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Jon Steitzer

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Jon survived in the wild for several years but now lives in captivity. His diet consists of meats and grains. He is on twitter dot com. Visit him at twitter.com/yakovmironov or his oft-neglected site yakovmironov.blogspot.ca

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Phil Kessel

Earlier today we were gifted this most glamourous of shots. Wyatt Arndt has set the bar pretty high with his Kesselquin Romance series, but that’s no reason we can’t pile on. If you want to join the photochopping party, hack away at the picture above. Below is my “Phil Kessel is America” series, and a couple of bonus chops. If you’re feeling up to it throw yours in the comment section.

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A quick show of hands: Last summer, who had Mark Fraser on the Leafs opening day roster? Anyone? If you did, I have my doubts you had him in the lineup, not the press box. Of course, the law of averages say some of you had to be Mark Fraser believers, but for most of us his arrival didn’t seem to plausible until he began to establish himself as one of the Marlies top defenders in the first half of the AHL season.

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I’m sure I’m not the only one struggling to care about the playoffs. As talented as the remaining teams are, I’m not interested in the hearing the winner of the Stanley Cup become dubbed the next great NHL dynasty. The fact that Boston could claim that honour makes it sting a little worse, as I’m sure another reason I have completely tuned out of the playoffs is the absence of the Leafs after believing it was a real possibility they would be in it for at least four more games.

So, truthfully, I haven’t been watching too much hockey and don’t have much to say today. Rather than weigh you down with my thoughts on the Leafs when admittedly I haven’t been paying too close attention, I’ll turn it over to the comments section and the spiffy new Livefyre comment system to find out the more popular outcome of a few different scenarios:

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Tyler Bozak

Tyler Bozak. Ugh.

That pretty much sums up my thoughts on Tyler Bozak. His performance this season has been scrutinized heavily and he has become one of the most polarizing figures on the Leafs roster. Here we are in the off season, either putting the final nail in the coffin that has been his Leafs career or gearing up for a substantial contract that will drastically challenge the Leafs ability to fill out a roster in a tighter cap environment.

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Here we are, five weeks away from the draft and we are still waiting on the Leafs final draft position. At this point it seems like it’s going to be either 20th or 21st depending on whether or not the Red Wings can close out the Blackhawks. Either way, it certainly doesn’t match the fanfare of last season’s fifth overall pick and puts the Leafs back in the spot where they might choose the safe pick over shooting for high end talent.

I can’t help but think the Leafs have the opportunity to land a top ten high end talent while still getting a safe role player with a late round pick. That option is Curtis Lazar, centre for the Edmonton Oil Kings, who was at one point considered a possibility to go top five in the draft but has bounced down to the lower picks of the first round and now back towards the middle again.

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Over the course of the year I have been tracking the Leafs goals in a spreadsheet, largely for the purpose of looking at primary/secondary assists but also for tracking situational statistics. It was through this spreadsheet that I noticed the most amusing fact of the season; that Tyler Bozak finished the year never having had a primary assist on a James van Riemsdyk goal. Amazing since he was his centre for most of the season, and presumably at some point he might have tried passing to him instead of Kessel. I’ll build my case against Bozak some other time, so instead I put together an infographic of Leafs scoring data. Hope you find it interesting. The spreadsheet of data can be found here (2011-12 data is here.)

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Lee Stempniak, Andrew Raycroft, Vesa Toskala, Jonas Gustavsson, Brett Lebda, John Ferguson Jr. Those and others like them have plagued the Maple Leafs for the past eight seasons and gave us fits of hopelessness, despair, and rage. Tonight represents the the culmination of Toronto’s retooling; the first playoff game in the Air Canada Centre since May 4th, 2004.

As much as our excitement over a first round series has been mocked , it’s generally falling on deaf ears. Are we over doing it for a first round series? I don’t think so. I think the hockey world is just getting reacquainted with how real hockey fans support their team in the playoffs. Hockey in Toronto is not confined to the arena, it spills out across the entire city.

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Beggars can’t be choosers I guess. And thanks to the Senators, instead of a historic matchup against the Canadiens the Leafs will be facing the bastards from Bean town. (Here’s a great recap of all of this seasons matchups).

One year ago the articles on this series would be darker than Marc Savards house, but thankfully the Bruins have been falling down to Earth to the point that the Leafs have finally been able to grab a win off of them.

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Good Day MLHS readers! How was your Sunday? Did you find that you got your best night’s sleep? Did the air feel a little crisper, the sun shine a little brighter? Does everything in your life feel significantly better? I sure found that to be the case. Why? THE LEAFS ARE IN THE MUTHA FUNKIN’ PLAYOFFS!!!1 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

(Deep Breath)

Okay, I’m good now. This weekend is just the start of the good times, we’ve got at least four hockey games in May worth watching and I’ll optimistically say I think we’ll be seeing more than seven this year. We may not yet know who the Leafs are playing in round one, but we know for sure that CBC will be the network carrying the games.

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The Leafs are presently sitting at 99.9% likelihood of making the playoffs, with a magic number of 5, and one point away from the number deemed by many to necessary to make the playoffs. Ultimately, we’re at the point where the Leafs can crash and burn and we can still count on hockey in May.

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With just ten games left on the schedule for the Leafs this season, here are ten thoughts I’ve been considering heading into those final games.

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The Leafs are now 11 games away from a potential post season berth, and with Sports Club Stats putting them at 98% odds to make it (as of Friday morning), there is a good chance that one of the organizations most embarrassing streaks is about to be retired.

There is one thing that is even more rare in the playoffs than the Leafs and that’s the hired goon. Shocking I know since they are such important parts of the regular season (feel free to assume I rolled my eyes here), but last season’s Stanley Cup Finalists didn’t find it necessary to dress either Cam Janssen or Kevin Westgarth in a single playoff game. Of course, we are a couple of years removed from the Bruins dressing Shawn Thornton for 18 playoff games, but at the time Thornton was good enough to hold a regular shift in the league (10 minutes a night is somewhat regular, and was dressed for 79 games in the regular season) and he did see the press box and reduced ice time during the cup run.

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While it may not be as exciting as next week’s trade deadline, the College Free Agent signing season is now underway. At the moment the Lightning seem to be faring the best, landing the 6’8 Czech Andrej Sustr, a player that as many as 25 NHL teams were looking into, including the Leafs.

The new target on the blueline could now be Danny DeKeyser, a 6’3, 186lb. American from Western Michigan University.

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Kudos if you’re reading this before noon, and my condolences if the only reason you’re reading it early is because you forgot to book Monday off work. Happy Advil Day! I’ll have an actual post later in the week, but the Leafs not playing until Wednesday hasn’t left me with much to say beyond the usual, “Holzer sucks, Free Gardiner, and Trade Bozak.”

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Corey Perry

With just over three weeks to go until the trade deadline, I feel as if I can get away with a rosterbation post without too much scrutiny. I’ll do my best to not go full HFBoards with my ideas, but certainly have a few players in mind that I’d like for the Leafs to target, and a few that I’d like Nonis to jettison. While I’m sure this won’t be the most intelligent post you’ll read this morning, hopefully it will at least spark some Monday morning conversation.

No games for three days makes for very little in Maple Leafs land development. There’s Komisarek’s laughable trade request, there’s Frattin’s potential return to the lineup this week, and there’s still the question of why isn’t Gardiner on the Maple Leafs, but for the most part all of it is nothing more than a waiting game. Instead, I’m going to look at the most basic of stats (goals and assists) and how the first line forwards are doing in those categories.

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The Leafs closed out February strong with a win over the New York Islanders in front of all 30 of their diehard fans. They have finished the month 9-7-0, giving them 26 points on the year, matching their first 22 games of last season. Oh, and Nazem Kadri had a hat trick.

The always tedious Hockey Night in Canada Hot Stove brought us a worthwhile nugget to examine this weekend, and that’s our first look at the proposed four new conferences that the NHL will be rolling out next season. Earlier in the week, both Darren Dreger and the more reliable Bob MacKenzie hinted that we are only a week or two away from this realignment being finalized, so we can assume this is pretty close to being set in stone:

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The month’s half over, and after Monday’s game, the season is a third over. The Leafs are sitting three games over .500, holding 6th place in the East, and are currently on pace for 58 points (rounded up from 57.6) in a season where many prognosticators have considered 54 the magic number for making the post season.

So far, the Leafs are sitting pretty despite now being without Reimer, Gunnarsson, Frattin and Lupul. The Leafs have benefited from a friendly schedule. The average 2011-12 point total of their opposition has be 91, which averages out to facing a bubble team every night. This also doesn’t account for the dramatic drop off in teams like Washington, Philadelphia, and now Ottawa. Compare that to the average of 95 points in March and the average of 94 in April and it makes sense that the Leafs are coming out of the gates strong.