Saturday, May 30, 2015
Authors Posts by RJ Emptage

RJ Emptage


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    Fresh off a 2-1 overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils, the Toronto Maple Leafs were back to work, this time at the Bell Centre on Hockey Day in Canada for the fourth meeting of the season against their storied rival Montreal Canadiens. In order for the Leafs to build on their eight point distance from a playoff spot, they would require an effort similar to Thursday night, and have to erase a trend that had seen the home team win the previous three outings.

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      Nathan Denette/Canadian Press

      Fresh off the NHL All-Star break in which their representation fell to last pick overall in the inaugural Fantasy Draft, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Phil Kessel were back to work in their quest for a second half surge towards a bleak playoff hope. In an important game to say the least, the Leafs welcomed the Florida Panthers to a snowy Toronto, a team one spot ahead of them in the Eastern Conference standings and struggling themselves of late. Idling six points back of the Panthers and with time nipping at their heels, nothing short of a regulation victory would be truly beneficial to the collective second-half goal to make a push up the standings.

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        Abelimages/Getty Images

        Responding well to the 7-0 drumming at the hands of the New York Rangers on Wednesday, the Toronto Maple Leafs kept their memories short and put together a strong performance led by Mikhail Grabovski and Clarke MacArthur in a 5-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks Thursday. Facing his former team for the first time since being traded to Toronto, J.S. Giguere provided his mates with stability in goal and allowed their offensive game to transition smoothly while taking control of the game. A leader on and off the ice, Giguere’s poise tends to create a confidence throughout the line-up in front of him, most certainly a trait prompting Leafs President and General Manager Brian Burke to pull the trigger on a deal reuniting the two in Toronto a year ago. Although bombarded with questions regarding his no trade clause earlier that day, Giguere would speak candidly after the game on what the victory over the Ducks meant to the veteran netminder.

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          Nathan Denette/Canadian Press

          The Toronto Maple Leafs ended their four game winning streak with some controversy on Thursday in Phoenix. A Mike Brown hit on Ed Jovanovski caused an uproar and seemed to spark the Coyotes as they took a bite out of the Leafs stride with four third period goals to seal the victory. The recent surge from the Leafs, and especially the play of young goaltender James Reimer, had increased optimism among Leafs Nation surrounding a potential playoff push in the second half of the season. It was that optimism which fueled a variety of debates following the loss as a disciplinary hearing awaited Brown and injuries affected the roster status, leading to the inevitable AHL return of Reimer to the Toronto Marlies.

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            Another year, another roster and yet again another season filled with more questions than answers, losses than wins and still; a yearning desire from a fan-base so passionate and desperate for a glimmer of post season play. That would be the form in which 2010 reflects the Toronto Maple Leafs and their progress back to respectability. Looking to close out 2010 and the back half of a decade filled with mediocrity, the Maple Leafs welcomed the Columbus Blue Jackets to Toronto in hopes of putting one skate forward in their attempt to forge a more successful 2011.

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              Chris Young/Canadian Press

              The Toronto Maple Leafs rolled into a snowy New Jersey on Boxing Day and skated away with a 4-1 victory in front of menial crowd that resembled more of a media gathering in Toronto. Colby Armstrong’s two goals combined with a solid effort throughout the lineup gave the Leafs a win and provided them with the boost desperately needed coming off the Christmas break.

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                Nathan Denette/Canadian Press

                It’s Christmas time and the Maple Leafs don’t have enough points in their stocking. An inconsistent level of play has surely put the team on Santa’s naughty list, leaving it up to the players to start working their way back into playoff contention or at the very least out of lottery pick contention; a task will that will be difficult to achieve at this rate. As if the lump of coal in their future wasn’t enough, the Leafs had to welcome a red hot Atlanta Thrashers squad into to town with both teams looking to head into the holiday break on a positive note. Some extra incentive on the Leaf bench was found in the form of two former Thrashers. Although the team is struggling, on Sunday both Clarke MacArthur and Colby Armstrong expressed no regret with their decision to join the Leafs through free agency. MacArthur, who leads the Leafs in assists (16) and points (25), touched on his new found play-making ability.

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                  Title Clarification: It’s a shot at Glen Healey who last week excused the Oilers’ giveaways on account of their youthful makeup while criticizing the Leafs for the same thing. The Leafs are in fact younger than the Oilers.

                  Being a Toronto Maple Leaf is an honour for all of those who wear the blue and white, but with that honour comes an incredible amount of pressure from a strong and passionate fan base. To provide an example of the difficult environment in which these players are surrounded, one should look no further than the recent roller coaster this team and its fanbase has been riding.

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                    The Toronto Maple Leafs had one day to stir over their frustrating overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning and were hoping to turn the page and move forward as they welcomed the Edmonton Oilers to the Air Canada Centre. With the Oilers in town, fans were treated to a battle between two of the league’s youngest and quickest teams. Unfortunately for both organizations it seems the inexperience is keeping them among the bottom of the NHL Standings and in most statistical categories. On this night, that youth and excitement was one sided as the Oilers counter attacked their way to a 5-0 victory.

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                      Finishing 0-2 and recording just one goal following their weekend road trip, the Toronto Maple Leafs anxiously returned home to the Air Canada Centre, looking to their steady play there as inspiration to get back on track. Despite their dreadful offense on the road, the Leafs have managed to score 12 goals at home in their last three games, all of which have been victories. Eager to continue that trend, the Leafs would need a flawless effort to contain a hungry Tampa Bay Lightning team. After dropping their last two games, the Lightning’s schedule was blessed with a game against the desperate and fragile Leafs. Although the score was in their favor and the game in their hands, the seemingly inevitable collapse transpired and the Lightning took full advantage, bolting to a 4-3 overtime victory.

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                        Kicking off the first of two divisional games on consecutive nights, the Toronto Maple Leafs traveled a short trip down the QEW to take on the Buffalo Sabres at the HSBC Arena in the second of six meetings between the two teams. After tonight’s 3-1 victory, the Sabres now hold a 2-0 record against the Leafs following a 3-2 shootout decision on Nov. 6 in Toronto.

                        During most of Monday’s victory over the Dallas Stars, The Leafs controlled the play on both sides of the ice, and looked to build on that momentum as they searched for their second road win in 6 games. In fact, not since Oct. 15 have the Leafs been able to find the win column while playing away from the Air Canada Centre. If that trend is to change, the offense needs to be a factor and become involved rather quickly, especially against a Buffalo Sabres team who is struggling at home. Although it is the obvious intention, Leaf forward and former Sabre, Clarke MacArthur believes the key to his team’s success was to open the scoring early and build from there.

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                          Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press

                          In the search for a string of victories in order to remove the attention from their recent losing skid, the Toronto Maple Leafs arrived in Quebec for an always exciting brand of Hockey Night in Canada and a game against their longtime rival Montreal Canadiens.

                          Perhaps, some memories of the days when 6am practices were the norm and playing in the NHL was just a dream were flowing among the Maple Leafs, as fathers of the players made the trip to Montreal for their annual father/son event. Supporting their sons and looking to inspire their motivation, the fathers were in for an exciting and emotional game as the Leafs look for an important two points.

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                          Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images

                          A second period outburst against the Nashville Predators dramatically ended the Toronto Maple Leafs eight game losing skid and lifted the weight of the world off of their shoulders. The win on Tuesday looked out of the question as the Predators attacked the Leafs for 3 first period goals, all but collapsing their confidence. A late first period goal from Luke Schenn seemed to lift spirits and sent the Leafs into the locker room with something to build upon. During the second period something clicked with the Maple Leaf power play and as a result they scored four unanswered goals and found themselves in the strange waters of the win column.

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                            Frank Gunn/Canadian Press

                            Mired in a 7 game losing skid, the Toronto Maple Leafs turned to two young rookies as they looked to spark a surge back into the win column. Summoned by GM Brian Burke on Friday, Nazem Kadri and Keith Aulie   debut on the grand stage and spotlight of hockey Night In Canada for a game against the Vancouver Canucks.

                            In Kadri the young draft pick will be looked upon to give the sputtering Leafs offence a much needed boost, while playing on a line with Tyler Bozak and Nikolai Kulemin. Head Coach Ron Wilson touched on Kadri’s capabilities and what he expects from the London Ontario native.

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                            Looking to break out of their current slump and perhaps send a message
                            to underachieving players, the Toronto Maple Leafs have called up
                            forward Nazem Kadri and defenceman Keith Aulie from the Toronto Marlies
                            of the American Hockey League on Friday.

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                              With frustration mounting to the point where efforts are being called into question by veteran goaltender J.S. Gigeure, the Toronto Maple Leafs are void the luxury of rest as they prepare for their second game in as many nights.

                              The two game road trip to the sunshine state was viewed as a chance to bring the team together and encourage them to reestablish their identity as they attempt to position themselves back into the win column.

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                              >>>DISCUSS IN THE FORUMS

                              After several years of coaching and playing the game, and many more than that spent as a Leaf fan, I have finally got some time to pursue my other passion, writing about the Toronto Maple Leafs. Alec has allowed me the privilege of becoming a regular blogger on this site and I hope to provide an entertaining, passionate read on our favourite subject. Allow me to introduce myself.