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Morning Mashup

Morning Mashup

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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...

803

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,...

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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,...

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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...

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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

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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...

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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...

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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...

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After back-to-back wins against Montreal and Philadephia, the Leafs find themselves off to a good start, record-wise, and will be looking forward to two days of much-needed rest before returning to the ACC for the home-opener on Saturday against the Senators. Goaltending Off to an Excellent Start With the back to back to kick off the season, it didn't take long to get a taste of what life would be like with two really good goaltenders.  On Monday, we saw Reimer's characteristic ability to battle in the crease - something we should already be accustomed do, as that's all the guy...

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Thanks to Gus Katsaros for stopping by with a few thoughts on now-Calgary Flame Joe Colborne... Even if you sensed Joe Colborne's time with the Leafs was dwindling after a less than impressive 2013 training camp, it was a little disappointing to see a former 16th overall draft selection - who many Leafs fans were still holding out hope for, and once considered among the organization's top prospects - jettisoned for a 4th round draft pick. Randy Carlyle perhaps put it best: “The way this thing works is the bus only goes by so many times. And you want to be...

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While Phil Kessel told reporters yesterday that no talks have taken place as of yet, assistant general manager Dave Poulin has hinted at the possibility of something developing in the next few days as it relates to a new contract extension for the noted pugilist. This is welcome news for me. There is something disconcerting about a drawn-out, after-season Kessel negotiation. The longer the Leafs leave this means the greater the likelihood something will go wrong, before next thing you know... there goes the neighbourhood. Knowing Kessel doesn't want to negotiate during the season - we don't know for sure...

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Just before the game last night, the league announced that Phil Kessel was suspended for Tuesday's game and the two remaining preseason games against Detroit this weekend for his extra two-handed slash on John Scott. Scott got away with nary a fine. While he violated the main tenet of the unwritten hockey fighting code, and has no real business sharing an ice surface with Phil Kessel to begin with, he didn't technically break any existing rules. In an effort to punish the other side of the fiasco - the team that, between Tropp goading Devane into a fight he never...

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The preseason edition of the Battle of Ontario kicks-off tonight and there is a considerable amount of buzz surrounding both teams. The Leafs and Sens were both very active over the summer and, depending on who you spoke to, became more competitive through their roster moves and acquisitions.  As it stands, the Senators are sort of a fashionable/dark-horse pick to claim the Atlantic Division title.  Although I wouldn't go as far as to call them a favorite, they do have a talented crop of forwards, one of the top-5 defensemen in the league, and a solid goaltending tandem.  Oh,...

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As training camps opened this week, the last of the RFAs have begun to re-sign with their clubs.  Most notably, Leaf phenom Nazem Kadri signed a two year pact that will pay him $2.9-million per season.  A hundred or so miles down the road, the Buffalo Sabres locked up their star RFA centre Cody Hodgson to a six-year deal at $4.25-million per year. Last season, Kadri had a stellar 44 points in 48 games; Hodgson had a good but not great 34 in 48 games.  For their careers, Kadri has a .636 points per game average (63 points in 99...

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Now, before you bewail another "advanced stats debate," give this latest article by Anthony Petrielli some time of day. He's given us permission to post some lengthier excerpts before you head over to his general hockey blog to read the rest. Intro: Last week, the National Post published a story centered on the Leafs Jay McClement. In it, McClement referenced some of the stats coaching staffs track and utilize. After pointing it out as an interesting tool, I received some replies that suggested it was basically a useless waste of time. I couldn’t disagree more. As someone who coaches hockey, I...

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The Leafs’ rookies took the tournament opener as a result of their energy, skill, and goaltending. They outpaced a Chicago group that was forced to rely more on physicality to gain ground. They caught the Leafs temporarily, but in the end Toronto came away with a win they probably deserved as Morgan Rielly and Tyler Biggs converted in the shootout to secure a 3-2 Leaf victory. A few meaningful observations may be gleaned from the three-game sample after the weekend, but keep in mind that one sloppy game featuring thrown-together lineups is, well, just one sloppy game featuring thrown-together lineups....

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Hockey is officially back! Well, sort of. Today kicks off the Leafs annual rookie tournament, which is really a great opportunity for the kids in the organization to make an impression. It was only two years ago that Jake Gardiner and Matt Frattin both carried the momentum of strong rookie tournaments through training camp and preseason as both at least somewhat unexpectedly made the team to start the season. This September, players such as Petter Granberg, Andrew MacWilliam and even Morgan Rielly will be trying to do the same. On the whole, the Leafs are dressing a rather experienced team...