder)

Click play and wait for the program to start.

Michael Langlois , Anthony Petrielli and Gus Katsaros will be talking the Toronto Maple Leafs season to date, changes to their system, a Colorado Avalanche primer, Toronto Marlies and Toronto Maple Leafs prospects.

Click here to listen on SoundCloud

Click here to go to iTunes and listen to the podcast on the go (don’t forget to subscribe!)


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COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 31: Nazem Kadri #43 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates with Phil Kessel #81 of the Toronto Maple Leafs after scoring a third period goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets on October 31, 2014 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. Toronto defeated Columbus 4-1. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Toronto Maple Leafs were delivered a blow before the start of the game with the news that oft injured forward, Joffrey Lupul, was out with a broken right hand.

This was a a decent win for Toronto against a team they should beat given the Blue Jackets had $30 million in players on the IR. They did not convincingly shut the game down and were dominated towards the end of the game, however, they did push shots to the outside and none were really of much threat. Tough luck for Jonathan Bernier on the power play goal. He looked good for a shutout up until that point and was in control of the game.

 Player Notes

  • Phil Kessel – Really good game from Phil. Was regularly first forward back, was more noticeable in his puck battles and was skating in the dirty areas. Phil had a goal and 2 assists, the first assist being an absolutely beautiful play setting up Kadri. Nice to see two gifted players finishing off a play that few others could make happen. Randy kept his minutes down to 12:39 and just 11:38 at evens. Amazing production considering and he’s certainly being kept fresh for tomorrow’s game against Chicago.
  • Nazem Kadri –  Played well alongside Phil and Winnik. 54% on the dot and 4 SOG.  It would be nice to be able to see him on power-play one with Phil, as he deserves it. Again, low ice time for Kadri at 13mins and 12 at evens.
  • Daniel Winnik – Great game from Winnik. was a beast on loose pucks and along the boards, played very intelligently all over the ice. Was the primary puck retriever on L1 and helped the line. He does lack a goal scorer’s touch, but he doesn’t look out of place shift to shift with his good speed, tenacity, and ability to find open men. Nice to see him bury a great chance alone in the slot in his 500th NHL game. Excellent job killing penalties and was a key factor for the Leafs winning offensively and defensively tonight. He’s been a huge addition for the Maple Leafs and one of the unsung heroes so far. Nice to see him get rewarded because he’s bringing something every game for them. 1g, 2a.
  • James van Riemsdyk – Still finding his way on a line with Clarkson; hasn’t hit his stride yet. Didn’t generate a lot of chances with almost 20 minutes of ice time. Glad to see that his head is fine after taking heavy fall in the boards. Waiting for a game where he takes over like he did on occasion last year.
  • Tyler Bozak – Good game for Bozak. 54% on the dot, was committed to one-on-one battles and was playing the game at fast rate. Unlucky to hit a post after making a great play at the blue line anticipating the play and stripping the defenseman of the puck. We still don’t know how he’s going to fare on his own—without Phil—until they play against opposition that puts them to the test.
  • David Clarkson – Really strong game from Clarkson. Played whistle-to-whistle, initiated a lot of contact, had a power play goal and could have had another if he concentrated on getting it off quickly instead of a pretty toe drag. He’s playing with confidence and he looked good alongside Bozak.
  • Leo Komarov – Yet another great game from Leo. Was a pest all over the ice, great on the cycle, was a catalyst on the PK.
  • Mike Santorelli – 63% on the dot, great job on the cycle and spent a lot of time in Columbus’ end. Wasn’t creating offense, but had a great deal of detail in his game tonight.
  • Richard Panik – Looked better higher up the lineup on a line with two good possession players. Was engaged physically and didn’t look out of place like he does on the fourth line sometimes. Again, hard to tell against soft opposition. We’ll find out tomorrow more about him playing higher in the lineup.
  • Carter Ashton – For the first game of the year, the coaching staff has to be happy with Ashton’s game. Was physical and hard on the forecheck, made good plays with the puck and worked hard coming back with two takeaways off the rush. Didn’t get a ton of ice time as the last minute of the game was garbage time. Fourth line looked better than it has in the past.
  • Peter Holland – Played all three situations: penalty kill, power-play and even strength. Sent a nice pass to Dion Phaneuf on the power play which ended up being a shot deflected by Clarkson. The coaching staff is giving him as much opportunities they can with special teams opportunities. The fourth line doesn’t look great yet, but that’s the best we’ve seen out of them to date.
  • Matt Frattin – Up-and-down game for Frattin. Had a couple good shifts, but also took a marginal penalty that cost the Leafs the only goal against. Plays like this will not endear him to the coaching staff or allow them to trust the fourth line with safe minutes. The trio were given pillow soft minutes with 75% offensive zone starts, which shows where the trust level is at with them at this stage.
  • Morgan Rielly – Big game from Big Mo. Was paired with Polak and played in all situations. Was surprisingly good on the penalty kill, especially on one occasion where he had no lane and just stated calmly out, across the neutral zone and into the offensive zone. Played almost 2mins on the PK. Having a solid, steady defence partner is helping Morgan and he is starting to look like a future top pairing defenceman.
  • Roman Polak –  Good game from Polak tonight. Played huge minutes, was his usual nasty bit of business, made good breakout passes, blocked shots, took care of business after the whistle, and drove play north.
  • Dion Phaneuf –  Didn’t love his game tonight. Was caught running around on a couple of occasions. Was guarding the wrong side of the ice on a number of occasions and is still allowing forwards on the puck first when he has the opportunity to get to the puck before them, electing to instead try and pin with a one-hand poke check/flush. While that works on some occasions—and for a heavy minute defenceman, I can see the benefits of not wearing yourself down by taking on every little battle—it’s becoming his default move in one-on-one coverage and that is alarming. Dion needs to get to pucks first,  stand players up, and strip/flush, which he has done as well as anyone in the league previously. He wasn’t doing this as much at the start of last season, and started to do it towards the end when he faltered down the stretch. His minutes are being limited to below 25 minutes a night and typically under 23, so he should be able to withstand the punishment. Carlyle tried to get Franson and Phaneuf out when the 4th line was out, so a good portion of he and Franson’s minutes came with L4.
  • Cody Franson –  Good game from Cody. He gets a lot of flak, but he is better defensively this year alongside Dion. His angles are better, and he’s timing his pinches better—two areas of his game that were previously suspect. As usual, he was great at directing quick wrist/snapshots at the net all evening. Great job on the Kessel goal; a pass/shot to Kadri, who tipped it to Winnik and the rebound went to a wide open Phil.
  • Jake Gardiner – Is still not his confident self yet, but did a great job breaking out tonight. There were a number of times where there were no options and he instead reversed the puck and waited for forward support. Still waiting for the Jake of last year (down the stretch) to show up.
  • Stephane Robidas – Good game from him tonight. He was given fairly easy minutes and the highest offensive zone starts of any defenseman. He looked good in his own zone and had very clever, “vet” plays that you don’t see other players make. Pulled off a spin backhanded indirect pass tape to tape and out. Not easy to do, and he had a couple of those tonight. Good for 60% possession at evens tonight.
  • Jonathan Bernier – .966 save% and looked calm, cool, and collected. Was directing shots into corners and kicking them north to start a quick break all night long.


3rd period shots
3rd period shots

Toronto Maple Leafs vs Columbus Blue Jackets

3D. PhaneufD0111212-1:193:2821:44
4C. FransonD0001021-0:461:3118:55
12S. RobidasD0000000-0:003:2518:16
18R. PanikR0000002-0:000:2213:44
21J. van RiemsdykL000001050%1:151:3019:46
24P. HollandC011001243%1:052:029:35
25M. SantorelliC000003063%0:000:0015:03
26D. WinnikC123303283%0:004:5818:03
37C. AshtonR0000002-0:000:007:38
39M. FrattinR0000211-0:000:006:57
42T. BozakC000002154%1:150:5519:42
43N. KadriC112304154%1:050:2213:02
44M. RiellyD0001001-1:341:5720:49
46R. PolakD0002223-0:003:0823:10
47L. KomarovC000000586%0:003:3117:52
51J. GardinerD0001010-1:010:1117:28
71D. ClarksonR10102400%1:190:0019:02
81P. KesselR1233020-1:010:0012:39
34J. Reimer0 - 0000:00
45J. Bernier28 - 290.966059:45:00

Toronto Maple Leafs vs Columbus Blue Jackets Possession

#NamePositionCFCACorsiCorsi For%Zone Start%CF - ESCA - ESCorsi - ESCorsi For% - ESZone Start% - ES
46ROMAN POLAKD1721-44514171705017
47LEO KOMAROVC1114-34415111015220
26DANIEL WINNIKC1216-44315111015221
18RICHARD PANIKR1091532510915325
25MIKE SANTORELLIC1073592510735925
44MORGAN RIELLYD1516-148371214-24627
42TYLER BOZAKC1619-346271417-34528
71DAVID CLARKSONR1517-247381317-44328
4CODY FRANSOND1616050251416-24729
43NAZEM KADRIC121025542101005030
81PHIL KESSELC121025530111015230
3DION PHANEUFD1625-939351417-34531
45JONATHAN BERNIERG4351-846323941-24932
21JAMES VAN RIEMSDYKL1320-739381216-44333
51JAKE GARDINERD101005046910-14746
12STEPHANE ROBIDASD1214-2464512846056
24PETER HOLLANDC610-4388346-24075
37CARTER ASHTONR66050756605075
39MATT FRATTINR55050755505075

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Photo: Abelimages via Getty Images

The Maple Leafs are facing a Chara-less Boston Bruins squad for the first time and the Bruins are looking at, for the first time, not having their captain in their lineup and what the future on their backend will look like. He has been remarkably healthy playing 77, 48, 79, 81, 80, 80, 77 over the past 7 seasons; incredible considering the robust style he plays.

Boston has made some moves based on fit (Kessel, Seguin) or money (Iginla, Boychuk) and were able to get away with it for a time and seemingly could let elite players, former elite players, or top pairing defenceman go and have no penalty based on the strength of their cup winning core. That theory is going to tested over the next 4-6 weeks.

While Chara doesn’t even look like the player he was a year ago—he is visibly getting slower and is getting caught making more and more mistakes—he is still a massive part, and the captain, of the Boston Bruins.

Phil Kessel is licking his chops at facing a struggling Boston Bruins squad (4-5-0) and a not-mutually-exclusive struggling Tukka Rask (2.91GAA, .880%). It’s not out of the question that the Maple Leafs could be seeing backup goalie, Niklas Svedberg, who has a searing .951% save percentage and 1.57GAA.

Regardless, this is not the same team that the Maple Leafs used to fear and who had a psychological stranglehold on them over a few seasons of regular seasons beatdowns and, of course, ‘Game 7′. There’s a changing of the guard happening in the East and Boston isn’t trending upwards.

There’s been a dearth of Maple Leafs news, but that is sure to change today and tomorrow.

Friday Links:

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John Tavares, Dion Phaneuf
UNIONDALE, NY - MARCH 08: John Tavares #91 of the New York Islanders chases Dion Phaneuf #3 of the Toronto Maple Leafs on March 8, 2011 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Toronto Maple Leafs (2-3-1) are in New York to take on the Islanders (4-1-0).

Toronto is looking to rebound after two back-to-back losses against the Detroit Red Wings on Friday and Saturday with a better effort against the Islanders tonight.

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Maple Leafs defenceman Dion Phaneuf, left, checks Islanders forward John Tavares in Toronto on Tuesday, January 7, 2014. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)

With back to back losses to the Detroit Red Wings in the rear view, the Toronto Maple Leafs now look ahead to facing the New York Islanders on Tuesday.

Things won’t get any easier —Toronto is taking on a Islander team that is on fire and appears to be the real deal with a 0.800 win percentage. Trying to take positives from a team that’s coming off of back-to-back losses to the Wings, the Maple Leafs haven’t held a team goalless in regulation in almost a full calendar year (Oct. 29th – 4-0 win vs Edmonton). You can see in fits and starts that the Leafs are defending better at times through the neutral zone and the defensive zone coverage is better than last year—it’s just still not good enough.

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TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 8: Tyler Bozak #42 of the Toronto Maple Leafs shoots the puck as Semyon Varlamov #1 of the Colorado Avalanche defends the goal during NHL game action October 8, 2013 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Colorado Avalanche (1-2-0) come into town tonight on the 2nd half of a back-to-back and look to improve upon their poor start to the season—much the same as the Toronto Maple Leafs (1-2-0).

The last time that these two teams met, the Maple Leafs blew them out 5-2 and it was a wide-open affair. It was a game of turnovers and end-to-end action, and more of the same should probably be expected.

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The Maple Leafs were completely dominated by the Penguins, and the team looked as dysfunctional as it did at the end of the 2013-2014 season.

leafs-penguins-team-report Despite a fast paced start the game, and outshooting the Penguins for the first 6:30, the Leafs spiralled badly after that, looking slow and terrified to make a mistake. Apparently, I’m not the only one that saw that.

The team didn’t appear to win a puck battle all night and backed away from contact, turned the puck over regularly, and played an overall brutal game, one was also worsened by taking a number of undisciplined penalties to sink the team even further. Lots of finger pointing is sure to happen, but the players have to look at themselves in the mirrors and take full responsibility for not showing up prepared and ready to play. They folded up shop quickly and didn’t look like they wanted back in the game at all.

If you want to know where puck possession starts and ends, this quote is a good place to start:

Hot take from the team’s best players:

Kessel Audio

Lupul Audio


Toronto Maple Leafs vs Pittsburgh Penguins Shot Chart
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Pittsburgh Penguins Shot Chart

Penguins vs Maple Leafs Corsi


Stats via

Toroto Maple Leafs vs Pittsburgh Penguins Corsi%

PlayerAll SituationsESESESESES
#NamePositionCorsi ForCorsi AgainstCorsiCorsi For%Zone Start%Corsi ForCorsi AgainstCorsiCorsi For%Zone Start%
3OLLI MAATTAD2018253172010106722
4ROB SCUDERID921-123017710-34150
7PAUL MARTIND2923656332511146962
9PASCAL DUPUISL1718-14936131125450
10CHRISTIAN EHRHOFFD31141769622812167062
13NICK SPALINGC1495614014866450
14CHRIS KUNITZL2710177370151056040
16BRANDON SUTTERC191905027151056050
17BLAKE COMEAUL15786833155107533
23STEVE DOWNIER116565299636029
27CRAIG ADAMSR14122544013766567
29MARC-ANDRE FLEURYG70521857415432226345
38ZACH SILLC1293575012935750
47SIMON DESPRESD101005050101005050
57MARCEL GOCC1213-1481712846020
58KRIS LETANGD3118136347201196530
71EVGENI MALKINC2710177371151056056
72PATRIC HORNQVISTR286228278166107350
87SIDNEY CROSBYC261016727815697167
Maple Leafs
PlayerAll SituationsESESESESES
#NamePositionCorsi ForCorsi AgainstCorsiCorsi For%Zone Start%Corsi ForCorsi AgainstCorsiCorsi For%Zone Start%
3DION PHANEUFD2026-643561014-44250
12STEPHANE ROBIDASD519-142138513-82850
18RICHARD PANIKR416-122033416-122033
19JOFFREY LUPULR24141063771214-24670
21JAMES VAN RIEMSDYKL1924-544751118-73850
24PETER HOLLANDC420-161750418-141850
25MIKE SANTORELLIC58-3384058-33840
26DANIEL WINNIKC95464209278229
42TYLER BOZAKC1920-149641115-44250
43NAZEM KADRIC2412126777121205070
44MORGAN RIELLYD2322151751321-83862
45JONATHAN BERNIERG5271-1942593255-233755
46ROMAN POLAKD1332-1929361322-93750
47LEO KOMAROVC520-152029510-53340
50STUART PERCYD1423-938551120-93550
51JAKE GARDINERD2520556751220-83862
67BRANDON KOZUNR820-122950817-93250
71DAVID CLARKSONR151235686612-63380
81PHIL KESSELC1723-64285921-123067
Toroto Maple Leafs vs Pittsburgh Penguins Corsi%

3O. MaattaD0000010-0:263:3817:58
4R. ScuderiD0000003-0:005:4718:39
7P. MartinD0111034-1:165:4224:09
9P. DupuisR0001051-1:162:5717:56
10C. EhrhoffD0112030-1:240:2920:29
13N. SpalingC000121050%0:201:4713:01
14C. KunitzL1010044-3:490:1515:14
16B. SutterC101103145%1:303:1318:50
17B. ComeauL0000213100%0:001:1012:41
23S. DownieR0000204100%1:160:0012:22
27C. AdamsR000000350%0:003:4812:25
38Z. SillC0001003-0:000:009:42
47S. DespresD0001714-0:000:1514:09
57M. GocC000002055%0:002:4313:23
58K. LetangD0220211-3:412:5321:16
71E. MalkinC123123133%3:230:0015:27
72P. HornqvistR1121093-3:290:0014:06
87S. CrosbyC123004047%3:351:3316:38
29M. Fleury (W) 2-0-016 - 1609-Jul0 - 023 - 250.92059:50:00
Maple Leafs
3D. PhaneufD0000027-4:153:0719:40
12S. RobidasD0000002-0:002:0813:33
18R. PanikR000-1003-0:000:008:17
19J. LupulL101-1051-4:410:0017:57
21J. van RiemsdykL000054250%4:311:2818:02
24P. HollandC000-121038%0:000:5510:01
25M. SantorelliC000000033%0:020:2412:15
26D. WinnikC0000220100%0:002:0012:31
42T. BozakC101002157%4:310:4916:31
43N. KadriC000-101255%4:490:0017:44
44M. RiellyD011-2031-5:050:1521:53
46R. PolakD0000014-0:023:1120:49
47L. KomarovC000000550%0:102:5714:58
50S. PercyD0110021-2:541:2920:21
51J. GardinerD011-2000-5:480:0023:04
67B. KozunR000-1000-0:080:5312:05
71D. ClarksonR0000215-4:050:0015:16
81P. KesselR000-1410-4:310:0016:51
45J. Bernier (L) 0-2-028 - 3009-Jun02-Feb36 - 410.878060:00:00

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The Maple Leafs looked sharp, determined and detailed — especially for a preseason game — easily handling the Detroit Red Wings in their final game of the 2014 preseason.

The Leafs’ few days off allowed the coaching staff to work with a roster that will more closely resemble the opening night iteration and continue to refine some system tweaks that were so direly needed.