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So the Maple Leafs extend their tank-friendly stretch of non-success with a convincing 4-1 loss at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers tonight, marking their seventh loss in their last nine games. As I snicker while watching Mats Sundin look equal parts lazy, fat and slow (yeah, he scored an empty net chance, so what), here are a few thoughts about tonight’s pedestrian performance from the Blue and White:
I have neither seen nor heard an official announcement from the team, but Anton Stralman is now listed on the Leafs active roster, following Jiri Tlusty’s return to the Marlies.
Also, the Globe & Mail is reporting that John Mitchell will skate between Antropov and Ponikarovsky against the Senators.
A few quick thoughts from tonight’s game via the blackberry…
-Firstly, a soporific affair inside the ACC tonight.
-Jiri Tlusty had troubles settling into the game and looked edgy. He handled the puck like a hand grenade, likely due to nerves. It looked to be a result of his trying too hard to impress.
The Holiday break is as good a time as any to take a peek at who the Maple Leafs’ leaders are in the major statistical categories, and how they stack up against the league leaders as of December 24th.
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 Maple Leafs, now bearers of a winning record at 14-13-6, are looking to continue their offensive onslaught against the league’s fifth worst defense as they return home to host the underachieving Dallas Stars.
Ron Wilson appears to have assembled a winning combination up front. After an 8-5 beating at the hands of the Boston Bruins, Wilson re-united the line of Nik Antropov, Matt Stajan and Alexei Ponikarovsky atop the roster, kept in tact the dynamic third line of Jason Blake, Dominic Moore and Jeremy Williams and it’s resulted in two dominating wins by a collective score of 13-5. For the first time since early October, the Leafs have surpassed the .500 mark at 14-13-6 after winning five of their last six.
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.
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.
For your perusal:
Williams & White score to rally Leafs to 2-1 win at the HSBC
The Maple Leafs escaped from the House of Pain with two points tonight and, better yet, their two call-ups were superlative in the process. Jeremy Williams sniped his second in as many games from the half boards to even the game at ones late in the second frame before Ian White beat Ryan Miller with a seeing eye double to give the Leafs the edge in the third. Fellow call-up Jaime Sifers was a physical force on the blue-line, throwing a team-leading three hits and finishing second only to Jeff Finger in terms of ice-time (a resounding 21 minutes including 5 minutes of short-handed time). Sifers played a role in a critical penalty kill in the late stages.
Be sure to check out Scot Louck’s post-game thoughts below.
Brian Burke’s exact intentions with the Toronto Maple Leafs will be the source of much speculation likely until after the Christmas season, but there may just be one tweak made in shorter order: locating a genuine heavyweight pugilist as a bottom six “hardhat” in his roster.
The Leafs held a press conference today with Brian Burke. Here are some interesting comments on behalf of the new President and GM.
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.
1) The Maple Leafs have slogged through one of the toughest schedules across the league for the month of October, playing only three teams below the .500 mark, and currently sit 4-3-3.
This evening’s 3-2 loss was another tough one to swallow for a Maple Leafs team that largely outfought the Tampa Bay Lightning throughout the course of the game. There appeared to be only one real area where the Maple Leafs fell short in this one… star power. The Tampa Bay Lightning’s Vincent Lecavalier pulled off a few moments of magic which proved decisive. Backstopped by a stingy Mike Smith, the Lightning were sturdy defensively, but on top of their 39 shots on target, the Leafs missed the 6×4 on an inexcusable 19 occasions (believe it or not, only 2 were off the stick of Jason Blake).
In the ultimate act of callousness by league schedulers, the Maple Leafs will open their regular season account inside the Joe Louis Arena, where they will endure the pre-game banner raising ceremony for the Stanley Cup winning Detroit Red Wings.
Mark Bell’s career in Toronto seems to be all but over. The 28-year old from Ontario joined the Leafs along with Vesa Toskala at last year’s draft shrouded under the cloud of an impending DUI sentence. With that cleared up this past summer, many Leaf fans hoped for a revival of the Mark Bell that scored 25 goals in Chicago during the 2005-2006 season. However, it was quite evident that Bell never managed to put it together in training camp or in the exhibition games that the Leafs played.
Tank Nation rejoice.
A pattern of close, competitive losses is emerging in Leafland, equating to a 2-5-1 pre-season record.
These performances include bright showings from the team’s youth, hitting, shot blocking and entertaining hockey.
With tonightâ€™s preseason game just a few hours away, there appears to be a shift of mood in the locker room for the duration of the preseason. It looks as if the days are numbered not only for those who wonâ€™t be joining the regular crop this year, but also for a few regulars.
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