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Morning Mashup

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861

Joffrey Lupul returns to the Leaf lineup at a time when they could sure use a boost. It's not official that he'll play tonight, but the indication from the player himself is that he will be making his reappearance against the Winnipeg Jets after 25 games missed due to the broken forearm, and indications from practice yesterday are that he might start off on a line with Nazem Kadri and Nikolai Kulemin. One imagines, after some time to shake off the rust, he'll make his way back up to the top line opposite Kessel. For tonight, I'm curious to...

Jay McClement

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Here’s five Leaf thoughts to get you through your Friday, with five links at the bottom. Steckel and McClement Faceoff Woes I was taking a look at the faceoff numbers, and I noticed some altogether startling numbers from Steckel and McClement.  Both were once kings of the faceoff circle, with McClement averaging 51.6% of his 1152 draws in 2010-2011 and 51.3% of his 873 draws in 2011-2012, whereas Steckel won 62.3% of his 820 draws in 2010-2011, and 58.0% of his 1108 draws in 2011-2012. This season, McClement has won only 45.3% of his 139 draws, while Steckel has only won 46.9%...

741

Before we get to this morning's thoughts and links, I just wanted to thank everyone for the feedback and well wishes. I've been a reader of MLHS since late 2009 and it truly is an honor to write for this awesome blog community. First things first, here's the tweet we've all seen by now from Ben Hankinson, Jake Gardiner's agent from Octagon Sports Management, who sent this out as the Leafs were losing to the Winnipeg Jets: Many thought the tweet was out of line and ill-advised, especially given the agent's radio silence afterward, leaving Jake Gardiner to answer to a...

1251

The Toronto Maple Leafs are sitting in fifth place in the Eastern Conference (fourth in the Eastern Conference in wins) and some folks, even Leaf fans who write about the game, are simply writing it of as nothing other than luck. Puck luck. Good goaltending. Streaky scorers. Bad coaching is even bandied around as one of the reasons they’re bad - but not showing it yet - this season. The truth is that the Leafs are playing right about where they should have been last year—offensively—but with a system that allows them to hold leads, shut down teams when they need to, kill...

Corey Perry

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With just over three weeks to go until the trade deadline, I feel as if I can get away with a rosterbation post without too much scrutiny. I’ll do my best to not go full HFBoards with my ideas, but certainly have a few players in mind that I’d like for the Leafs to target, and a few that I’d like Nonis to jettison. While I’m sure this won’t be the most intelligent post you’ll read this morning, hopefully it will at least spark some Monday morning conversation. Three I’d like to see the Leafs target Jay Bouwmeester of the Flames....

Tyler Bozak

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I took in what felt like a one-point win last night at the ACC. I of little faith was thinking “blow out” after the bang-bang goals in the first, but there seems to be something different about this team (visible in the Bruins game as well). They didn’t slip silently into the night, and by the end of it you had the feeling Crosby, Malkin and co. snuck away, or limped away, with the extra point. I’ll ignore the awful first period from the Leafs - and how deeply underwater the first line was in its head to head with...

906

With the first half of the season in the books, the Toronto Maple Leafs sit firmly entrenched in fifth place in the East with an impressive record of 15 – 10 – 0.  So who should we thank for the great successes so far at the midway mark? Top Forward: In the least interesting reveal of the article, Nazem Kadri wins this first Middy™ by a wide margin.  He took the team lead in points in the third game of the season and hasn’t looked back, having tallied 11 goals and 14 assists for 25 points in 25 games.  His arrival...

884

Last night's 5-4 nail-biting win over the Sens further fanned the fires of the current "debate" on the role of fighting in the Leafs' mid-season success. In case you haven't seen it already, here's the video of the KO McLaren delivered on Dziurzynski.  It seems like McLaren only grazes him but given the speed at which these guys are throwing down, what's a chin to a flying fist (or sheet of ice). Kessel also came out with his second 3-point night of the season and generally looked to have given a 200 ft. effort, along with 5 SOG. Nazem Kadri meanwhile continues...

982

For reasons beyond my comprehension, the two-year contract extension handed out to 25-year-old Korbinian Holzer yesterday generated reactions beyond "oh, alright" on Twitter. Unless you're predisposed to criticizing minor decisions with little downside, what is there to hate? Worst case: The Leafs have signed a relatively young, homegrown depth defenceman for a deal below the 900k salary required for a one-way contract to count against the salary cap if the player is in the minors. Yes, he takes up a SPC slot, but you need cheap depth options in your organization. The best case is that Holzer, he of 18 games, develops...

815

No games for three days makes for very little in Maple Leafs land development. There’s Komisarek’s laughable trade request, there’s Frattin’s potential return to the lineup this week, and there’s still the question of why isn’t Gardiner on the Maple Leafs, but for the most part all of it is nothing more than a waiting game. Instead, I’m going to look at the most basic of stats (goals and assists) and how the first line forwards are doing in those categories. The Numbers 38% - That’s the percentage of game winning goals scored by the first line this season. Kessel...

2700

I hope everyone will be taking the opportunity to do something with their families, spouses or significant others on this unfortunately vacant Saturday night. Just a few thoughts on the Leafs' recent performance before we get into some links. I worry the win over the New York Islanders is the type that could delude a team into thinking their performance has been good enough as of late. The Leafs’ performance against the Isles was very close to as bad as their performance against the Canadiens in terms of the “process” Carlyle stresses often, the main difference being the strength of opponent....

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After 22 games, the one thing Leafs fans can agree on is that Randy Carlyle’s coaching methodology can be frustrating as hell.  Nowhere is this more apparent than the deployment of Mikhail Grabovski. After signing a five-year, 27.5-million dollar contract extension with the Toronto Maple Leafs last March, it seemed as though the Leafs had shored up a terrific top-six centreman who could be counted on for 50 points a season.  But after 22 games Grabo sits with a modest 10 points (six goals, four assists); good for about 37 points in an 82-game schedule.  Yet under Carlyle he’s developed...

1437

Tonight, the Leafs look to move to 3-0 against the Canadiens and in the process take down the current Eastern Conference and Northeast Division leader.The Leafs have handed the Habs two of their only four regulation losses this season. You have to like how the Leafs have matched up with the Habs so far this season, allowing just one goal in their two meetings, and the thoroughness of the Hockey Day in Canada beatdown has to give the Leafs a mental edge. The Leafs have gotten good goaltending against Montreal and have dominated the key areas of the ice with...

884

The always tedious Hockey Night in Canada Hot Stove brought us a worthwhile nugget to examine this weekend, and that’s our first look at the proposed four new conferences that the NHL will be rolling out next season. Earlier in the week, both Darren Dreger and the more reliable Bob MacKenzie hinted that we are only a week or two away from this realignment being finalized, so we can assume this is pretty close to being set in stone: Conference #1 Conference #2 Conference #3 Conference #4 Carolina Boston Chicago Anaheim Columbus Buffalo Colorado Calgary New Jersey Detroit Dallas Edmonton NY Islanders Florida Minnesota Los Angeles NY Rangers Montreal Nashville Phoenix Philadelphia Ottawa St. Louis San Jose Pittsburgh Tampa Bay Winnipeg Vancouver Washington Toronto   Of course, we thought we might be close to a...

Carlyle Welcomed back to Winnipeg

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If I reported back from the future after the Leafs' first 17 games and told you before the season started: Joffrey Lupul has been out injured since game three, Jake Gardiner has only played two games and is in the minors, Phil Kessel went on a 10-game goalless drought to start the season, Dion Phaneuf recorded only one assist and no goals in his first 11 games, James Reimer has been out injured for several games and we haven't acquired Roberto Luongo or any form of goaltending help, our only player acquisition since the lockout ended is Frazer McLaren, Colton...

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One of the more interesting, borderline meaningless stats associated with the Maple Leafs at the moment is their league-leading hit count despite the subtraction of Luke Schenn’s ~270 “hits” (not that Schenn wasn’t physical, but pity the ACC stat recorder who decided his patented three-step push counted as one). Through 16 games in 2013, the Leafs lead the league, ahead of the Flyers and Rangers, with 454 hits. Now, Leo Komarov alone is responsible for 63 of these, taking up Schenn’s mantle as the undisputed team leader, and it’s not like the Leafs finished in the basement in total hits...

887

The month’s half over, and after Monday’s game, the season is a third over. The Leafs are sitting three games over .500, holding 6th place in the East, and are currently on pace for 58 points (rounded up from 57.6) in a season where many prognosticators have considered 54 the magic number for making the post season. So far, the Leafs are sitting pretty despite now being without Reimer, Gunnarsson, Frattin and Lupul. The Leafs have benefited from a friendly schedule. The average 2011-12 point total of their opposition has be 91, which averages out to facing a bubble team every night....

2321

On Wednesday, Wade Arnott, Phil Kessel’s agent, indicated his client’s apparent desire to spend the rest of career playing hockey for the Toronto Maple Leafs.  This, despite being disappointed in the club’s performance last season (I don’t even want to know what adjective he’d use to describe the two previous seasons in Toronto), and with little guarantee yet that this team is primed for long-term playoff success. We’ll probably never know why the camera-shy Kessel wants to remain in a media-laden Toronto; Arnott seems to suggest it is an admirable inner desire to win in hockey's mecca. Perhaps the better...

1225

Leafs Nation is feeling a little down on its luck with the injuries to resurgent starter James Reimer and one of our point-a-game youngsters off the third line, Matt Frattin (while Joffrey Lupul and Carl Gunnarsson remain shelved). Given the busy schedule, two major contributors to the Leafs' 8-5-0 start will be out for what could amount to half a dozen games, as the Leafs play six games in the coming ten days starting tonight in Carolina. Both injuries seem to be set in the 7-10 day range, so it could certainly be worse, and maybe the Leafs will get...

902

When the Leafs get a couple of days off, bloggers have a little bit of extra time to take a wider look at things.  I've spent a lot of time this year watching CHL games, pouring over AHL stats and looking at the player development side of hockey.  Unsurprisingly, that has led to a lot of conversations about the draft itself and it was one of these conversations that spurred me to look into some draft outcomes. Over at Blue Chip Prospects, I decided to have a look at whether teams are more successful at drafting forwards or defensemen in...