MLHS Notebook

MLHS Notebook

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

433

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...

514

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...

394

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...

130

Photo: Marlies.ca It was met with a lot of skepticism when the St. John's Maple Leafs were relocated to Toronto in 2005.  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. John’s during their time there. The move was a result of the Leafs’ desire to reduce travel costs and fill the Ricoh. While the attendance was terrible for the Marlies' first few years of existence – including a low point when barely 2800 people showed up for their first ever home playoff game...

400

Photo: Marlies.ca Since there’s no NHL to speak of at the moment, Leafs Notebook is turning into Marlies Notebook until this lockout is over. Here’s the thing though: with different leagues comes different expectations and viewing experiences. When it comes to watching and evaluating the NHL, it’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...

556

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...

659

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...

1509

Remember Alex Steen? The Leafs drafted him in the first round in 2002, 24th overall. He cracked the NHL in 2005, in part due to the lockout that occurred the year before. Regardless, he played alongside Mats Sundin and had a relatively successful rookie season scoring 18 goals and 45 points. The following season he regressed statistically, notching 15 goals and 35 points. In that leap from year one, to year two, everyone expected Steen to take "the next step" in his development and grow his point totals playing on Sundin's wing for a second straight year. Unfortunately for the Leafs...

918

Right now is the easiest possible time to dump on the Toronto Maple Leafs, Brian Burke, Phil Kessel and anyone associated with the organization in general. Call me crazy, but there are a ton of reasons to be happy moving forward. The fact is, when Brian Burke came to Toronto, the Leafs were a terrible team (roster here. In comparison, here is the Nashville Predators EXPANSION roster) . Some may argue they still are, and that may or may not be valid. But let’s look at what Burke started with compared to where they are now before we conclude his tenure has...

683

Going to cut right to it this week. This was a hard Leafs Notebook to write. Where to start? Talk about why Wilson failed? What's good about Carlyle? How they actually played this week? How about the trade deadline? There was a lot that happened in a short period of time, so I broke it up accordingly: There is a chart on the teams who finished seventh and eighth since the lockout, that I highly recommend you explore, then I talk a bit about what went wrong for Wilson at the end of his tenure, draw some comparisons between he and Carlyle,...

1271

Hockey is not a sport without its politics. If there's one thing HBO's 24/7 has briefly shown its viewers, it's that there is a lot of things that go on behind the scenes that affect roster decisions, play, signings and so on that a lot of the times we generally never find out about. On that note, simply judging a roster decision, a player choice, a line combination and one single game is nearly the equivalent of judging the entirety of an iceberg, just by simply looking at what you can see above water. As many of you know, there's...

1058

Funny how a week changes everything. This time last Monday, the Leafs were coming off handling Ottawa easily and two very good efforts against the Pittsburgh Penguins. They took it to two teams who are in the same playoff clout as them and fared very well. Fast forward to the present moment and they beat a bad Edmonton team, lost to the Jets in Winnipeg, the Flyers in Philadelphia and then at home to the Montreal Canadiens on Mats Sundin night... so naturally, they suck now. The truth is though, they are essentially right where we thought they would be all along:...

910

It's a week of celebration, but it has nothing to do with the current Leafs team. Mats Sundin is back, and this is the week to remember him. This upcoming Saturday the all-time leader in points for the Toronto Maple Leafs is deservedly having his number raised to the rafters. Surprisingly, there are mixed feelings on Mats in Toronto, but when it comes right down to it he gave everything to this team on the ice and that's all that matters. You know the numbers by now, you know the playoff runs, the overtime goals, the consistency; but above all that,...

603

Harry Sinden, the great Boston Bruins GM, once had an interesting quote about the job of being a General Manager and what it's all about. Said Harry: "I think the bottom line is pretty simple, who can play and who can't play. That's the bottom line. That is the fundamental job of the GM. Most GMs, if they didn't have to make that call, could do it, because administratively, it's . There is a little more involvement because you have to plan how you're going to field the team, make such things as a salary cap work, but that's...

524

If there's a theme to this weeks Leafs Notebook, it is going to be two things: toughness and desperation. You can have all the talent in the world, but at this time of the season if you aren't playing tough, desperate hockey, you won't be going anywhere except the golf course. So to talk about toughness, to talk about desperation, we're going to go back to last season first. When the Leafs went on their run to attempt to make the playoffs we saw a lot of things on display from that group and toughness and desperation were two of them. Whether...

1584

Amid all the trade rumours swirling around the Toronto Maple Leafs, I think we're looking at this all in the wrong way. The Leafs have been linked to some big ticket names this year (Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan, Eric Staal, Rick Nash, etc.) and the thing is, they actually have the players to make that deal should they be so inclined - even if that means overpaying. Before when a player of that ability became available, the Leafs did not have the proper assets to pull off such an acquisition. Now, they could win a bidding war should they really want...

625

Forty one down, forty one to go; the Leafs have shown a lot so far this season but now is when we really begin to see how far they have come. There used to be a substantial difference between the top teams in the league and everyone else within the standings. Crunch time in the season would begin with around 20 games left in the season. Not anymore. There is too much parity, too many points on the line, and one bad week could bring you from contender to pretender status at the snap of your fingers. From here on out, it's...

229

Happy holidays, everyone! In light of the holidays, it seemed like a good time to thank everyone for the warm reception I've received since I began writing here. Half way through writing the first Leafs Notebook I ever drafted for MLHS, I remember apprehensively wondering how would it be received and if I would get ripped apart, but you guys have been great. I enjoy the conversation and for those of you who don't comment, I appreciate the time you put in to read it. Due to being out of country I won't be writing the Leafs Notebook next week, and...

439

Last season Brian Burke boldly stood in front of the media after trading Tomas Kaberle and made it clear, “Getting into the playoffs by the skin of your teeth and getting your ass kicked in the first round is not my idea of building a championship team here.” A little under a year later and 32 games into the next season, it's fair to begin evaluating whether the Leafs are playing hockey that would make them competitive in the playoffs or if they're doing just enough to make it and subsequently get their "ass kicked in the first round." At...

312

NHL realignment, more Burke & Wilson vs. Cox & Simmons, new owners and, oh yeah, the Leafs played some hockey games, too. Quite the week and a lot to discuss, so we'll get right to it. The most important thing to happen this week, believe it or not, was not the new ownership change, it was NHL realignment. The Leafs will of course be playing the Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Buffalo Sabres, Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning six times a year now, each. They already play four of these teams six times a year, but now they're adding 12...