He glided down the ice, not showing any sort of intimidation despite the fact he was a little out of his element.Â Like a veteran, he flew down the wing and fired a shot that eluded the goaltender.Â It was his first NHL goal.Â It was his first NHL game.
He skated through the neutral zone, accepting a stretch pass, only to be met by a member of the opposition, whoâ€™s eyes were as big as saucers, knowing he was going to catch him.Â He was leveled, sent for a trip down dream street.Â A hit that caused a nasty gash to open up over his eye, blood streamed out of his nose.Â It was his 425th NHL game.
All 425, as a member of his hometown team, the Toronto Maple Leafs.
For all the headlines the franchise had made off the ice, it's the Phoenix Coyotes on ice product that should be making the news.
Led by a core of young, talented hard working players, and solid goaltending by Ilya Bryzgalov, the Coyotes have been one of the biggest surprises in the NHL this season, and continued their winning ways tonight defeating the Leafs 6-3 in Toronto, denying the Leafs of their fifth straight win on home ice.
Petr Prucha score twice for the Coyotes, while Vernon Fiddler, Paul Bissonnette, Scottie Upshall and Radim Vrbata all tallied singles for Phoenix. Â Jamal Mayers, Phil Kessel, and Alexei Ponikarovsky replied for Toronto.
Niklas Hagman, with 15 goals, sits 18 in goals scored this season, fellow european Alexei Ponikarovsky is a little further down, ranked 29th in NHL goal scoring with 12 on the year so far.
Phil Kessel and Matt Stajan both have more goals than Brad Richards, Nicklas Backstrom, Henrik Zetterberg, and Patrick Kane.
And while these stats are a welcome sight to most fans, many would agree that the secret to the Leafs success lies much deeper.Â At least, much deeper down the depth chart. [more…]
For the second time in a week, the Maple Leafs have felt the wrath of the Boston Bruins on home ice, only this time there were distinct differences from Saturday's 7-2 beat down.
The Leafs, after sleepwalking through two periods of the hockey game, decided to bring their game in the third and made things interesting with goals by Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin to pull them within a goal of the Bruins. Â A late, costly penalty by Leafs winger Jason Blake sealed their fate however, as the penalty kill sagged once again, and Mark Recchi scored with under three minutes left to ice the game for the Bruins.
It took a while, but the Toronto Maple Leafs are finally starting to look comfortable on home ice, and on the ice in general, as one of their better overall team efforts led to a 3-2 win over the New York Islanders on Wednesday night in front of a joyful, loud crowd at the Air Canada Centre.
Jason Blake scored the winner with just under five minutes left in the third period as the Leafs skated away with a hard fought 3-2 win.
Francois Beauchemin and Ian White also scored for Toronto, who improved to 7-2-2 in their last eleven games. Â John Tavares scored both goals for the Islanders.