On a night where the real buzz was focused on mounting trade talk, the Leafs tied a NHL record for consecutive overtime games.Â Vesa Toskala played an exceptional game in net, and the Leafs came alive in the third period to transform an otherwise dull game into an exciting back-and-forth goaltender's battle. After an almost full five minutes of riveting overtime play, Toronto eventually succumbed to an Oduya winner.
In a shaky and at times sloppy game, the Leafs pulled out of yet another overtime with a shootout win.Â Vesa Toskala had a night in net that was a simple summary of his season to date: solid at times, with glaring weaknesses and questionable play marring his effort as a whole.Â Nonetheless, in a tilt that saw another Leaf rookie debut and a season stalwart leave the game with an injury, Toronto ironically secured two points against one of the very teams that many "tank-minded" fans badly want to see move up in the standings.
On a night where we can say the "Sundin Saga" came to its exciting and fitting end, the Leafs played a second straight game where they showed the hard work and energy that was so characteristic of their early-season stretch of hockey. Upon the shootout conclusion of this game, I received three different messages all musing over the same thing: "Whoever scripted this game did it perfectly."Â In the steady, reliable fashion that Leaf fans became accustomed to over thirteen years of service, Mats Sundin skated down the ice and with apparent effortlessness netted the shootout winner for his team.Â Except this time, he was doing it for the Vancouver Canucks.
A rather solid home game by the Leafs saw them come out on the short side of the stick in extra time (yet again), but a fair share of positives came out of tonight's matchup.Â Justin Pogge played a very solid game in net for the Blue and White, and really needs to continue seeing time like this for anyone to get a fair idea of how he will perform in the NHL.Â Moreover, most of the Leafs were buzzing all night long, and this game really could have gone either way.
For all the hype surrounding the seemingly inevitable fight between Grabovksi and Kostitsyn, the two Belorussians were not quite at the forefront of a very chippy game between the Leafs and the Canadiens.Â The animosity apparently encompassed both squads, as the tone was set early by a first period showdown between Georges Laraque and Brad May.Â As is the case with most matchups of these two rivals in Montreal, the crowd's energy fed into a quick-paced sixty minutes that saw both teams control the play in the offensive zone for lengths of time on end.
"Oh well, screw it.Â It's time to go on to the next one."
Rinse and repeat Justin, as these words left the Toronto tender's mouth after getting shelled for six goals in a loss to the Minnesota Wild last week.Â One would hazard a guess that the young goalie will need some more of this good humour after seeing a similar fate tonight.Â Likely exhausted from the extensive bus ride to Buffalo, the Maple Leafs as a team did very little to support their rookie netminder.
I'm sure you are all aware by now that the fan voting for the All-Star game has begun over at the official website of the NHL. As such, I'm also sure that you've seen the landslide-lead that six Canadiens players have over their competitors that go by names such as "Ovechkin" and "Crosby". If you are at all an earnest fan of the NHL as a whole, you've come to realize how flawed their voting system is for this glorified game of shinny. Regardless of the decreasing importance and excitement of the game, we have seen incidents like the Fitzpatrick-campaign of a few years ago make a laughingstock of the online balloting system. This year gives rise to a new fiasco as all six Canadiens players that were placed on the ballot have taken a runaway lead and do not appear to be in any trouble of relinquishing it. [more…]
Mark Bell's career in Toronto seems to be all but over. The 28-year old from Ontario joined the Leafs along with Vesa Toskala at last year's draft shrouded under the cloud of an impending DUI sentence. With that cleared up this past summer, many Leaf fans hoped for a revival of the Mark Bell that scored 25 goals in Chicago during the 2005-2006 season. However, it was quite evident that Bell never managed to put it together in training camp or in the exhibition games that the Leafs played. [more…]
I would like to begin by thanking Alec for the opportunity he has created here at MLHS. I not only refer to his gracious offer to join his team of bloggers, but to the wider notion of a site where fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs and of hockey as a whole can come together to engage in passionate hockey debate. Some of you will know me as TMLShab from HockeyBuzz, the chat boards at MapleLeafs.com and countless other hockey sites. [more…]