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.
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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,...
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...
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...