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2011-12 Season

2011-12 Season

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The season is over, but the postmortem examination is just beginning. I'll open this period of speculation, hope and dissection of our favorite hockey team with a piece that grades our entire roster beginning with forwards and ending with the masked men of TO. Players who played part years like Matt Lashoff were not included because I think most would agree 11 games are not nearly enough to grade him on a seasonal basis, nor is it fair to that particular player. The grading system varies from A+ to D- but there is one exception (guess who?). Everyone likes grades. Well,...

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. "Put a candle in the window, 'cause I feel I've got to move. Though I'm going, going, I'll be coming home soon. Long as I can see the light." - John Fogerty . What was long-anticipated, yet for a momentous spell hung within the balance of miraculous possibility, at last became a reality on Tuesday night as the Maple Leafs were eliminated from playoff contention following an inspiring second-half performance which nearly accomplished a level of achievement rarely seen in sports: a late-season climb from the bottom of the standings to a berth in the post-season. From the doldrums of the league's basement the Leafs arose, challenging...

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You probably don't need the following statistical breakdown to know the answer to the above question. I'll try to keep the anointing oil on the shelf but we haven't had a Leaf rookie step into the lineup and make this type of immediate impact since Felix Potvin. Just as the post-lockout plight of terrible goaltending looked to be continuing to haunt the Leafs, the new year brought new hope; Optimus Reim rolled out, and Leafs Nation has been walking in a Reimer wonderland ever since. Last night I  decided to play with some numbers and simple math in an...

702

Last night's 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers combined with the Buffalo Sabres 4-3 (OT) victory over the Boston Bruins has nearly sunk the fading playoff hopes of the Toronto Maple Leafs.  In fact, the Maple Leafs are almost in need of a miracle to regain any real chance of actually making the big dance.  According to Sports Club Stats the Leafs current chances of making it are now sitting at an all-time low of 2.3%. To make the playoffs the Leafs are going to have to nearly run the table to get to the needed 92 or 93 points. ...

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With another trade deadline behind us, the NHL season truly enters "crunch time" as rosters are set (for the most part) and the push for the Cup gets underway. Most teams, including the Leafs, chose not to ripple any waters on February 28th - save for a few minor deals and an even smaller amount of major transactions. While some media outlets will suggest that the teams surrounding the Leafs in the playoff race added key components while Brian Burke sat on his hands, this simply isn't true. If Toronto fail to make the postseason, it won't be due to the fact...

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in return for prospect Mikhail Stefanovich. Update: Brian Burke tells MLHS Brunnstrom will start with the Marlies - "we'll see how he does." He adds that there's no change in the Standard Player Contract count as Stefanovich was still Leaf property, "but he had time left, Fabian does not." A trade off of term for salary from the sounds of it. The 25-year-old Brunnstrom, who generated a sweepstakes of sorts after a big year for Farjestads, was originally a target of John Ferguson's when he opted for the Dallas Stars as his NHL destination in spring, 2008. A promising if injury...

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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.  Was Brian Burke trying to acquire Wolski? Absolutely... Wojtek Wolski, a former 1st round pick of the Avalanche, is 24 years old, put up 65 points last season and would appear to be the perfect candidate to ride shotgun to Phil Kessel, replacing the Crabb place holder currently occupying that position. His ability to finish...

220

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 past 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 performance  influenced the decision to use him as the de-facto starter, rather than the incumbent? Is Reimer receiving an extended look as part of...

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(Toronto – 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 I’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. I’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. I’ll follow this up on Friday tying in the coaching, the Burke...

303

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.  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...

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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....

262

For the Toronto Maple Leafs and their fans, the last two seasons of hockey have combined for some roller coaster level of emotions.  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.  The trades in January that brought Dion Phaneuf, Keith Aulie, Fredrik...

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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. Take the Calgary-Carolina deal, for example.  Two weeks ago, Flames' defender Marc Giordano was signed to a five year, $20m contract extension. Knowing that the extension would ultimately not allow them to re-sign Ian...

15

On this Remembrance Day, 2010, I'd thought it would be fitting to take a look back at the Toronto Maple Leafs during the years of the Second World War. Having been on the losing side of the Stanley Cup Finals for three consecutive years (Chicago, Boston, New York) to close out the 1930s, the Leafs remained on the verge of becoming a championship team. Unfortunately, pending greatness would instead be put on hold as the roster would be decimated while players answered their country's call to duty in the early 1940s. The following is a quick synopsis of the Maple Leafs'...

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I recall our old colour commentator Harry Neale being asked what he thought made a great coach and he shrewdly remarked “great players”.  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 “Why Ron Wilson Should Get Fired ASAP” asking a tough question and answering unequivocally: “The question isn't whether Ron Wilson is or isn't a good coach. The question is will replacing Ron Wilson improve...

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Paul Hunter of the Toronto Star reports that the job of  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: “I’m told (Wilson) got blasted in the media today. Let me ask you a question. Did Ron play poorly last night? No. Why don’t you guys focus...

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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 hand. Dreger adds that the team is expected to call up Luca Caputi from the Marlies to replace Armstrong on the third line, but Colby's absence will leave a void in terms of physicality and strong board play. Caputi has recorded just 2 goals and 1 assist through 6 games played for the Marlies, but showed improved skating ability and poise playing against NHL players this preaseason. Prior to the start of the season, Burke...

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Week two of the 2010-2011 Toronto Maple Leafs schedule is in the books, and once again it was a week in which the Toronto Maple Leafs managed to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins and the New York Rangers, both tough road wins in which the Leafs showed strong character. With that in mind, here is week two of the Maple Leafs Player Power Rankings.  The rankings will read the players ranking, their stats, as well as their last week's position.  Spoiler alert: There's a new number one! 1. Clarke MacArthur: 5G, 1A (Previous ranking: 3) Picking between which two players should occupy the...

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Okay, so it took a while to get to the post game wrap up 'round here. What can I tell you, I was waylaid by ecstasy (NOT the pharmaceutical kind); and that sort of joy has been in kind of short supply for Leaf fans since the lockout. Aside from the 4-3 Leaf OT Victory, I was enjoying (via the wonders of the PVR) the Ticats' triumphant 30-3 curbstomping of the Argonauts to formally clinch a playoff berth. I can tell you from personal experience as a Leafs fan for more than 35 years and a Ticats fan since the days of Jason Maas, there haven't been a lot of nights like that in recent days. Good times. Here's how the Leafs game went as I saw it (note: this is an impressionist recap, not an excursion into hyper-reality. If you want that, wait for James Cameron's next 3-D extravaganza):

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Nick Kypreos has tweeted this little gem today: #Leafs put Jeff Finger on #NHL waivers today. This finally puts an end to the long period of speculation over the future of Jeff Finger. When he clears tomorrow, it will be interesting to see where he ends up playing. Renegotiating with another NHL team or even playing in Europe would perhaps be more entertaining to Finger but wouldn't be the wise financial move as he'd have to opt out of his current contract by not reporting to the Marlies. While Wilson has been adamant that a return to the NHL this season isn't...