Since 2011, Anthony Petrielli has been providing his weekly long-form breakdown of the Toronto Maple Leafs' games.
AP Photo/David Duprey
You have to give Dave Nonis credit: The Leafs needed a center, so he went out and got one.
It was only a few weeks ago that I wondered aloud, in this very space, whether or not Nonis would pull the trigger to fill a position of sudden need, knowing he sat on his hands when he was faced with this same depleted center situation in Vancouver.
Photo: Getty Images via NHL.com
No appetizer today. Straight into the main course:
It is a little ironic that Dave Nonis left Vancouver this past weekend with an eerily similar problem to the one he faced while GM of the Canucks.
Photo: Getty Images/mapleleafs.com
Usually I like to include a little preamble before getting into notes, but the notes went a little long this week so I decided to scrap it. I’m also looking into something that could become a lengthy post; if all goes well there, I’ll hopefully have that up a little later in the week.
Moving on, there’s a lot to talk about in a week when JVR and Kessel put on a show against Anaheim, the Leafs made Columbus look a lot better than they are, and the team played two of their best periods of the season against Pittsburgh.
If you missed part one of this week’s Notebook on Morgan Rielly, check it out here.
We are only six games into the regular season, but the Leafs are quickly approaching what will be one of their biggest decisions of the season: What to do with Morgan Rielly.
It seems like the Jake Gardiner talk just won’t go away, even though an immediate trade seems extremely unlikely.
Only three teams in the preseason had more points than the Leafs (Boston, Washington, Dallas), and you know what’s the best part about that? Nobody really cares.
It was only a few years ago that some kids named Bozak, Stalberg, Kadri, and Gustavsson wowed Leafs Nation with a strong preseason and had fans thinking “hey, maybe this team is better than we thought.” We all know how that ended.
There are so many different angles to consider when looking at last night’s Leafs-Sabres brawl. Where to start?
The Leafs announced the resigning of Colton Orr and Drew MacIntyre yesterday.
Orr played 44 of 48 regular season games with the Leafs before dressing for all seven playoffs games. For his efforts, he’s getting a 2-year deal worth 1.85M total. His 925K salary is the most you can make while still being able to be buried if waived and sent to the AHL under the new CBA.
Even though the Leafs haven’t played a hockey game in weeks and the Stanley Cup Finals are about to begin, there is no shortage of storylines surrounding the team right now. Let’s get to them.
We aren’t in the dog-days of summer yet, but in terms of Leafs content things are in a lull until the draft and free agency. With that in mind, I answered some of your questions:
We’re going seven.
How many Leafs fans would have gladly accepted a one-game winner takes all scenario for the Leafs at the start of this series?
That’s where Toronto finds itself today.
If you have been following along with my Notebooks since the playoffs started, you’ll know that I’ve continually asked if James Reimer was going to steal the Leafs a game at some point in this series.
Well, he’s officially stolen one.
No matter what happens in the rest of the series, this much is clear: The Leafs have closed the gap on the Boston Bruins.
Are they equal to or better than Boston? Probably not. But compared to where the Leafs were last year against Boston, this is a dramatic improvement.
If the story of game 2 was the Leafs’ excellent line-matching and the great performances from their stars, the story of game 3 was the Leafs shooting themselves in the foot.
The simple fact of the matter is that when you make the mistakes the Leafs did, you are rarely going to win a playoff game.
Alec already went through all of the goals against this morning so I’m not going bother doing that again. Plus, I think we all know what happened. Other than the first goal, which was the result of a lost faceoff and unfortunate bounce, the Leafs gift wrapped Boston three other goals with giveaways and poor defense.
The chances the Leafs have at beating Boston after spotting them three easy goals have to be slim to none.
Seems nobody told the Leafs this wasn’t supposed to be much of a series.
Toronto stole home ice advantage from Boston with a thrilling 4-2 win last night and if the first playoff game back in Toronto didn’t already hold enough intrigue, it’s now going to be officially bonkers.
Well, that was a rude awakening wasn’t it? Here we were all were excited and pumped up about playoff hockey… Only to come crashing back to Earth watching the Leafs play like that.
After the jump, I’ll discuss the main narratives circulating right now and offer my two cents. From there I proceeded to re-watch the game – unfortunately — and have written out some additional notes. I’ll wrap up with the biggest questions going into Game 2.
Photo: Associated Press
Since when do the Leafs do things the easy way, anyways? The truth is the Leafs made their bed on this one. All they had to do was beat Montreal at home on Saturday night to play the Habs and give everyone the series they wanted to see. They laid an egg. Boston blows a two goal lead against Washington and then lets in a late one against Ottawa to lose two games in a row and here we are.
I don’t think the Leafs have a better chance at beating Boston than they did Montreal, but I’ll say this about the series: Nobody is seriously picking the Leafs to win this one and I look forward to seeing Toronto in the underdog role. If nothing else, hopefully they make this a war.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are officially in the playoffs.
I hope that felt as good to read as it did to write.
It has been a long nine years since Jeremy Roenick broke Leafs Nations’ hearts in 2004. The excitement that year was nuts. The Leafs traded for Hall of Fame defenseman Brian Leetch for a bunch of guys nobody knew existed and Toronto was buzzing with Stanley Cup hopes. I remember Leetch’s first game against the Islanders; Leetch had three points and the TV broadcast had this stupid iso-camera on Leetch every time he touched the ice. (Ironic side note: the only player traded in the deal who became relevant in the NHL was drafted with the expended second round pick, a player by the name of Michael Sauer – you know, the guy who had his career ended by Phaneuf).
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