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.
Leafs are inexperienced and not ready for playoff hockey.
The Leafs were turning the puck over with regularity up the middle the ice on...
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...
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...
I hope to have an article up later in the week, but for now I thought I’d share some notes.
- Make it three straight years in which a player other than Phil Kessel has taken Leafs fans by storm as the initial team points leader, and three straight years Kessel ultimately comes out on top and leads the team in scoring. First it was Clarke MacArthur, who came in as a cheap free agent and started off his Leafs tenure with 8 goals in 7 games. He finished the year with 62 points that year; Kessel finished with...
- We haven’t discussed the PK nearly enough in this space so I thought now would be a good time to. Last year, I noted the Marlies PK system and how they play a ‘T.’ Essentially, it’s two base defenders down low and then two forwards that play in a straight line and swing back and forth when the puck is around the top of the circle. In other words, it’s a hybrid diamond/box. Last year, the Marlies had the best penalty kill in the league, killing off 88.1%, with the second place team coming in at 85.6%.
The Leafs are all but set to make the playoffs for the first time in nine years, yet there is an inordinate amount of vitriol being directed at Toronto’s head coach Randy Carlyle, for some reason.
Considering pretty well everyone predicted the Leafs not to make the playoffs, it’s pretty funny to see the coach leading a surprising playoff appearance - and a team that's currently fifth in the East and 7th in the League - get chastised
That’s the Toronto fishbowl for you, though.
The main points receiving attention are pretty straightforward:
The Leafs dress goons. Often, they dress two at the...
After looking at potential trade targets in last week’s preamble, it only makes sense to look at the Leafs potential trading chips for the deadline that's two days away.
Around the trade deadline, eyes always gravitate towards pending UFAs and the Leafs currently have five. It’s safe to say UFA to be - Colton Orr, Mike Kostka and Ryan Hamilton - aren’t going to bring Toronto anything via trade so we can cut them off the list of names to discuss. The other two UFAs to be are Tyler Bozak and Clarke MacArthur.
For good measure, John Michael Liles has also...
‘Tis the season for Leafs trade rumours.
Now, I’m not about to dig up every rumour out there on the internet and go through it, but I do want to provide some thoughts on the team, the direction of the organization, and what’s out there before the Leafs do (or don’t) make any moves.
Most trade talk when it comes to the Leafs has centered on a veteran goalie for most of the year, with Roberto Luongo and now Miikka Kiprusoff being named most often.
Even if we ignore that James Reimer and Ben Scrivens’ respective .918sv% and .915sv%...
It’s like déjà vu all over again.
And no, I’m not talking about “The Slide.”
Last season, the Leafs went into the year with moderately low expectations. Many had hoped the Leafs would be able to squeak into a playoff spot, but few experts and analysts actually predicted them to make it last season.
But when the Leafs got off to a hot start last year, led by career seasons from Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul, expectations grew for the team quickly and playoff fever started to rise in Toronto. Of course, we all know how the story ended when the Leafs...
Among certain members of the mainstream media covering the Leafs, there seems to be this idea that won't go away where Tyler Bozak will name Mikhail Grabovski's $5.5 million as his starting point if he is going to negotiate a new contract with Dave Nonis.
You don't need me to tell you it doesn’t make any sense.
Bozak is turning 27 this month, which means he is two years younger than Grabovski. In his four seasons in the NHL, this being his fourth, Bozak has centered the Leafs most talented player, Phil Kessel, for pretty much the entire time.
Since we are almost at the halfway point, I thought now would be a good time to write some notes on each individual player thus far. Here is the close-but-not-quite-halfway Leafs Notebook:
James Reimer - He’s played very well and has certainly quieted some doubters, but if you look at his career he has always played well when healthy. The problem for Reimer has been staying healthy, and he got hurt again this season. More than anything, he’s going to have to prove he can stay healthy. On the positive side, he has not appeared to be as susceptible...
After 20 games this season, the Leafs record is 12-8-0 for 24 points.
After 20 games last season, the Leafs were 11-7-2 for 24 points.
This year’s team has scored 57 goals to this point and allowed 46. That’s a +11 differential.
Last season’s team scored 60 goals and allowed 66. That’s a -6 differential.
Five of the Leafs losses to that point in their last season were by three goals or more (6-2 BOS, 7-0 BOS, 5-1 FLA, 5-2 OTT, 4-1 NSH- in fairness Nashville scored an empty netter here). They also almost blew a four goal third period lead against Ottawa...
The Leafs may have shown the hockey world what they are capable of when they get rolling on Saturday, but one game does not make a season or an identity.
It was only a few weeks ago the Leafs pulled off a fantastic 5-2 win against Pittsburgh on the Pens home opener and things were looking great. James van Riemsdyk said at the time, “We’re a little bit of an unknown, not really picked by anybody. But you’ve got to go out there and prove it every game.”
The next night they lost to the Islanders at home 7-4. Two...
The Leafs have had a lot of positives to start this season, but the power play isn’t one of them.
Last year, Toronto’s power play was a team strength finishing tied for ninth with Colorado in the league clicking at 18.4% over 82 games. After eight games to start this season, the Leafs are currently converting 14.3% of their man advantages, which is 22nd in the league.
The Leafs top scorer on the power play last year, Phil Kessel, is still on the team. So is their leading scorer from the point in Dion Phaneuf. In fact, of the top 10...
Randy Carlyle has not been with the Leafs for long, but he’s beginning to put his stamp on this team.
Hired on March 2nd 2012, the former Ducks bench boss inherited a team on the decline and wound up finishing with a 6-9-3 record to close out the season in his first 18 games as the Leafs head coach. Questions and attention were given to things such as whether or not Carlyle, a former Norris Trophy-winning defenseman, could turn around Luke Schenn’s game, how he was using Connolly-Steckel-Crabb as a shutdown line, whether he and Joffrey Lupul could get...
Line combinations will be discussed ad nauseam in the coming weeks as the season kicks off and the Leafs try to get off to a winning start in a shortened season. The general speculation will surround who should play with who in order to maximize results.
While winning is of course the main the goal of why lines are the way they are, they can tell also tell us other things that are arguably just as important as winning in this 48 game season.
Coming off a season that saw the Leafs in a playoff spot for the better part of...
It was met with a lot of skepticism when the St. John's Maple Leafs were relocated to Toronto in 2005.Â Seven years later, the move just continues to look better and better.
The Leafs' AHL affiliate had excellent attendance numbers and were highly popular in St. Johnâ€™s during their time there. The move was a result of the Leafsâ€™ desire to reduce travel costs and fill the Ricoh. While the attendance was terrible for the Marlies' first few years of existence â€“ including a low point when barely 2800 people showed up for their first ever home playoff game...
Since thereâ€™s no NHL to speak of at the moment, Leafs Notebook is turning into Marlies Notebook until this lockout is over.
Hereâ€™s the thing though: with different leagues comes different expectations and viewing experiences.
When it comes to watching and evaluating the NHL, itâ€™s very simple: winning is all that matters. Each team in the league continuously tries to get better, figuring out how to start winning or continue winning. In the AHL, that is not necessarily the case. At the end of the day the Marlies will probably be judged by many based on the win and...
How many notable Brian Burke quotes has he unleashed for our constant reiteration? Too many to count.
You have your pugnacity, testosterone, and truculent quote, which now might be the three worst words to utter in Toronto. You have your "top six and bottom six" quote. You have your "build from the net out" spiel or the "I don't want to get into the first round just to get my ass kicked" declaration. There's a whole host of other gems, complaints, theories, one-liners to come out of Burke's mouth that are now used to mock him, to cheer him, to...
Sometimes, there's really just nothing left to say.
After the Leafs 7-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, they officially hit that point. You can only talk about the same things so many times before it just becomes tiring, old, and frankly, a waste of time.
Preceding Toronto's shellacking to the Flyers, they played about as lackluster a game as you will ever see at the NHL level, in a 3-0 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. Yes, they summoned some pride against Buffalo and played, all things considered, a solid game. But it wasn't chalk full of meaning in this situation, at...