Friday, May 22, 2015
Authors Posts by Mislav Jantoljak

Mislav Jantoljak

246 POSTS 0 COMMENTS
Hi there, I'm Mislav, a hockey writer from Croatia. My weird hockey journey includes the Maple Leafs Hot Stove, covering the Kontinental Hockey League as a Managing Editor at KHL.hr and doing a piece for the Hockey News that one time. This is me on hockey and stuff in between. Enjoy your stay!

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Happy Halloween, MLHS’ers. There aren’t many positives to be drawn from yesterday’s loss but we can be pretty happy with the way this opening month of the season played out for the Maple Leafs.

The month was not without its pitfalls for the hockey club, but the team, more often than not, responded with flying colors. Injuries to Tim Connolly, Nazem Kadri, James Reimer, Colby Armstrong, Tyler Bozak, and  MacArthur’s early suspension were all factors which could have contributed to an ugly period of results for the team. Instead, the Leafs are 7-3-1 and have a lot to look forward to headed into month number two of the 2011-12 campaign.

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    With Pittsburgh missing Crosby, Staal, Michalek and Kennedy the Leafs knew they were in for a game of grinding it out. The team was well prepared to do just that against a team that tested us, then tested us some more. But the two points remained in TO.

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    Photo Credit. THN.com

    Coming in cold against Montreal with in the Bell Centre, in a tense game, probably isn’t an ideal way to win the fans back. Defending the pipes against Boston, when they decide (for the lone game this season) to show everyone what a Cup winner looks like, isn’t exactly walk in the park either (insert an Ilya Bryzgalov joke here).

    I actually think those games combined, coupled with the Rangers game, show the true Jonas Gustavsson right now. When we look at Monster’s fundamentals, which still aren’t good, it’s really easy just to blame it on his development. But we have to remember that his development also wasn’t quite a walk in the park. It was because of this that you’ll still continue to see holes in some of the more fundamental aspects of play, until he himself realizes that those mistakes cost you games. I’m a strong believer in goaltending coaches, but I also think you can only do so much without experience.

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      On a night when the Leafs worryingly placed James Reimer on IR, suffering from what the management still didn’t want to call post concussion woes, we really needed Gus to step up. That he did. It wasn’t spectacular, but he was good.

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      The 1967 Cup winning team

      Ladies and gentlemen, today I’ll try to use a bit of the Leafs’ ever glorious history to try and make today’s rivalry night even more special. Here goes nothing.

      On this day in 1966, our Maple Leafs started paving a road to their last Stanley Cup. They started a season that will forever be remembered in the hearts of Leafs Nation members around the globe. Some of us read about it, watched rare vintage video, some of us even had the privilege to see it live.

      The Cup winning season of 1966-67 started with a 4-4 tie against the New York Rangers. Rangers’ leading point scorer and Hall-of-Famer, Rod Gilbert recorded a hat trick in the game but the Leafs still managed to draw the opener. What’s interesting about this is that the Leafs didn’t actually have a good regular season that year. We finished the 1966-67 regular season in 3rd place out of only six teams.

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        Back half of a back to back against the Bruins. A lot of Bs in that one. A lot of Bs in the game as well. It was a second game in as many nights, but I can’t excuse the team for the mistakes made that had nothing to do with energy but rather hockey systems and fundamentals. Only then can we look at the effort, which wasn’t there from the start. Against teams like Boston, that counts.

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          One of many future games against the Jets, even if they move to the West. Having the Jets back is good for the game and it showed tonight in a very entertaining hockey game. Which the Leafs won. That makes it more entertaining. Welcome back and thanks for coming, but the two points stay in the ACC.

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          Photo Credit: theargus.ca

          September 18th, 2011 was a very special day indeed, it was the two year anniversary of the “dreaded” Kessel trade. On September 18, 2009, the Boston Bruins traded Kessel to the Toronto Maple Leafs, where he quickly signed a five-year, $27 million contract. The Leafs gave Boston their first and second round Entry Draft picks in 2010, as well as a first round Entry Draft pick in 2011. These picks turned to players Tyler Seguin, Jared Knight and Dougie Hamilton.

          Please keep in mind that I’m not playing this card now because Kessel is on fire and has 8 points in three games (including 5 goals) but because I think this is a moment worth remembering. I’m also not looking to start the Kessel deal debate all over again. It was what it was and I’m happy with what/who we got back. That is all.

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            We always love a game of traded jerseys. Lee Stempniak, Matt Stajan, Matthew Lombardi, Niklas Hagman, Dion Phaneuf, Lanny McDonald – wait, that’s getting too far back. Anyways, this game was the best example of what one week’s rust can do to a hockey team. The boys in blue gave up numerous turnovers in the first but managed a supreme comeback to remain perfect.

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            Photo Credit: Gavin Young/Postmedia News/MCT

            STORYLINE:

            The Leafs are looking to prolong their great start to the season against a Canadian rival. Regardless of how people might feel on the issue, the big story tonight will undoubtedly be the play of Cody Franson, who wanted an in game opportunity to prove himself.

            Barring unforeseen circumstances, he’ll get the nod on defense tonight, while Jake Gardiner is expected to sit this one out allowing Franson to make his season debut alongside Mike Komisarek.

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            Photo Credit: Jack Boland/Toronto Sun

            Photo Credit: Jack Boland/Toronto Sun

            As you might have heard, Cody Franson made a really messy debut with the Toronto media today. Here are my two cents on the matter. Before you start reading, this is part of what was said:

            “I don’t want to be a guy that misses games,” says Franson, who is in the final season of his contract. “I’m supposed to be coming into my own. This was supposed to be my breakout year. That’s what I was working towards this summer. I was getting myself into shape to play bigger minutes and a bigger role. I prepared myself for that. For some reason, it just didn’t turn out that way.”

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            From my friend, MarkUKLeaf (Mark Rackham):
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            As many of Leaf Nation now knows, we have just lost a great friend,  a wonderful young lady with a great sense of humour who bled blue and white. Not forgetting of course her LOVE for Grabovski. No matter how she felt, whatever YOU were feeling and how YOU were doing, was always more important to her. She battled so bravely against something so cruel.  It just isn’t fair we lost someone so awesome, so young. I can count myself lucky to have known her better than most though not as well as some. Any words I can try to write here will not do her life justice but I will miss our chats and her awesome British sarcasm. Her final tweets have been compiled at the link below. These last tweets were posted today by her brother with Sam’s wishes after she had passed away. I hope he doesn’t mind me sharing the link here: http://farewellfriends.wordpress.com/For me, this says more about Sam than I ever could.

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            We’ve been there, done that. The Leafs made a great start to last season’s campaign. Where did that get us? Well, in a way it got us here. Change is a good thing. And this Leafs team is much different than the squad that started last season.

            Last year’s start was unexpected. More so because the level of play the team was showing and less so because of the roster depth, which didn’t really look that good on paper. Many would argue that’s still the case, but the quality of play shown in this opening period of the season (ok, we’ll forget 30 minutes of play, 20 of which took them to find their legs on opening night) is really promising.

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              The kind of Battle of Ontario we all like to see, this was a hockey game in all its glory. Big hits, some scraps and a whole lot of goals. Tense stuff, crazy stuff, but most of all plenty of things to be happy about if you’re a Leafs fan. And you are, aren’t you. Being a Sens fan just doesn’t make sense.

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              Photo Credit: Phil Snell/The Canadian Press

              Photo Credit: Phil Snell/The Canadian Press

              This summer was very bleak and devastatingly unkind to hockey. Wade Belak, Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien all lost their lives on dark summer days. An entire KHL hockey team perished in one single moment. We keep talking about racism, headshots, homophobic slurs and concussion effects.

              While they are all worthy topics and certainly merit their place in hockey discussions around the globe, right now, at the beginning of a new season, I feel it’s best to focus on the positive things surrounding our great game.

              A new season always brings fresh optimism about your team’s chances. It’s like a drug to us hockey fans. Anything seems possible. This writer is starting his season talking about all the things that fill him with joy and excitement when watching a hockey game.

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              Photo Credit: Claus Andersen/Getty Images

              I won’t lie. This wasn’t the best of preseason games for this group. The young and willing Detroit team showed more opportunism when it came to their scoring chances and came out with a deserved win.

              This game, perhaps more than any other in preseason, showed there is still a lot of work to be done heading into the regular season. It isn’t all bad. Yes, one can argue that this wasn’t exactly the A+ Detroit team (and it wasn’t, by any means) but there were a lot of hungry players fighting for spots out there. Secondly, I thought the Leafs dominated much of the play at times and just couldn’t put the Wings to bed when they really should have.