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Analysis

Analysis

In-depth analysis of the Toronto Maple Leafs from the Leading Leafs-centric website.

73

A dozen thoughts, observations, or interesting stats for your Wednesday night: 1) Can Armstrong catch a break in Toronto? He played 79 and 82 game seasons in Atlanta in the two seasons prior to signing on with the Leafs, and had never missed more than 10 games in a season since entering the league. Since arriving in T.O., Armstrong has played in only 59 of 115 games as a Leaf. Armstrong had only put up one point this season, never really having a chance to mesh into the flow of things. His near .5 point-per-game rate in 50 games last season...

433

Somewhere in one of my post Boston Game In 10s I advocated changes to the lineup. A bigger forward on the top line to improve our offensive zone cycles and puck retrieval and have also criticized Wilson for not having a good transition game which partially stemmed from our back end and the inability to make that first pass out of the defensive zone. Well, I don’t know if you can say that Burke’s original plan wasn’t/isn’t to bring in a top line forward with size, especially since that’s what the organization and numerous panelists slated as our No1 need...

885

Phil Kessel is tired of losing, that much is clear. In layman's terms, there are two types of hockey players: Those who love to win and those who hate to lose. It took Kessel some time, but he's become the second one. Justin Bourne, who now runs The Score's blog "Backhand Shelf," discussed this concept last season over at Puck Daddy (view here). In it he says, "Here's the difference: It's like putting a cupcake between a chubby kid from a mansion on the hill, and some wiry starving kid from the streets. They both want the cupcake. But our portly friend...

241

We're now 18 games into the 2011-12 season. Though the Leafs have hit a bit of a rough patch in the last few weeks, there is much to be optimistic about with regards to playoff hopes. Kessel has emerged as a new player, Lupul is back to old form and though not scoring as much as last year, Grabovski and MacArthur have played well. The oft injured Connolly has been excellent in limited action so far. However, there will be several nights this season where the top six forwards don't produce. On those nights, a good complimentary package in...

651

How do we accurately evaluate this team? Just how good are we? If you’re looking for me (or anyone else for that matter) to answer those questions right now you’re setting yourself up for a pretty big disappointment. In light of recent events, pretty much any scenario is possible. What if we’re missing Reimer until February? How will the duo of Scrivens and, to a lesser degree, Gustavsson perform? Will Tim Connolly ever stay healthy for a considerable number of games? Is our record so far sustainable through 82 games? I can’t answer that right now, nobody can. There's too many...

199

These might not be the same old Leafs, but it is looking like the same old Leaf penalty kill. At this stage of the season, I maintain a couple of things as I write this: it's still very, very early, and the Leafs are adjusting to a new penalty killing scheme which is bound to cause mix-ups and missed assignments early in the season. So I don't think this penalty kill is completely doomed, but I do think there is a lot of work to be done. First let's look at penalty killing in it's most basic form. At the youngest...

James Reimer

424

Jonas Gustavsson Scouting Reports & James Reimer Scouting Reports from Justin Goldman of The Goalie Guild from his book: NHL Goaltender’s Style Guide, available now for only $9.99

208

Last night, only two days before the Leafs' season opener against the Montreal Canadiens, Brian Burke added Dave Steckel to the roster in exchange for a fourth round pick in 2012. Although drafted in the first round, no one would mistake the 29 year old Steckel for an offensive forward. He's kept himself in the league through his defensive play, made significantly easier by his big size, despite his inclination to not use said size. So tonight, one night before the regular season begins, we're going to take a peek at Steckel's defensive stats and see how he measures...

208

Toronto Maple Leafs training camp opens today, with an enormous player base of 70 invitees. Some are guaranteed spots, some are looking to secure one. All of them want to make a positive impression. Here are some thoughts on the camp outlook. At forward, Tim Connolly, Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul, Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolai Kulemin, Clarke MacArthur and Colby Armstrong are guaranteed spots on the roster. For Lupul, training camp and the preseason this year is an opportunity to show coach Ron Wilson that he has what it takes to be a first line forward. If he fails in doing that,...

90

The rivalries remain, but the faces change.  For all the substantial additions that the Leafs have made, the 29 other teams in the league have not been idle.  Though its anyone’s game any given night, it’s the contemplative, patient process of adding the right pieces during the summer that allow continued success over the marathon half year regular season.  Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be looking at all 6 divisions in the NHL team by team, how the Leafs compared to them last season, their improvements, additions, subtractions and the Leafs outlook against these revamped teams come...

Dave Poulin and Brian Burke

214

Prior to speaking with Rick Dudley for the Maple Leafs Annual, I also had the opportunity to speak with Dave Poulin, Vice-President of Hockey Operations for the Toronto Maple Leafs.  Having contributed an interview for last year's edition of the Annual, Mr. Poulin graciously agreed to accommodate our request again this year. Follow the jump for a few excerpts of our chat. As was the case with prior excerpts, the following quotes are excerpted from a larger interview and thus the flow of the questions may seem a bit off.  The full interview will appear in the Maple Leafs Annual, due...

550

Defence is a lot more multi-faceted than is the forward position. It requires more finesse and more all around ability in order to rise to the upper echelon of NHL defencemen. The Leafs tried to compliment each of their offensive defencemen with a more defensive partner. This is a winning strategy often used on championship teams. With that in mind, of the six regulars on Toronto's blue line at the end of the season, who rises to the top? Let's find out. The previous articles in this series are recommended reading. You can find "Season in Review: Top 6 Forwards"...

146

After an impressive run of games to close out the season, it's hard not to get giddy and optimistic about the Maple Leafs' chances this fall. The biggest difference in the last thirty or so games of the year compared to recent Leaf teams has been the long-awaited installment of a reliable goaltender who gives you a chance to win every night. James Reimer gave this team that every night and more. Although he was hands down an inspiration between the pipes during that stretch, it may be wise to temper our expectations of the sophomore netminder heading into...

101

Leafs Nation was parked outside Brad Richards' agents' office on July 1st, singing songs they hoped would sway him to our little corner of the universe. It was not to be, along came Tim Connolly, the Leafs' silver medal. He has been notorious in his time in Buffalo for injuries that leave him absent from the team for large chunks at a time. At only 2 years, is Connolly a gamble worth making for the Leafs? Time to find out. Here are the top 9 offensive contributors at forward for Buffalo in 2010-11: Name Games Played Goals Assists Points T. Vanek 80 32 41 73 D. Stafford 62 31 21 52 J. Pominville 73 22 30 52 T. Ennis 82 20 29 49 T. Connolly 68 13 29 42 D. Roy 35 10 25 35 N....

916

Please read the preceding article in this series on top 6 forwards here. For this article, the bottom 6 forwards on the Leafs are: Colby Armstrong, Joey Crabb, John Mitchell, Darryl Boyce, Fredrik Sjostrom, Tim Brent, Mike Brown, Jay Rosehill and Colton Orr. I decided to leave Kadri out of my forward reviews due to his few games played in conjunction with his rapid change from top 6 to bottom 6 from game to game. When all is said and done, the bottom 6 forwards on Toronto in the 2010-11 season dropped the ball in a big way. This...

270

All of Leafs Nation was elated to finally have a first round pick in what seemed like forever on draft day this year. However, there was still another surprise only hours before the draft began. John-Michael Liles was brought in by Leafs general manager Brian Burke for a second round pick in order to fill the hole left behind by the departed Tomas Kaberle. Is that a reasonable expectation? Let's find out. Here are the offensive stats for Colorado's defense (with at least 20 games played): Name Games Played Goals Assists Points J.M. Liles 76 6 40 46 K. Shattenkirk 72 (46)* 9 (7) 34 (19) 43 (26) E. Johnson 77 (22) 8 (3) 21 (7) 29 (10) R. Wilson 67 3 13 16 M. Hunwick 73...

295

The excitement never ends, does it? Days after the Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup, the NHL Awards capped off the season with a somewhat surprising (albeit well-deserved)  Hart Trophy nod to Corey Perry. A day later, the Philadelphia Flyers rocked the hockey world with two major trades ... with reports suggesting the Leafs were nearly a trading partner in both. As if that hasn't been enough, trade and free agency rumours continue to run rampant. The Leafs have several of their own player re-signings still on the horizon, and somewhere in all that a draft is about to take...

715

The Flyers have decided to make a move amidst a controversial ruling in the Stanley Cup Final. Perhaps the hit by Aaron Rome on Nathan Horton, and the subsequent 8-1 drubbing dealt out by the Bruins will be enough to keep the media focus on Vancouver and Boston. There should be no mistaking though, that something significant is going on in Philadelphia right now. Last night word broke that General Manager Paul Holmgren has acquired the exclusive negotiating rights to Ilya Bryzgalov in exchange for a 3rd round selection in the 2012 entry draft, and a conditional...

279

(Part 1) (Part 2) Now for the (not-so) thrilling conclusion to my blog series on the Leafs trade targets on the back end.  The following are (in my opinion), the top two options Burke will pursue over the coming months if indeed he does go the trade route: 2.) Brent Burns - Dion Phaneuf’s stalwart partner at the World Championship has played with the captain before.  That’s the same kind of sentiment we heard from free agents Clarke MacArthur and Colby Armstrong shortly after they were acquired.  It seems there is a spot...

123

In part one of this blog we looked at possible unrestricted free agent options for the Leafs. Burke has always been proficient at landing a big name on July 1st, but he also has a reputation for loving a good old fashioned hockey trade. Since the lock-out, Burke has completed major transactions that brought in the likes of Francois Beauchemin, Chris Pronger, Doug Weight, Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf, J.S. Giguere and Joffrey Lupul. Going further back, he pulled off massive draft day swaps that brought his clubs Henrik and Daniel Sedin, as well as Chris...