Saturday, May 23, 2015
Authors Posts by Garrett Bauman

Garrett Bauman


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    The Toronto Maple Leafs continue their homestand tonight against the visiting Oilers, in a game that marks former Leafs’ coach Pat Quinn’s return to the Air Canada Centre.

    The Oilers have had a disappointing season, to say the least, and are the leading contenders for the Hall/Seguin sweepstakes this summer. Edmonton fans are salivating at the thought of Taylor Hall one day lining up alongside Canadian Junior team hero Jordan Eberle, wearing copper and blue.

    For the time being, however, the Oilers are a team in the midst of yet another rebuilding phase, a process with which Leafs’ fans can certainly relate. In many ways, the two teams are quite similar: inconsistent youth, underachieving veterans, untimely injuries and weak goaltending have plagued both rosters throughout the season. The Leafs look to have begun the process of righting the ship; the Oilers will look to make similar moves (purging of veteran contracts in favor of youthful exuberance) during the summer.

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      (On the road … so here is a quick thread for tonight’s action.)

      The Toronto Maple Leafs (21-33-12), who are coming off a hard-fought overtime win over the Boston Bruins, are host to the Tampa Bay Lightning (27-27-11), tonight at 7pm.

      The Leafs, who are all but officially out of the playoff race, are playing for jobs next season. To that end, the young players on the roster have put together a string of impressive efforts, and if their resilient play continues, few players will anonymously refer to them as an “AHL team”.

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        Fresh off last night’s hard-hitting victory over the Ottawa Senators, the Maple Leafs face another physical game tonight as they visit the Philadelphia Flyers.

        Tonight’s game will be the fourth in six nights for a Toronto squad which has undergone some significant changes in the past week. The Leafs will enter the game physically tired, but mentally inspired following Saturday’s victory over Ottawa and a terrific effort in a shootout loss to the Boston Bruins on Thursday night.

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          Somewhat understandably, a great number of people will be upset with what ended up unfolding (or not unfolding) as Trade Deadline Day progressed, in particular with regard to Tomas Kaberle.

          A new twist in the latest “will he or won’t he” saga involving a star player for the Toronto Maple Leafs kickstarted a ravenous day of trade rumours, one which ended disappointingly for all those who dared to believe that a King’s ransom was just around the corner.

          However, things are never quite so simple as they first seem.  And where some are seething with rage, others are basking in the glow of a new-found respect for the class displayed today, for all of us to see, by both the player and the general manager in the face of the onslaught which predictably ensued.

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            A quick morning update to the Leafs’ rumour mill.

            Don’t forget to join our live chat starting at 10am today! MLHS writers will be dropping in throughout the day; I will be checking in around noon myself. See you all there!

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              With the Olympics wrapping up (and in the process Canada securing the record for most gold medals, capped off by our Men’s and Women’s hockey teams), the focus among hockey fans now shifts to the NHL trade deadline.

              While there are few untouchables on the Maple Leafs’ roster, speculation is that only a handful of players are likely to be dealt between Monday and Wednesday. Here’s a look at some of the speculation surrounding the most-talked about candidates to swap jerseys.

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                The gold medal game is upon us, and fittingly, Canada will face off against their US rivals in a battle of hockey’s elite. The US team, led by Zach Parise, Patrick Kane, and of course Ryan Miller, will look to grind out another victory over Team Canada, while the Canadians will seek to avenge a tough 5-3 loss to the Americans in the round-robin phase of the tournament.

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                  In the aftermath of a huge win over Russia, where Team Canada surprising outscored their rivals to the tune of 7-3, fans immediately – and naturally, I might add – began to eagerly anticipate the realistic possibility of a re-match versus the United States for the Gold Medal.

                  Only many seem to have overlooked one significant detail: a red-hot Slovakian team standing between Canada and the final game.

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                    Fresh off last night’s 8-2 thumping of the Germans, Team Canada will look to translate that momentum into yet another strong performance as they prepare to face the Russians this evening (7:30 EST/4:30 PST on CTV).

                    True, the victory last night was over a German team which was not exactly expected to be a medal contender to begin with. However, a win is a win and last night’s performance should serve to help some of the bitterness and doubt stemming from Sunday’s loss to the United States subside.

                    As in all sports, momentum is key and Team Canada will certainly need all they can get against a typically strong Russian squad.   The Russians are fast and skilled, but not overly physical; if the Canadians can get in a couple of momentum-setting hits from the outset, establishing control throughout the game will become a much easier task.

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                      Per Darren Dreger (TSN):

                      “MRI determines Keith Aulie requires shoulder surgery. He’s done for the year.”

                      Not expected to play with the Maple Leafs at any point this season, Aulie was set to receive big minutes down the stretch with the AHL Marlies as the NHL club evaluated his progress with an eye toward the future. Although the injury is an unfortunate development for the well-regarded blueline prospect, he is still considered to be at least another year away from being ready for full-time NHL duty.  In that respect, the overall impact of the time missed will be minimal.

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                        Seeming lost in all the hype and fervor over the Olympics was the recent return to action of one Chris Didomenico. A surprise selection for the 2009 World Junior Championships, Didomenico suffered a badly broken leg in the QMJHL Finals, an injury which had many questioning his ability to return.

                        As the updates came in, Didomenico continued to show excellent progress in his rehabilitation.  His efforts were finally rewarded last Wednesday when, in his first game back with Drummondville of the QMJHL, he scored a goal and added three assists. As of this writing, Didomenico has recorded 2 goals and 4 assists in 3 games.

                        Breathe easy, Leafs’ fans.  It looks as though “Dido” is back on track.

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                          Ever since the Leafs’ late-offseason acquisition of Phil Kessel, his performance has been (understandably) heavily-scrutinized in the face of the hefty amount of futures given up to secure the extremely talented winger.

                          Kessel’s season has, in some ways, mirrored that of his teammates, with periods of great productivity followed by periods of near-invisibility. However, considering a host of issues which seemingly stood in the way of a productive season, including significant shoulder surgery, causing him to miss out on training camp, and the lack of talent surrounding him, the Leafs’ young sniper has produced at a rate which, in the context of the aforementioned factors, is actually quite impressive.

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                            The Toronto Maple Leafs visit the St. Louis Blues tonight, in the Leafs’ final game prior to the NHL’s Olympic break.

                            The Leafs are coming off a narrow loss to the West-leading San Jose Sharks, a game which left the team with much to feel good about.  Tonight, the team will look to resolve their road woes and enter the break on a high note, by capitalizing on what has been an inconsistent and underachieving Blues squad.

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                              Earlier today on a certain Toronto radio show, a grim portrait of Jonas Gustavsson’s future was painted, citing the 32 games he has appeared in so far in his career – most of those starts behind a lacklustre team – as evidence that he may never develop into the sort of goaltender the Leafs envisioned when signing him out of the Swedish Elite League.

                              The crux of the argument was that 32 games should be enough for Gustavsson to have shown some ability to adapt to goaltending coach Francois Allaire’s techniques, and that at 25 years of age it may be too late for him to make the necessary adjustments for NHL success.

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                                Random talking points on a variety of topics including Giguere’s shutout streak, a refreshing new attitude, the Schenn/Phaneuf connection, pending UFAs and more.

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                                  For the second time in four days the Maple Leafs will face off against the New Jersey Devils, this time at the ACC. In what seems to be the most nonsensical decision made in recent memory by NHL schedulers, come this Friday the Leafs and Devils will have faced off three times in one calendar week. What’s up with that?

                                  As you are all undoubtedly aware, the Leafs have a few new faces in the fold, and we are all eager to see what Phaneuf, Sjostrom, and Giguere bring to the table as members of the blue and white.

                                  Note: I won’t get into trade analysis here; that has already been covered in excellent fashion by the MLHS crew in prior posts.

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                                    To Toronto: Keith Aulie, Dion Phaneuf, Frederick Sjostrom

                                    To Calgary: Matt Stajan, Niklas Hagman, Jamal Mayers, Ian White

                                    A second trade is expected to be announced shortly, involving J-S Giguere.


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                                      Tonight the ACC is host to a special pregame event: Canadian Forces Appreciation Night, to honour of the thousands of men and women who serve in the Canadian military. The event is said to feature members of the military rappelling from the rafters, a visit from the Chief of the Defense Staff, and a guest appearance by singer Alan Frew (formerly of Glass Tiger).

                                      Oh, and there’s a hockey game, too.