MLHS Notebook

MLHS Notebook

Since 2011, Anthony Petrielli has been providing his weekly long-form breakdown of the Toronto Maple Leafs' games.

788

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. Every GM in the NHL had to know the Leafs were in a tough spot already with Tyler Bozak and Dave Bolland down, only for Nazem Kadri to get suspended and leave the Leafs...

486

No appetizer today. Straight into the main course: - Last season, one of the biggest strengths of the Leafs penalty kill was its health and established rotation. Everyone knew who their penalty killers were and when they would be on; Bozak and McClement would go on for the immediate d-zone draw, Kulemin would hop on after the Leafs cleared it for Bozak, Komarov/Bozak would come on when McClement finally got tired, and JVR would see spot duty or help kill the penalty if one of the regulars was in the box. To tie it altogether, McClement, Kulemin, Bozak, and Komarov...

504

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. During the 2007-08 season – Nonis’ last with the Canucks — the team had 12 defensemen suit up due to injuries on the back end. Regulars Kevin Bieksa and Mattias Ohlund missed significant time, waiver claim (before the season started) Mike Weaver ended up playing 55 games, and players such as Lukas Krajicek, Luc Bourdon, and Nathan McIver ended up playing a lot more than intended. That’s because ultimately Nonis didn’t make...

325

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. Notes -...

429

If you missed part one of this week's Notebook on Morgan Rielly, check it out here. Notes - Thought the JVR goal against Edmonton was a subtle example of the growth in Kessel’s game. If you watch the reply below, he gets knocked down, but keeps his stick on the puck and holds it against the boards to buy time for help. Then, he gets up and keeps battling. That effort and battle wasn’t always evident in Kessel’s game. Against Nashville, he went into the boards with Seth Jones and as they were on a collision course for the puck he...

Morgan Rielly

504

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. Rielly has played four games for the Leafs, so if he continues to play every game the Leafs won’t have to make a decision until October 25th, after a game against the Blue Jackets, at the earliest. He’s had a solid start to his NHL career averaging 17:24 a night, which has pretty well been all at evens as he averages less than a minute of shorthanded (11...

1348

It seems like the Jake Gardiner talk just won’t go away, even though an immediate trade seems extremely unlikely. Elliotte Friedman got the ball rolling on Gardiner rumours early last week in his 30 Thoughts piece, where he wrote: 19. I see Carlyle. I see Jake Gardiner. I hear what they say about each other and think, "Well, 50 per cent of all marriages do end in divorce." On the weekend, the Satellite Hotstove panel discussed how the Leafs were open to listening to offers for Jake Gardiner. Of course, that blew things out of proportion. Here are some of the things we...

331

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. This preseason though, nobody has really bothered to drum up the Leafs results or tout it as some big accomplishment and momentum boost heading into the season. Maybe it’s because the Clarkson...

678

There are so many different angles to consider when looking at last night's Leafs-Sabres brawl. Where to start? Perhaps the best place is the shift before, when Jamie Devane and Corey Tropp mixed it up with the end result being a predictable Devane win considering the size advantage. The faceoff before they fought, Tropp was clearly asking Devane to go the entire time. By the time the puck dropped, he still kept at it before the big Leaf eventually obliged. I can’t tell you whether it’s right or wrong for Devane to fight a guy in that situation, but if...

279

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. This past season Orr led the league in penalty minutes and was second in fighting majors. According to hockeyfights.com’s ratings, he won nine of those 14 fights. Of the players who finished top...

1017

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. Losing Eakins After four years in which Dallas Eakins served as an assistant coach for the Leafs and Marlies, and after a year as the Leafs director of player development, Eakins became head coach of the Marlies in August of 2009. He took a team that finished with 90 points and lost out in the first round of the playoffs to last place in their division...

1098

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: Daniel Marois: As a guess, what type of player do you feel the Leafs would want to jump into the top-10 for? If someone like Valeri Nichushkin slips outside to just outside the top-10, would it be worth it to jump up about 10 spots to get him? I am still banking on Toronto targeting Max Domi and seeing how far he slips. If someone...

317

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. Few people gave the Leafs a serious chance to beat Boston, but here we are. After falling behind in the series 3-1 following a heartbreaking game 4 loss in overtime, the Leafs have battled back to tie up the series. Both teams started the game off tentatively as there were only 15 shots on net by the Leafs and Bruins combined after one period. Toronto started to pick it up...

343

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. Reimer ended up with 43 saves last night, helpeing the Leafs stave off elimination after the Bruins turned it on and launched 19 shots at him in the third period. He had two saves in particular – the toe save on Bergeron, and the knob save on Jagr — that were ten bellers. Reimer has played pretty well this...

380

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. Last season the Leafs weren’t even in Boston’s stratosphere. Every game was embarrassing in every way possible - the scoreline, the physicality, the intimidation, the goalies, you name it. Even if Boston does end up winning this series in 5, there’s no question Toronto has made them work for...

610

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,...

771

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. Here are some notes and points of discussion from one of the Leafs' best games of the season: - After game 1, I noted Chiarelli's quote about the Leafs being a faster team than Boston and how the Bruins were trying to trap their speed. Well, game 2 had so many great examples...

480

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. *** Narratives: Leafs are inexperienced and not ready for playoff hockey. The Leafs were turning the puck over with regularity up the middle the ice on...

355

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...

755

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...