Phoenix moved Wojtek Wolski today to the New York Rangers for Michal Rozsival. Wolski represents the prototypical power forward/winger that Brian Burke has insisted that he may be after in leu of a legitimate front line center most are reporting the Leafs most desperately require. Â Was Brian Burke trying to acquire Wolski? Absolutely...
It should come as no surprise that James Reimer received an opportunity to start in the NHL, during his re-call to fill in for the injured Jean-Sebastien Giguere. What is somewhat of a surprise is the amount Reimer has played (3 starts in the pastÂ 4 games) during a time where Jonas Gustavsson was expected to seize the opportunity to prove himself the Maple Leafs' netminder of the future.
The question is, to what degree has Reimer's performanceÂ influenced the decision to use him as the de-facto starter, rather than the incumbent? Is Reimer receiving an extended look as part of an evaluation toward his future in Toronto -- or are the Leafs showcasing him to other teams?
Update: Reimer gets the start tonight ... his fourth in the past five games.
On an unfortunate Saturday night off of Leafs hockey, the February 28 Trade Deadline enters my mind as I ponder how Brian Burke will fast-track Toronto to the playoffs.
He has once again cemented his stance to acquire players that will help the team immediately. His reluctance to stockpile draft picks might be concerning, but just how far are the Leafs from post-season berth? Well, any critic can point to numerous issues that have plagued the team's chances, most notably the scoring woes and special teams, but the most pressing need has to be a first-line center to feed Phil Kessel the puck (not to mention to add some size to the top-six unit).
(Toronto â€“ Gus Katsaros) I tried to put together something that leads to the state of the Leafs, but it gets pretty intense and too much for a single blog so Iâ€™ve broken it down in two. Before we move forward we should acknowledge what is happening with the current club and I do that with just some observations.
Iâ€™ve broken down what I feel are some of the more important points of the Leafs forwards and defensemen while not being entirely thorough, leaving something for future blogs. Iâ€™ll follow this up on Friday tying in the coaching, the Burke regime and vision of the team in the future.
It can be safely said that Saturday night's tilt between the Boston Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs will go down as one of the best hockey games of the year. Â It had a little bit of everything; bone crunching hits, jaw jarring fights, ridiculous saves, last minute heroics, and a shootout victory that included a killer backhand, and a former Bruin getting at least some measure of revenge.
With all that action in mind, it is somewhat ironic that the player who stood out the most in my mind was someone who didn't even get his name on the scoresheet.
Colby Armstrong returned from injury and joined the Leafs top line, paying immediate dividends in the Leafs 3-2 shootout victory at home on Hockey Night In Canada this past Saturday. Â Armstrong had missed time with an injured hand. [more…]
Goal difference vs. Points - A simple statistical analysis
by MLHS' Great Dane (written before the weekend games)
There has been some talk on the site lately as to whether or not the playoffs remain in reach for the Maple Leafs despite a less than mediocre record a quarter of the way through the season, a subject Derek Harmsworth broached in his blog "At the Quarter Pole, Leafs Improved, But Is It Enough?" Statistically speaking, is 20, 21 or 24 points at the quarter pole enough to make the playoffs?
What follows is a small regression analysis of goal difference vs. points based on the records of the 30 teams in the NHL before American Thanksgiving. [more…]
For the Toronto Maple Leafs and their fans, the last two seasons of hockey have combined for some roller coaster level of emotions. Â There was the bringing in of Brian Burke, the general manager with the pedigree to lead this team back to respectability, and back to the playoffs, with ultimately the goal of ending the Stanley Cup drought.
Then the hope was awash when the Leafs started the year off with a thud, winless in their first seven games, a stretch that they never did quite recover from. Â The trades in January that brought Dion Phaneuf, Keith Aulie, Fredrik Sjostrom, and J.S. Giguere to the organization brought about a new sense of optimism for the long suffering fans in Leafs Nation.
And when the Toronto Maple Leafs kicked off the 2010-2011 NHL campaign with four straight wins, the optimism levels couldn't have been higher. Â After a lengthy losing streak, the team is back to playing more consistently, and with complete confidence you can declare that the Toronto Maple Leafs of 2010-2011 are an improved club.
Just how much they have improved, and whether it will be enough for them to break the postseason drought this April, is another question altogether. [more…]
For as much as Brian Burke continues to show the fanbase that no stone will go unturned in his quest to rebuild the franchise, the fact of the matter is, the consummation of a trade is extraordinarily difficult in a salary-capped league where parity reigns. Especially this early into the season, at a point where many teams are still in the process of determining their needs.
I recall our old colour commentator Harry Neale being asked what he thought made a great coach and he shrewdly remarked â€œgreat playersâ€.Â Now I know the topic of firing Ron Wilson has been beat to death but I wanted to further comment after reading a story from our friends over at Pension Plan Puppets who feel he should absolutely be fired now.
It was an entertaining piece â€œWhy Ron Wilson Should Get Fired ASAPâ€Â asking a tough question and answering unequivocally:
â€œThe question isn't whether Ron Wilson is or isn't a good coach. The question is will replacing Ron Wilson improve our record? If the answer is "yes", obviously, we should do it as soon as possible. But how can we know?Â This got me to thinking, maybe there's some historical evidence to shed some light on this issue.â€ [more…]
Paul Hunter of the Toronto Star reports that the job ofÂ Ron Wilson remains safe for the moment as the Head Coach received yet another vote of confidence from GM Brian Burke. Wilson has drawn the ire of Leafs Nation on a number of occasions over the past couple seasons every time the team has gone into any sort of prolonged struggle, but Burke remained steadfast in his support for his friend:
â€œIâ€™m told (Wilson) got blasted in the media today. Let me ask you a question. Did Ron play poorly last night? No. Why donâ€™t you guys focus on the players who played poorly last night instead of questioning the coach? Itâ€™s a very bizarre twist to this market place that when players play poorly, the coach gets hollered at. This is new for me. In Vancouver when the players played poorly, the players got blasted so Iâ€™m perplexed by this.â€
So in Vancouver... the fans are tougher on the players than the coach... Interesting. On a completely unrelated note, here's what Burke had to say about the fans booing Dion Phaneuf:
"All the time I worked in Vancouver I donâ€™t think I ever had a player booed."
Well, I'm stumped. Anyways...
By laying the blame primarily on the team's on-ice product, it's patently clear that Burke is itching to make a move to upgrade his roster. With both "cap room and budget room" created by the Finger demotion, the club is listening in intently on any possible trade talks around the league. There were rumors swirling a few weeks ago regarding a smaller depth move to pick up a bottom six forward with some size or jam ala Blake Wheeler or David Clarkson, but club's #1 priority remains the search for a bonafide top line pivot to complement Kessel. [more…]
Let's get right to it with some thoughts on the game:
- Although most of my hair was pulled out in frustration, the Leafs displayed a lot of heart tonight and they deserve credit.Â It's hard to remember the last time the Leafs came back from a two-goal deficit in the third period, but it'sÂ encouraging they managed without captain Dion Phaneuf.
According to Nick Kypreos, the Maple Leafs could be without winger Colby Armstrong for four to six weeks as he may need surgery on his [more…]