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2007–08 Toronto Maple Leafs season

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He looks much better in this uniform

No Leafs fan wants to be reminded of that most hated of Finnish goaltenders, Vesa Toskala. He was ushered into the organization as the next great goalie that would surely be the one to finally right this sinking ship. As any fan will tell you, this has been a disaster. In the nature of looking back at previous Leafs from yesteryear, I’m going to show you just how bad Toskala truly was. All stats not specifically referenced are borrowed from BehindtheNet.ca.

We’ll start by taking a look at Toskala’s season in 09-10. Toskala ended his tenure with Toronto with a record of 7-12-3, appearing in 26 games. His save percentage was a ghastly .874 and his GAA was a monumental 3.66. You don’t need to follow hockey closely at all to glance at these stats and understand why they are so bad. This was a far cry from his stats in 07-08, where he had a .904 save percentage and a 2.74 GAA. Even his rather subpar 08-09 season was better, when he had an .891 save percentage and a 3.26 GAA. Could the Leafs being in second last place in the league have something to do with his decreased stats?

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    After last night’s impressive 4-0 victory over the Flyers, the Maple Leafs will attempt to build some momentum tonight versus the Capitals in Washington.

    Surprisingly, the Maple Leafs, who have allowed a league-high 164 goals, have won two straight against the Capitals, who lead the league with 171 goals. However, the Caps won their only home game against the Leafs early in the season.

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      Leafs hope to hold off the league-best Washington Ovechkins at the ACC tonight, let’s see if Toskala can hold up.

      EDIT: Good start Vesa.

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        Tonight will be a Battle of Ontario, as the Toronto Maple Leafs travel to Ottawa to take on the Senators in a Northeast Division bout. Vesa Toskala will get the nod in goal for the Leafs, while Pascal Leclaire will get the start for the Sens.
        Update: Brendan Shanahan Officially Retires.

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          It is their second meeting this year, and the first played a big part on blinding fans for both teams in the belief that each were elite competitors. Since that opening night, the Habs have on 5-7-0, while the Leafs have gone 1-7-2. But there are always upsides, and tonight marks to start to capitalize on those specifics.

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            The following are the Leafs lines for tonight’s game. Ron Wilson has shuffled the lines quite a bit and has looked to find some chemistry for a shooter to play with John Mitchell. He’s hoping Jason Blake will fill the role while Jamal Mayers can provide some grit on the right side.

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              Author: B Leaf

              Last season, the Leafs were 10th in scoring (244) and 9th in shots on goal (2,603). There is no major reason why that number should drop other than the loss of Antropov. There are other players who should have better years and help fill his ice time with similar results. On the powerplay, the Leafs were middle of the road at 16th. The Leafs were a respectable 17th in shots allowed (2481), but were a league worst in goals against (286). The PK% was also a league worst. Not all the blame can be placed on the goaltending, but a lot of it can. The collective save percentage for the team was an abysmal .885%.

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                As the goals against continue to pile up, so do the questions regarding the Toronto Maple Leafs’ future between the pipes. Last night’s 7-5 drubbing at the hands of the Boston Bruins officially moved the Leafs to the basement of the NHL in terms of goaltending and defensive play with an astounding total of 274 goals allowed (3.41 GAA). Combine that with a league worst 88.4% save percentage and you’ve got some serious issues. The team directly above them? Andrew Raycroft and the Colorado Avalanche. Ugh.

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                  On a night where we can say the “Sundin Saga” came to its exciting and fitting end, the Leafs played a second straight game where they showed the hard work and energy that was so characteristic of their early-season stretch of hockey. Upon the shootout conclusion of this game, I received three different messages all musing over the same thing: “Whoever scripted this game did it perfectly.”  In the steady, reliable fashion that Leaf fans became accustomed to over thirteen years of service, Mats Sundin skated down the ice and with apparent effortlessness netted the shootout winner for his team.  Except this time, he was doing it for the Vancouver Canucks.

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                    It was a game that was circled with a red marker on the calendar, for the Maple Leafs. They would travel to Denver to meet the Avalanche, but this visit had a different feel to it; a different aura. It was potential revenge for ex-blue and white-ers, and similar revenge for a team that struggled the last 3 seasons.

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                      Through 45 games the abject tandem of Toskala and Joseph has combined for the worst team save percentage in the NHL and by an ever increasing margin. Where .900 is seen as a barometer for average net minding in the modern game, the Blueshirted duo has managed just .886 between them. Subsequently the hard work put into making the Leafs sixth in shots against with a 28.3 per game average is being undone by a last line of defence that bares a startling resemblance to the Maginot line. Worse still the current status quo threatens to undermine the very rebuilding process Toronto are pinning their future on.

                        2

                        As they hit the road for a three-game away stretch, the Maple Leafs look to extend their three game winning streak but must start by conquering the impenetrable fortress known as the TD Banknorth Garden, home to the Eastern Conference-leading Boston Bruins. The 21-5-4 Bruins boast an 11-1-1 home record and are currently riding an eleven game home winning streak during which they’ve outscored their opponents by a collective score of 53-22. The big, bad Bruins are back.

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                          The Maple Leafs have recorded their first three game winning streak since March by way of a shootout win (you heard me correctly) over the New Jersey Devils. Joe Sakic Rookie call-up Jeremy Williams made it three-in-three and also sniped in the shootout to continue his tear at the NHL level. Fourth shooter Jason Blake won the game on a sweet spin-o-rama move but I still highly dislike him. Seriously though, his work rate and overall level of play have visibly improved in the month of December.

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                            image via maple leafs.com

                            The Maple Leafs look to extend their two game winning streak Tuesday night as they entertain the New Jersey Devils sans Martin Brodeur. Rookie Jeremy Williams looks to continue a streak of his own having scored in each of his first two appearances this season.

                              9

                              You couldn’t help but feel the Southwest Coast whammy was afflicting the Maple Leafs once again as Alexander Frolov streaked in alone and beat Vesa Toskala less than a minute into the three game road spread.

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                                With the Leafs blowing 3-0 and 4-2 leads, eventually leading to a 5-4 overtime loss, we have now hit what can pretty much  be considered the quarter pole of the ’08-’09 season.