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The Leafs goaltending issues at the NHL level have opened the door for some of their young goaltending prospects to strut their stuff and show everyone what they can do.
With Toskala resting a “sore groin” (that’s probably code for .881 save percentage) and Joseph looking like he should have retired, we saw the much talked about Justin Pogge get his first NHL win on Monday night against Atlanta.
It’s hard to imagine that by the Christmas break, the offensively-challenged, Sundin-less forward corps of the Toronto Maple Leafs would be sitting at 7th overall in league scoring. They’re averaging a robust 3.10 goals for a game, which is a marked improvement over their 2.74 goals for average from last season. And what’s even more impressive is that key roles are being played by some of the Leafs younger players.
Ed. Note: Lots of holiday reading going up today for you guys. Merry Christmas.
Here we are the Christmas break, and Iâ€™d like to take the time to look back at what we saw in September, what we expected by Christmas and what we envision for the future of the Blue and White.
The final roster for Hockey Canada’s 2009 World Junior Hockey team was announced early this morning and here were the final 16 cuts:
Memorial Cup winning netminder Tyson Sexsmith and Jake Allen; defencemen Travis Hamoic – who won gold with the under-18 squad – Kevin Marshall, Patrick Wiercioch, Jarred Spurgeon, Brendan Smith and Tyler Cuma, who suffered a knee injury during camp; forwards Evander Kane, Riley Nash, Jamie Arniel, Nazem Kadri, Matt Duchene, Brayden Schenn, Taylor Hall and Matt Calvert.
Hey folks, couldn’t sleep, so I decided to grab a glass of milk and pop on the computer for a few minutes and was privy to some late night “breaking news”. There are unconfirmed reports that Toronto may have put in a claim on the recently waived Tampa Bay Lightning forward, Chris Gratton.
Wilson had some choice words for the media after last night’s brutal loss that made Phoenix, one of the league’s lowest scoring teams, look like an offensive juggernaut out there. Talking about why he benched his all-star defenseman for the entire 1st period, Ron had this to say about Tomas Kaberle:
â€œYeah, I sent [Kaberle] a message, and he sent me a message back by being minus-4″.
Today was the long-awaited day when Brian Burke was finally introduced to the Toronto media and fanbase. Highlighted below are several important quotes that stuck out to me as I listened to Burke outline his plans for building a championship calibre team here in the capital of the Hockey Universe:
Cox reporting for the Star, says the deal is pretty much done:
“The wait is over. Brian Burke is set to become the new president and general manager of the Maple Leafs. With only a few final details to be sorted out, none of which are viewed as deal-breakers, the deal is all but done.
In case you missed it:
“The Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t waiting for Brian Burke to come in and start making moves, as the club traded defenceman Carlo Colaiacovo and forward Alex Steen to the St. Louis Blues for forward Lee Stempniak on Monday.”
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 muchÂ be considered the quarter pole of the ’08-’09 season.
International Scouting Services recently released their November rankings for the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, which can be viewed here: http://www.hockeysfuture.com/articles/10697/iss_top302009_prospects_november/
A collection of unrelated hockey thoughts for a cold and wet Saturday morning:
That’s what I think of when I hear the rumors and buzz going on about Brian Burke potentially being the next Leafs GM. Everyone associates him with the ability to assemble a championship calibre core and then win it all like he did with the Ducks in ’07. The reality of the situation is that he is NOT the right man for the Toronto Maple Leafs job, and I’m going to explain why I think so.
During Saturday night’s home game against the Canadiens, Mike Van Ryn went back in his own end to play the puck, and was subsequently hit from behind by Kostopoulous squarely on the numbers, sending Mike face first into the boards. The impact was tremendous and right away you could tell that it was serious as Van Ryn collapsed immediately in a heap, holding his face with blood spilling onto the ice. The hit occurred at 7:03 into the first period, and Kostopoulos received a 5 minute boarding major and a game misconduct.
A game rife with goals, end-to-end action, controversy and paroxysms of passion… without getting into specifics, this was a belter of a tilt tonight and one that hinted at a renewed rivalry between two age-old foes.
Sorry for the delay guys.Â We greatly appreciate the flood of great questions and comments, and are sorry to say we couldn’t get to them all. We’ve all been pretty busy lately for a variety of reasons, so without any further ado, let’s get started on the 1st ever Maple Leafs HotStove Hockey Panel Discussion.
Forming our panel for this session is Alec Brownscombe of Hockeybuzz and MLHS godfather, Gus Katsaros of Mckeen’s and MLHS fantasy expert, and myself, Alex Tran, an MLHS blogger.
Just thought I’d share a little something I read on Hockeybuzz:
“Finally, I have something in common with Richard Peddie.
It has nothing to do with salary, or responsibility at Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, as King Richard would never threaten his own job security by placing me in charge of hiring the next GM of the Leafs. Richard and I, however, are the disconsolate subjects of websites aimed solely at our demise. Yes, a helpful e-mailer sent me an attachment this evening â€“ â€œfirehowardberger.comâ€ has joined cyberspace alongside the more entrenched â€œfirerichardpeddie.com.â€ And, you thought Peddie was in a class by himself.
What a fantastic game last night. A thrilling third period comeback on Hockey Night in Canada at home against an Original Six franchise. Doesn’t get much better than that! We’ve been seeing a lot of this exciting new hockeyÂ lately, haven’t we? A great comeback victory against New Jersey on the road, arguably the best gameÂ sinceÂ the Montreal knockoutÂ on the last game of the season at homeÂ 2 years back, followed by this doozy of a gameÂ against the Rangers. Gotta love it!
Let’s talk about the guy who kickstarted last night’s comeback, John Mitchell.
Sorry folks, been really busy over the past week or so. Let’s talk some breaking news:
“The Maple Leafs will announce as early as this afternoon that rookie defenceman Luke Schenn will be staying in Toronto and will not be going back to the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL. Teams can hold on to rookies for nine games before their contract as junior-aged players kick in. The 18-year-old Schenn has played well enough to stick with the big team.
Discuss it Here >>>
Alright everybody, let’s sit down and do some good old fashioned stat crunching. I call this the GM Game.
Hypothetically speaking, let’s say you had two young defensemen: Player A and Player B.
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