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Morning Mashup

719

Tyler Bozak is Toronto's first line center.  For now and the foreseeable future, Bozak has a stranglehold on a very enviable position between James Van Riemsdyk and Phil Kessel.  While Bozak has occupied a similar spot in the past, Nazem Kadri's emergence last season and Bozak's own untimely injuries had set the stage for a tantalizing possibility - the seemingly natural progression of Toronto's most talented center (Kadri) into a role on the first line. Unfortunately, it didn't work out quite like we envisioned.  When both Bozak and Bolland were out of the lineup, Randy Carlyle's hand was forced.  He...

141

Back to work for the Leafs tonight, as they will hit the half way point of the season against Buffalo and Carolina this weekend (Friday/Sunday, with a rare Saturday off) before heading to the Big House for the Winter Classic on New Years Day. By virtue of the collective ass beating the Eastern Conference has been handed at the hands of the stronger West, an 86-point pace somehow has the Leafs clinging to a spot on the right side of playoff cutoff mark. Many of the inter Conference matchups are behind us now and the points pace must pick up...

873

Team Canada has effectively named their roster for the World Junior Championships to take place in Malmo Sweden starting on Boxing Day.  Having had a little bit of time to digest their decisions from a Leafs perspective, here are some of my thoughts. No Matt Finn The biggest surprise on Team Canada's roster from a Leafs perspective is Matt Finn's omission.  Finn is an all-situations defenseman whose biggest weakness in his game is probably his physicality -- an element which is considerably less important on International ice.  I'm surprised he didn't make the team (almost as surprised as I was when I heard Nurse...

111

The Leafs pulled out a win in the shootout Saturday over Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals to move to 14-8-1 on the season, good enough for second place in the Atlantic division. Sitting three points back of the Boston Bruins and in a tie with Tampa (Leafs ahead on goal differential tie-breaker), this week is an important one for the Leafs as they approach a real tough stretch of games in early December. This week sees Columbus in town Monday, Wednesday at Pittsburgh, and closing with a back-to-back in Buffalo and Montreal, Friday and Saturday respectively. Pulling points out...

907

With last night's loss against Nashville, Randy Carlyle's stint behind Toronto's bench has spanned more than a season's worth of games. Recently, there has been much discussion surrounding this team's identity.  Clearly, the current Maple Leafs are  one of the best quick-attack squads in the league.  They have a collection of highly skilled players, good special teams, and the support of some fantastic goaltending.  Yet naysayers are prevalent in the Toronto hockey scene.  Their criticism has often focused on the supposedly debilitating shot differential that has characterized this iteration of the Leafs.  This is a team that has seen...

615

The Leafs dropped their sixth game of the season against the Bruins on Saturday night, but the optimistic take is that maybe a lineup weak down the middle can still raise their game to compete with the better teams. A solid second period is something the coaching staff and players will no doubt look to as something to build on tomorrow against Minnesota. The Wild are 10-4-4 and, as it stands, have the most points of any opponent Leafs will face until the end of November. Here's the break down of the next 10 games: That's really weak. The total record...

527

The Leafs will return to the ice after what has seemed like an eternity.  The JVR-at-center experiment will make its debut against the Devils tonight while Smithson and Fraser will draw into the lineup.  The former is a move of necessity while the latter are indications of Carlyle reinforcing his desired style of game. The theme of the week for the Leafs and their coaching staff?  Getting back to the disciplined, hard working game that defined this team's unprecedented success a year ago.  Yes, the Leafs are off to a great start.  This has been in large part due to...

985

Good evening! Prepare for a long week of distraction as the Leafs are off until Friday's tilt with the New Jersey Devils. With Bolland going down on Saturday the team's strength at centre is about as weak as you could imagine. Not too many people count themselves as big Bozak fans, but with him and Bolland both out, there is a gaping hole down the middle. It's all but guaranteed this week will bring a deluge of trade speculation, and maybe even a trade to bolster the position. While the Leafs' record is still pretty good, it's difficult to...

1104

.937 - Leafs team save percentage over all situations. 1 - Number of teams to ever break .930 over a full season: the Boston Bruins in 2010-11 with exactly .930. Obviously, overall save percentage has been steadily climbing in recent seasons. 32 - Total goals against through 14 games (2.29 GA/G). 43 - Total goals against if the Leafs team save percentage was .915 - a mark still good enough for 10th overall in the league (all situations). A drop from 3rd to 10th in team save percentage would take the Leafs from 6th to 23rd in goals against per game. 47 -...

927

It used to be one would say the Leafs are becoming accustomed to skating on tilted ice as the start of a joke at their expense. But a month into the season, it's beginning to appear as though the joke is on the jester. Despite being outshot for the 11th straight game - and 12th out of 14 - the team improved to 10-4-0 (and 5-2-0 on the road), claiming sole possession of first place in the East and tied for 2nd overall in the league.  Once again, timely shooting and stellar goaltending were the recipe for success. The question,...

204

Good morning Leafs fans, another week is upon us and it sees the Blue & White heading west to take on Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver. Bozak has been placed on the Injured Reserve, which - regardless of what you think about the de-facto first line centre - is a blow to this Leafs team. I would expect Kadri to continue to fill in at his position for the time being, but I'm also hoping that a little more ice time combined with a higher quality set of linemates leads Kadri to get in a bit of a groove. Kadri...

809

Leafs Nation woke up this Sunday morning with the Leafs in first place in the Eastern Conference standings after a redeeming effort against the Pittsburgh Penguins last night on Hockey Night in Canada. For a few hours, anyway - Tampa Bay could take over the Conference lead with a win today over Florida. A certain level of production will be expected of David Clarkson given his pay stubs, but his ability to impact a game without showing up on the scoresheet was on full display last night. The Davids of Mimico led Leaf forwards in ice time with 21-22 minutes,...

775

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,...

1391

One of my favourite parts about a new season is the sheer volume of roster changes.  The Toronto Maple Leafs alone saw 10 players leave the fold from May till October, and have already had 9 players make their Leaf debuts.  So let’s catch up with some of the site’s old friends-turned enemies and see what some of last season’s jettison has been up to in the 2013-14 season. Leo Komarov While only playing a mere 42 games in Toronto, Leo Komarov made a lasting impact on opposing players rib cages.  Komarov has returned to Dynamo Moscow of the KHL and...

203

The Leafs are officially in the midst of their first losing "streak" of the season. Tuesday's contest sees the 7-1 Anaheim Ducks visit town, which will be another difficult test for a Leafs team who have yet to really hit their stride despite being 6-3 on the season. The Ducks shellacked the Stars 6-3 last night, and Getzlaf, Perry, Jakub Silfverberg, Selanne and Mathieu Perreault, who is getting a chance to center their second line, are all off to hot starts. While the hope will be that the return of Kulemin and Clarkson from injury and suspension will help the...

193

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: ri·val·ry  (rvl-r) 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....

Nazem Kadri

61

Good morning to all those Leafs fans coming out of their food coma if Thanksgiving dinner was yesterday. To those who are having one today, enjoy! The banged up Leafs squad entertain the Minnesota Wild tomorrow night, but each game that passes brings the team closer to full health. Thanks to some great goaltending from Bernier (I'll overlook the Edmonton game), they've managed a 5-1 record so far. If they can get some bodies back and keep playing well, the team has set themselves up nicely through the first month. As per @HennyTweets on twitter, JVR is not skating at practice...

1174

Editor's Note: Please welcome Tim Bayer to the MLHS writing staff. Tim contributes at Editor in Leaf and can be followed on Twitter @tj_bayer. He'll be contributing some Sunday mashups for us here at MLHS. Thanksgiving is one of my favourite holidays. How many days during the year are you encouraged to eat food, watch sports and hang out with family and friends all day? As the weather is starting to cool down (although it’s been absolutely beautiful here in Southern Ontario this weekend), the NHL season is just warming up, and Thanksgiving is even more enjoyable when the Leafs...

231

Cody Franson has been a lot of things to the Toronto Maple Leafs.  He’s seen more of the pressbox than the entire MLHS writing staff combined.  He’s been top 10 in defensemen scoring.  He’s twice held out on contract demands, only to sign below market value.  But last season saw him change from bench warmer to playoff warrior; and through the first four games of the 2013-14 season he’s looked ready for more. Already in this young season, Franson’s importance to the Leafs defense hasn’t gone unnoticed.  While the sample size is small, Franson is receiving 23:53 in ice time...

1611

No, winning the first two games of the season does not make the Leafs contenders for the Stanley Cup.  You would think that goes without saying.  Yet apparently the ever-astute media is under the impression that Leafs fans have been overcome with cup delusions, as they have already felt the need to trot out journalistic diarrhea to talk us down from our delirium. But, we crazy Toronto fans are fairly certain that we have a young, developing team with many high-end pieces that suggest the franchise will continue on their upward trajectory in the near future. The Core With the recent...