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Boston Bruins


    Tonight, the Toronto Maple Leafs play host to the Los Angeles Kings. Fortunately for the Leafs, they are back at home where they have a better record (9-10-5) than when playing as the visitors (8-16-5) this season. Unfortunately for the Leafs, the Kings have a better away record (15-10-1) than they do when playing as the host team (14-9-2)… also Kopitar. Yeah.


      The Toronto Maple Leafs were amongst leaders in 2009 for all the wrong categories. The Buds were the most scored upon team in 2009, playing an NHL leading 13 overtime games (2-11) record, and NHL trailing overtime winning percentage (.154).

      Broken down after the jump is how the Leafs fared in the calendar year 2009.

      Best Wishes for a Happy New Year to everyone!


        Toskala, YouTube star, put us all in a pretty bad mood last night.  We’ll see what Gustavsson and co. can do against the Bruins!


          Just wanted to share a fantastic bit of work done by Nights, one of our many enthusiastic and intelligent readers, who evaluated how the NHL landscape would look without the first 8 games of the season during which the Maple Leafs struggled mightily. Great work!


            Did the neutral zone trap morph into the shootout? The pre-lockout reason for altering the rules, transfigured into the shootout as teams play for the shootout more this season. If trends are any indication, perhaps the two memes have a direct correlation.


              For the second time in a week, the Maple Leafs have felt the wrath of the Boston Bruins on home ice, only this time there were distinct differences from Saturday’s 7-2 beat down.

              The Leafs, after sleepwalking through two periods of the hockey game, decided to bring their game in the third and made things interesting with goals by Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin to pull them within a goal of the Bruins.  A late, costly penalty by Leafs winger Jason Blake sealed their fate however, as the penalty kill sagged once again, and Mark Recchi scored with under three minutes left to ice the game for the Bruins.


                It took a while, but the Toronto Maple Leafs are finally starting to look comfortable on home ice, and on the ice in general, as one of their better overall team efforts led to a 3-2 win over the New York Islanders on Wednesday night in front of a joyful, loud crowd at the Air Canada Centre.

                Jason Blake scored the winner with just under five minutes left in the third period as the Leafs skated away with a hard fought 3-2 win.

                Francois Beauchemin and Ian White also scored for Toronto, who improved to 7-2-2 in their last eleven games.  John Tavares scored both goals for the Islanders.


                  The Toronto Maple Leafs begin a 3 game road trip tonight as they visit the long time rival Montreal Canadiens tonight for an Original Six Battle. This is the third time these two clubs have met this season, with Montreal taking the first two games by scores of 4-3 in overtime, and 5-4 in a shootout. The Habs will celebrate their 100th anniversary on Friday against another original six club in the Boston Bruins, but will first have to deal with the always threatening but rarely scoring Leafs.


                    By: Gus Katsaros
                    Prior to the season starting, I had written about the impact of schedules. In particular, as the Leafs face the Habs tonight after playing the previous night, while Montreal is rested. Interesting enough, the last time this happened, Toronto beat Detroit 5-1.

                    Schedules make a big difference in the results of NHL teams fates during the season. In some instances, it could be the difference between a playoff spot and a tee time (and I thoroughly enjoy both – FORRRREEEE!!).


                      The Toronto Maple Leafs are back on the road tonight with a matchup against fellow Eastern bottomer Carolina Hurricanes. It will be a weekend of back to back games for the Leafs as they head home on Saturday to play host to the Detroit Red Wings (a game I will be liveblogging). But there is a significant question at hand for the Leafs heading into tonight’s game: Can a team aiming for the playoffs beat the worst team in the league?


                        Wanted to take a minute and congratulate our very own Gus Katsaros on his segment on the Fan590 this afternoon.  Outstanding analysis of both the Phil Kessel/Savard relationship and analysis of the Boston Bruins schedule last year vs this year.  The little snip at Mr MacLean at the end was priceless as well..  Congrats Gus, and again, wonderful work..


                          An interesting question was brought up by Dave Hodge yesterday morning on TSN’s The Reporters amid the Phil Kessel whirlwind that erupted over the weekend: if Peter Chiarelli wasn’t interested in matching an offer sheet at the dollar figure to which Burke eventually signed the 21-year-old, described by Sports Illustrated’s Michael Farber as “a one in 500 chance,” why didn’t Burke submit the offer sheet and pay but a third rounder instead of an additional first round draft selection? Farber seemed convinced not only that Chiarelli wouldn’t match but that Burke’s decision to go the trade route instead of offer sheet avenue was to save face, anticipating the charges of hypocrisy he would encounter linking back to his response to Kevin Lowe’s offer sheet submission for Dustin Penner that ultimately went unmatched while in Anaheim.


                            A quick profile of the newest Leafs forward, and an excerpt from the McKeen’s Yearbook. For those in the Vancouver area, I kick off a monthly segment as a guest on Sportstalk Weekends with Rick Quinton on AM980 CKNW tonight .. we’ll be discussing this deal and giving you all a fantasy primer for your drafts.


                              After watching the first four pre-season games, I’ve noticed a few players stand out while others have sunk into a state of mediocre play. This is my brief evaluation of the players we no longer need, including my own opening night roster preview. I look forward to reviewing all of your own opening night rosters compared to the way I view the brand new Maple Leafs.


                                Talking to sources this evening, I’ve managed to partially reconstruct — there is obviously much more to it than what is posted here — how the trade for Phil Kessel ultimately came about, and the origin of many of the rumours that circulated prior to the deal finally going down.

                                The Bruins wanted at least one player in a deal, but no suitable player-based deal could ultimately be found with any of Nashville, New York, or Toronto.   At the end of the day, Bruins’ GM Peter Chiarelli opted to accept a package of picks that was originally offered by the Leafs nearly a full week before the deal was finally consummated.

                                Here’s how it is said to have happened.


                                  TSN is reporting that the Leafs are on the verge of landing restricted free agent Kessel via trade from the Boston Bruins. The article stresses however that the deal is NOT completed but it does appear to be in its final stages. No word yet at this point which components are involved.


                                    Per the Globe and Mail: “The lineup for the Leafs’ first preseason game against the Boston Bruins at the Air Canada Centre on Wednesday will contain plenty of youngsters like Nazem Kadri, Tyler Bozak, Phil Oreskovic, Jay Rosehill, Andre Deveaux as well as veterans Colton Orr, Wayne Primeau and Jason Allison, who is trying to make a comeback. Look for Allison to centre a line with Jiri Tlusty and Nikolai Kulemin on the wings. Joey MacDonald will play half of the game in goal.”


                                      Earlier today I was able to catch up with the Leafs at their new practise facility, a day before training camps officially open. I had just arrived and pulled into a parking spot and just as I was about to step out of my car, a beast of a Cadillac Escalade pulled into the spot right beside me. I had noticed the New York plates as it drove in, and was quite pleased to see new Leaf Mike Komisarek step out. It was my first time meeting the former Hab in person and it didn’t take long to figure out why he was so popular and well liked amongst his peers and fans in Montreal. He was more than willing to sign any autograph demands from his new fans, and was quite easy going. Any questions regarding his relationship with Grabovski, and if there were any ill feelings between the two can be put to rest. During skating drills and the scrimmage that followed, Grabs and Komi were often laughing it up and joking around with each other with playful jabs and hooks. If there is any animosity between the two, it was far from evident. It was a pleasure watching Komi having a good time with his new team and cleary getting comfortable and fitting in with the group.


                                        The Boston Globe reports that restricted free agent winger Phil Kessel will no longer be negotiating with the Boston Bruins and will likely now await either a trade or an offer sheet from a rival club. The writer suggests that Boston GM Peter Chiarelli would likely prefer going through the trade route in order to receive a package of higher value than 3 unproven draft picks as compensation for an offer sheet in the $5 million range. The article also makes an interesting point: despite missing 12 games, Kessel finished tied for 12th in NHL scoring last season and the players above him average $6.5 million in annual salary. Makes you think, doesn’t it.

                                        With that being said, the pressure to make a deal seems to lie on the Bruins because per the CBA rules, if Kessel were to sign an offer sheet before the Bruins can find a suitable trade, they would be forced to either let him go or match and keep him. They cannot simply match an offer sheet and then seek to deal him for a package of higher value than the draft picks during the first year of his new deal. But again, sneaking behind the Bruins GM’s back to ink Kessel to an offer sheet before they have a chance to act may trigger some harsh sentiment and retaliation.

                                        In other news, just a friendly reminder that tonight is the fourth and final game of the Leafs rookie tournament in Kitchener, which kicks off at 7pm ET against the rival Ottawa Senators. Coverage will be aired once again on Rogers TV channels 10 and 60.