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Morning Mashup

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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...

1668

The Maple Leafs are in fourth place in the Eastern Conference (7th in the league), against everyone's better judgement — the smart money being that the Leafs will be a non-playoff team and probably a lottery pick team. And by everyone, I mean everyone except for Ian Dudgeon (@Dudgee) and I. Most people that write about the game had them finishing out of the playoffs again and if I'm being honest, I saw everyone else's prediction via email first and thought I should be throw them a bone. While the key will be avoiding the characteristic season-crippling slump, this start means...

614

“When the schedule first came out, you know, you look forward to it. But I think both teams have moved on now and they’re having some success, too.” – Luke Schenn The definition of success is a funny one. It seems like it should be the Flyers who are proudly sitting in fifth place in the East, poised to make a leap into a tie with Pittsburgh or surpass a division leader with a victory on Monday night. It seems like it should be the Leafs who are taking pride in getting over the hiccups of a slow start, pleased...

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On Hockey Day in Canada in February of 2012, the Leafs organization added special lustre to their matchup against the Montreal Canadiens with the decision to honour Mats Sundin with a pregame banner raising ceremony at the ACC. The Leafs were 28-21-6 at the time, in the playoff hunt, and had even more reason than usual to put on a good showing. They proceeded to get stomped by a score of 5-0, slipping silently into the night and initiating a disastrous slump that would eventually extend the team's playoff drought and end their head coach's tenure behind the bench. That...

1127

Not a bad day to be snowed in, with a full lineup of all-Canadian hockey on television. Peterborough is hosting Hockey Day and I may brave the conditions to check out the scene on the Trent Canal. The road warrior Toronto Maple Leafs (5-1 away) look to replicate their success in the season opener at the Bell Centre tonight. The Leafs should expect a stiffer test as the Habs have gone 6-2-1 since looking awful in that opener and are no longer sans Subban. The two teams are a point apart sitting sixth and seventh in the Eastern Conference standings....

Jordan Staal Wide Open

1010

There's no time to lick our collective wounds over a poor 4-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes; the Leafs square off against The Washington Capitals tonight (7pm, Leafs TV). Here is the NHL.com's preview for the game: Season series: Second of three meetings, also the second in five days. Nikolai Kulemin and Matt Frattin scored third-period goals as the Maple Leafs rallied to defeat the Capitals 3-2 at Air Canada Centre on Jan. 31. Big story: Both teams are struggling to score goals, and until that changes for Washington all eyes will be directed at Alex Ovechkin. With the Capitals tied for 25th in scoring at...

373

It’s painful for me to admit, but as much I will continue to bitch about how useless Colton Orr, Mike Brown, and (presumably) Frazer McLaren are, they will always have a spot on a Dave Nonis/Randy Carlyle run team. This is clearly an issue that I and many others have a difficult time coming to terms with, but it’s true. An enforcer will be dressed every night, and we’ll all be treated to a sideshow (admittedly an entertaining sideshow most of time) before proceeding to move on with the game, and coming back to terms with the other shortcomings...

1968

At the start of this season, noise was made that the current Leafs roster would be ill-equipped to serve under Randy Carlyle’s tough-nosed, nasty, defense-first style of play.  That there was not enough team truculence to compete. Despite the team placing 3rd in the league in fighting majors with seven, the club has been shorthanded a surprisingly low 23 times (3.29 penalties per game), fifth least in the league thus far.  It’s quite early still, but the disciplined play is a stark change for a team coached by Carlyle.  And that’s all for the better. Some interesting initial penalty killing numbers...

1146

On Wednesday I joined Michael (from Vintage Leaf Memories) and Matteo (from We Want A Cup) on their Leaf Matters podcast. If you haven't had a chance to check out their podcast, please do so. Our good friend Curt (Blue Chip Prospects) has been on previously, as well as other notable guests like Pat Quinn, Allan Bester, Joe Bowen, Down Goes Brown, and more. Some of the topics discussed were: Why the Leafs can't seem to protect a lead The lack of possession players on the Leafs What Kessel brings to the table when he's not scoring goals Where Dave Nonis is likely to start adjusting the roster, and where...

Sabres vs Leafs

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Toronto will be without Clarke McArthur as they visit the Buffalo Sabres. The injury to his pinky finger won't sideline him for long but it does leave the Leafs' LW depth, already missing Lupul, looking thin for tonight. The Sabres, like the Leafs, are not exactly hot. They have lost three straight and Thomas Vanek was sidelined by a strained muscle in Sunday's 3-2 loss in Washington. The left winger had been on the ice for all 11 of his team's goals prior to that contest, scoring three and assisting on six - one versus the Maple Leafs. Vanek has 16...

Mike Kostka

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One of the more positive stories in Leafland a week ago was Mike Kostka earning a spot on the Leafs blue line coming out of camp. The 27-year-old career AHLer made his NHL debut in Montreal and was able to pick up his first point. He didn’t look horribly out of place against a horrible team. It also probably didn’t hurt to have a guy who has been playing all season, eating 20 minutes a night, in the first couple of shakedown games. Kostka certainly seemed like a reliable option that would slowly slide down the depth chart as Carlyle...

Nazem Kadri

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Last night, the Toronto Maple Leafs put on a classically Toronto Maple Leaf performance, falling 7-4 to the New York Islanders.  It got ugly late, as an out of synch, laboured Leaf club seemed to erode in the final 40 minutes.  It was an all-too-familiar sight to behold.  And it has, perhaps unduly, substantially darkened the opinions of the team. So what can be made of Leaf’s four game season?  Here are a couple quick thoughts on the manic life of a rebuilding club. A close win over a divisional rival, a close loss to a divisional rival.  A blowout come-from-behind...

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By Declan Kerin and Alec Brownscombe The dark cloud hanging over an otherwise exciting 5-2 win in Pittsburgh last night was the injury to Joffrey Lupul. “Right on time,” say the haters, as rest of us shake our heads and chalk another one up to the Luck of the Leafs. Dave Nonis and Lupul agree to terms on a five-year contractual commitment, both talk at length about how the player’s injury history is behind him, he takes a puck to the forearm off a slapshot by his own teammate two games later and the x-ray reveals a fracture. ...

1280

The Leafs are in Pittsburgh tonight for what should be their stiffest test of the young season. The Leafs have won just once in their last five visits to the Consol Energy Centre. A frontrunner in the East, Pittsburgh has Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang all healthy and in the lineup to start the season and are currently 2-0-0 with nine goals scored. Crosby and Malkin have averaged over two points per game against the Leafs at home, and it goes without saying that facing a team with Crosby leading one line (alongside Kunitz and Dupuis) and Malkin...

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

668

You’d think we were still waiting for the season to start with number of contract posts that have gone up in the past 24 hours. I think the Lupul trade has been analyzed very well by a number of Leafs bloggers (here’s Alec’s take from yesterday), but the fact that this has been discussed so much will not prevent me from weighing in on why I partially like this signing, but ultimately still conclude that it was a bad idea. I think this deal if managed properly could actually benefit the Leafs, and I’ll toss in my $.02 on...

604

There's no better way to kick off a Leafs season than to beat the Canadiens in their own rink, inspiring some hilarious yet predictable non-blowout booing from the fans and some verbal pleas to the front office to strike a deal with their unsigned RFA. In the fans' defense, the Habs looked particularly poor in a close but sloppy game all around. An entertaining first period, a product of pent up anxiousness and energy from the players, gave way to a bit of a crash in the second and third, expected from a group of players that hadn't played against...

854

The Toronto Maple Leafs lost the services of forward Keith Aucoin on Thursday, when he was picked up by the New York Islanders off of waivers.  Jokingly mourned about online, Aucoin’s departure comes less than six months after then-GM Brian Burke signed the veteran to bolster the AHL Marlies.  His acquisition by the Islanders marks the Leafs first loss to the roster due to waiver eligibility, but it probably won’t be the last. Indeed, both the Leafs and the Marlies seem poised to lose some assets, all because timing is everything.  And because the Lockout has far reaching effects that...

Randy Carlyle

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Gregg Scott, Ryan Hamilton, Mike Mottau, and Keith Aucoin were placed on waivers Wednesday as Randy Carlyle, Dave Nonis, and the Toronto Maple Leafs begin the hilariously rapid expedited process of trimming the roster from 31 players in camp to 23 for Saturday's season opener. My understanding is that rosters need to be finalized by 3pm Friday afternoon, which means any additional cuts will actually have to be sent down/placed on waivers Thursday to get the roster set on time. I only know that because of a Tweet I glanced at Wednesday afternoon, though. I could be completely wrong. Feel...

1411

A few quick notes and some links for your hump day morning. - Interesting to hear, via the observations of MLHS rinkside reporter canucksnaphook, about the focus on one-on-one battles, “compete” level, and the overall intensity of practices. This is what Randy Carlyle has been referring to when he says players will be pushed to do things unnatural to them. The roster isn't exactly optimally suited to Carlyle hockey but he wants more physical engagement in all three zones and a concerted group effort from all of his players in this regard. He noted that there was more compete and...

1468

It was a bit of an eventful weekend with the CBA Memo of Understanding signed, Burke getting off his parting shots, Nonis making his big splash with the signing of Mike Mottau, and we finally have a schedule for the season (Full Schedule can be found here.) I normally like to be a bit more detailed than this, but it’s Sunday night, I’m tired and a little annoyed that all trades we were promised haven’t materialized. There’s a good chance I sat around all day waiting for something worthwhile to write about, and when that didn’t show up you got...