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Bring On Training Camp!
The Toronto Maple Leafs held their on-ice portion of training camp today. Players have been split into three squads to accommodate the 63 players invited to camp.
Among the contingent of fans outside the ice surface at the MasterCard Centre for Hockey Excellence was a throng of media and of course, Leafs staff.
Why the Maple Leafs should make the playoffs in 2010-11â€
By: Joe Cino
Everything that could have gone wrong for the Maple Leafs in 2009-10 did. A combination of cold streaks, underperforming veterans, bad goaltending and a slew of injuries capped off a basement finish. The roster has been fine tuned, with additions like Giguere, Phaneuf and Versteeg chief among them, but by and large most of the roster is the same as last yearâ€™s iteration. With so many holdovers from the previous year, are the playoffs a realistic goal for the Maple Leafs? I believe that they are, with Corsi ratings, Goals versus Threshold and the realistic impact of the new Leafs taken into account.
Weâ€™ve partnered up with Pension Plan Puppets to bring to you a Player Review series, where we will be evaluating and grading the 2009-10 season for every Leaf who featured in a significant number of games for the Blue and White last season, with an eye towards 2010-11. Today we feature Colton Orr, profiled by Alec Brownscombe:
Acquired via free agency on a 4-year, $4 million contract last July 1, Colton Orr arrived in Toronto to operate as the club’s resident heavyweight, a position left unoccupied since fan favourite Wade Belak was shipped to Florida in February, 2008.
What the Leafs were said to be getting in Orr was not only a player with a winning track record as a pugilist (he was voted as either winning or tying 15 of his 18 fights in 2008-09 according to hockeyfights.com), but also a player capable of skating a regular fourth line shift due to his forechecking energy, passable on-the-puck abilities, and defensive diligence.
The news that the Tampa Bay Lightning have Dave Nonis at the top of their shortlist for general manager candidates was perhaps an instance of the inevitable. If Tampa or Nonis deem it not a right fit, we can only expect more of the same from other owners looking to fill vacant general manager positions.
It was reported at the time of Nonis’ signing that a one-year clause was included to assure Nonis’ services belonged to the Leafs for 2009-10 at a minimum. When Nonis’ contractual obligation ends is unclear, but from Joe Nieuwendyk to Steffan Kronwall to Justin Pogge, it’s clear Burke will never step in the way of an employee’s desire to advance professionally.
But not all hope is lost. First, let’s look at what the Leafs have in Nonis, and hopefully what they don’t end up losing.
While the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs are in full swing and continue to provide us with some fantastic moments of triumph, the fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs are now forced to once again shift their focus to off ice activities.
And so too has Leafs brass.
Despite his team sitting on the sidelines, Leafs GM Brian Burke made quick work of two signing he was keying in on, signing goaltenders Jonas Gustavsson and newcomer Jussi Rynnas to contracts. Â Continuing with the in-house theme, Burke will now certainly turn his attention to Nikolai Kulemin, if he hasn’t done so already.
And while we are seemingly quite far away this point, it won’t be long before the draft and subsequent free agency period rolls around.
With the final bell about to ring season most fans would be happy to forget – although the impending draft all but dictates they most assuredly will not – the Maple Leafs will officially enter the offseason five campaigns removed from the playoffs at the conclusion of Saturday night’s game in Montreal.
Unlike previous years, however, this season has revealed to fans — amidst the rubble of far too many losses — a silver lining of sorts: the promise of youth.
The Toronto Maple Leafs play their second-last game of the season tonight versus the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden (7:00 pm et, TSN). The Rangers are fighting for their playoff lives, sitting 3 points back of the Bruins and 4 points back of the Flyers for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. As for the Leafs, their hopes of moving out of the basement of the East are all but gone.
For the sixth and final time this season, the Toronto Maple Leafs will face their rivals, the Ottawa Senators, this time in enemy territory at Scotiabank Place.
Tonight’s game will close out the season series between the two teams. The series currently stands at 3-2 in favor of the Leafs, who have won their past three against the Senators.
The Leafs are coming off Sunday’s loss to the New York Islanders in which the players appeared completely spent (5 games in 8 days, culminating in back to back games, will have a negative effect on any club).Â However, prior to that debacle, Toronto had won three in a row on merits of effort-laden, energetic play.Â With a much-needed day off under their belts, the players will look to return to their winning ways with a strong effort against their bitter provincial rivals.
The Toronto Maple Leafs, spiralling of late with a 2-7-1 record in their past 10 games, will to right the ship at home tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers.Â Â The Leafs will also be looking for revenge in this matchup, having been on the receiving end of a 6-2 thrashing at the hands of the Flyers only a week ago.
Just a quick update:
The Maple Leafs have recalled Viktor Stalberg from the Marlies and are sending down Joey MacDonald, as Jonas Gustavsson is ready to back up Vesa Toskala Friday night in Buffalo.
Probably a good idea to start Vesa on Friday. Give Jonas an extra night off (hopefully, anyway) and keep Toskala away from the Bruins Saturday, as he’s had trouble with them this season.
For all the headlines the franchise had made off the ice, it’s the Phoenix Coyotes on ice product that should be making the news.
Led by a core of young, talented hard working players, and solid goaltending by Ilya Bryzgalov, the Coyotes have been one of the biggest surprises in the NHL this season, and continued their winning ways tonight defeating the Leafs 6-3 in Toronto, denying the Leafs of their fifth straight win on home ice.
Petr Prucha score twice for the Coyotes, while Vernon Fiddler, Paul Bissonnette, Scottie Upshall and Radim Vrbata all tallied singles for Phoenix. Â Jamal Mayers, Phil Kessel, and Alexei Ponikarovsky replied for Toronto.
Tonight, the Atlanta Thrashers will visit the Toronto Maple Leafs at the ACC, and it will be the return of both Nik Antropov and Pavel Kubina. Exelby is in for Finger, so he'll get a chance to face his former team. For those with their fingers crossed, I also hope Exelby will fight Eric Boulton.
Warning: The following could make your eyes fall out, your ears explode, and cost you years of therapy. Howâ€™s that an introduction for you?
A dreadful 3-11-5 start for the Maple Leafs has everyone asking the same two questions. What the heck happened? And what the heck is the solution?
It started off as a fast paced and strong two-way game for both clubs, but the Maple Leafs just could not keep up with the Wild’s pressure for a full 60 minutes. Minnesota came into this game to make a statement, much like the Leafs did on Saturday night against the Red Wings. There were key chances for the Leafs to score, but a few bad breaks, including costly penalties, and missed opportunities cost the Leafs their 7 game point streak in a loss against the worst team in the Western Conference.
The Leafs held practice today in preparation for a busy week. They will have yet another back to back set of games over the weekend, and a few changes in the lineup have been made to kick things off this week.
Update: Jonas Gustavsson starts on Tuesday night!
Update 2: Komisarek probable for Tuesday’s game – Wilson.
The stats were not in Toronto’s favor. The Red Wings current streak was not in Toronto’s favor. Chris Osgood’s recent play was not in Toronto’s favor. But the Leafs came out last night with such, dare I say it, truculence that fans gave them a standing ovation for their efforts, as well as the Leafs first win at home this season.
The Maple Leafs are creative. You have to hand it to them for finding new ways to lose games all the time. In the home opener against Montreal, it was sloppy turnovers and poor special teams leading to a blown late third period lead. On Saturday night, they decided to pack it away early against the Caps before going on a late run at the end to make the score more respectable. Tonight, it was a listless effort physically and emotionally, creating virtually nothing in the way of offense and falling victim to a pair of strange plays.
The pre-season Buds may have exuded that truculent belligerence so deeply worn into the modern Toronto fans lexicon, but they rarely looked convincing. Either letting leads slip or being forced to fight back from poor starts, the Leafs managed to scrap their way to a strong 6-3 record. But as the 2008 Detroit Lions will attest to, a good pre-season rarely translates into a successful regular season.
Subsequently, while it is easy to buy into the hype of September hockey after the barren months of Summer, the Leafs will do well to learn from the more lackadaisical moments of their 6-3 warm up before they start lacing up against the cream of the leagues â€œAâ€ squads. After all, rallying performances aside, the pre-season has done little but affirm that the Leafs own one of the strongest depth charts in the league, not necessarily the strongest team.
The following are the lineups for both teams tonight. The Leafs are going to get a closer look at their top 4 defensive pairings and check out the rest of the young guns competing for jobs.
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