It's not time to sound the alarm, but the sense of urgency is heightened across Toronto.
The Leafs are still firmly in a playoff spot and, other than Detroit (who has three games in hand on the Leafs, but are also missing Zetterberg and, for the moment, Datsyuk), the 4+ point gap the Leafs have on everyone else is a much tougher hill to climb than it looks because of the “three point era” in the NHL. It's extremely tough to make up ground at this stage of the season in this day and age.
But let's be clear: The Leafs...
After 6 years in the Canucks organization, Mason Raymond arrived at Toronto's camp without a contract, but the promise of an opportunity. He made the most of it, and is now settling - into the lineup and the city.
Thanks again for all the questions. My apologies if I didn't get to yours.
Part 1 can be found here.
wendelsfist: "What one personnel upgrade or change would you make (trade for a role, call up to replace etc)?"
I assume you mean for the playoff race/run and not next season. At least, that's how I'm going to answer the question.
I don't think there are any defensemen worth the Leafs going after at this point, so that kind of upgrade can wait until the offseason. I'd be most interested in acquiring a really good 10th forward. If someone in the Leafs top 9...
Thanks for all the questions. Part 2 will follow a little later on in the day.
@BrianHuddle: "Where does management need to advance this roster to push it from middling playoff team to contender?"
The positions of defense and center still need improvement, but in terms of advancing the roster I think there are two ways to approach this question.
The first is having patience with this roster and developing the pieces in-house. They can improve in theory by staying the course with the Gardiners, Riellys and Hollands of the organization if they really have their hearts set on growing this young talent...
Before the NHL broke for the Olympics, the Toronto Maple Leafs appeared to be playing some of their best hockey of the year at the right time of the season. We'll have to see what happens if and when the top line cools off from the blazing pace it was enjoying when it left off, but the goal production has turned around in a big way in the past 13 games. Leaf sticks have been even hotter in the last 13 games than they were in the opening 14 games back in October.
While every 82-game season features ebbs and flows,...
Did you know that Monday, December 23rd was the 190th anniversary of that famous Christmas poem? Neither did we. But if that isn't a good enough reason to create a parody version celebrating some sort of joyful holiday message that we can take away from the Leafs' horrible play of late, I don't know what is.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM MLHS!
The Plight Before Christmas
T’was the plight before Christmas, when all through the team,
Not a player was scoring – nary a Phil, David, nor #Kadream.
The goalies were hung by their nets, out to dry,
In hopes this “defensive system” wasn’t just some huge...
Unlike a singular rigid structure in the defensive zone, neutral and offensive zone systems fluctuate upon game factors including score, time remaining, and game situation (5v5 or 4v4). They also vary line to line and shift to shift.
Varying conditions make it difficult to really pin down one specific system being applied as a core philosophy, while personnel and opposition systems further muddy the set of variables that need to be addressed. The philosophy holds the entire system together, with other variables contributing to the on-ice decisions.
A primary proponent to score effects, a passive forecheck is desired when defending...
Two of the longer term concerns entering the 2013-14 season for the Toronto Maple Leafs were the contract statuses of their star players Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf. GM Dave Nonis made good on Kessel’s desire to negotiate before the season, and now the Leafs leading scorer will be in the fold until 2022. Having taken care of the time sensitive work, now Nonis’ sights will be set on re-signing the Leafs captain to a long term deal. But what’s it going to cost? Let’s take a look.
For his part, Phaneuf has said he’s open to negotiating a new...
Tonight, David Clarkson will make his debut with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Many in Leafs Nation are excited about the prospect of a power forward like Clarkson entering the lineup. Rightly so: he hits, he fights, he cycles and he can put the puck in the net.
Despite the aforementioned accolades, the most valuable contribution Clarkson will make to this team is simple: his unrelenting desire to win as a Maple Leaf. A longtime fan of his native Ontario team, Clarkson turned down a better offer from the Edmonton Oilers to make Toronto his (likely) final destination in the NHL....
James Mirtle wrote a column on the Leafs' abnormally high shooting percentage yesterday. Given we're at the 10 game mark of the season and the Leafs shooting percentage and save percentage are actually up a significant margin from last season, let's update the numbers for Carlyle's team if we combine this season so far with last season including playoffs. (The Leafs currently lead the league in team shooting percentage at 12.3%, and are fifth in the league in team save percentage with a 0.930).
To summarize, because the table text is pretty tiny: Working with a 65-game sample size now,...
I was perusing Twitter Saturday morning when I came across this gem from @hockeynight:
How strong is the rivalry between the @MapleLeafs and @NHLBlackhawks? You'll see tonight 6:30pm ET. #hockeynight
— HockeyNightInCanada (@hockeynight) October 19, 2013
There are few words in the sports world that are as overused and over-debated as the word “rivalry”. What does it mean? From thefreedictionary.com:
n. pl. ri·val·ries
1. The act of competing or emulating.
2. The state or condition of being a rival.
OK, in that case, every single matchup in sports is considered a rivalry, because every team is in an act of competition with every other team....
It's October and hockey is back. With it comes the unparalleled rush of seeing your team beat the Montreal Canadiens 4-3. Unfortunately, it also comes hand in hand with whistle-happy refs, clueless CBC commentators and a surplus of scraps. With their speed, pugilism and offensive prowess on full display, this looks like it will be another exciting year for the Maple Leafs.
Some notes from this Tuesday night throwdown:
-The Leafs first goal was a result of some interesting movement of both puck and bodies on the powerplay. JVR ended up with the goal on a pass that snuck through Price's...
It's a great day, Leafs Nation. Let's hear your predictions for the season. Here are ours:
Note: Only Ian Dudgeon and Declan Kerin had the Leafs in the playoffs last season, so feel free to skip over everyone else's prediction.
Ian Dudgeon (@Dudgee):
Prediction: 2nd in Atlantic, 3rd in the Eastern Conference.
Sure, call me the optimist. I usually am. Despite a strong undercurrent of gloom and doom voices preaching the impending disaster of a season, I'm seeing the opposite. I see a team that is headed towards its collective prime, with key young players a little older and hopefully a...
First off, can I just say how excited I am about this coming season? Last year, I predicted that the Leafs would be a lottery team. I can only think of a handful of times I was happier to be wrong. In many ways, the 2013 Leafs finally defined the four tenets of Brian Burke’s promise – truculence, pugnacity, belligerence, and testosterone. There are few things more gratifying as a fan than to be able to puff out your chest the day after a win and say, this is my team.
A shortened season may have saved the Toronto Maple...
For the first time in a long time, the Leafs are going into the season with a well-set forward group. The top six is all but guaranteed to be Phil Kessel, Tyler Bozak, Joffrey Lupul, JVR, Nazem Kadri and David Clarkson, comprising a fairly established and proficient group.
The bottom six forwards will feature Dave Bolland, Jay McClement, Nikolai Kulemin, and at least one enforcer for sure. Joe Colborne would probably have to be horrific in camp for him not to make the opening twelve at this point, which really leaves just one spot up for grabs between a host...
The Leafs wrapped up what was a pretty good weekend by imploding in the third period and losing handily, but that doesn’t take away from some of the positives that were shown overall.
There were some youngsters who had good weekends, others who had very good weekends, and a few who struggled. In other news, the Leafs also have a new player coming to training camp in Mason Raymond.
You know hockey is back when there are actual relevant games and players to talk about all of a sudden. Here are some scattered thoughts on the weekend that was:
During my interview with Scott Gordon, the Leafs assistant coach said something that caught my attention when he noted: “This year our top six is guys who have had pretty good track records of scoring goals.”
The injury to Joffrey Lupul for the majority of the shortened season really put the lineup out of whack. As Grabovski played a shutdown role, the Leafs second scoring line was basically MacArthur-Kadri-Frattin for quite some time until Lupul returned and the line turned into Lupul-Kadri-Kulemin, a unit which no doubt did some serious damage.
This summer the Leafs threw big money at...
With training camp a little under 3 weeks away, we thought we'd get things started with the MLHS Season Preview Series. Leading up into training camp, our writers will break-down and provide insight into each position. This week, we'll start the series with a look at the Leafs' goaltending duo of James Reimer and Jonathan Bernier.
Next season's tandem of James Reimer and Jonathan Bernier will be a focal point of discussion and debate. Moreover, the trade for Jonathan Bernier has already driven a wedge between those who a) see Reimer as the Leafs' bonafide number 1 goalie deserving of...
They say don't judge a book by the cover; in the case of The Hockey News, looking at the cover is all we recommend you do. Pretty badass, this one:
Also be sure to check out Jonathan Bernier's all new Leaf gear, including his sticks, pads, and jersey, over at In Goal Magazine. His new mask features an angry blue and white lion: