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Photo Credit: The Star

Toronto Marlies 3, Abbotsford Heat 2 – Marlies take series 4-1

Game sheet

The Toronto Marlies continue their playoff march towards the Calder Cup finals after disposing of the Abbotsford Heat in overtime of game 5 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals. Despite not playing a great game, it was good enough to get them the victory. Abbostford were the more desperate of the two teams and it showed—Toronto was down 2-0 during the first period and being outplayed, for the most part.

In the 2nd and 3rd period, The Marlies slowly started to chip away at Abbotsford, and ultimately, it was a game that came down to special teams. The Marlies league leading penalty kill and improving powerplay were too much to for Abbotsford to handle.

1011

 As the systemic dismantling of this summer’s Stanley Cup champions continues in earnest, league watchers are crying foul. Where detractors of the current, hard revenue based cap once denounced the communistic, unilateral sharing of league revenue as the prime illustration of illogic in the CBA (alongside the long-long term contract loopholes), Monday’s exit of Antti Niemi from the Chicago Blackhawks has helped turn the club into the latest martyr’s of the cap.

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Why the Maple Leafs should make the playoffs in 2010-11‏

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 year’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.

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In case you haven’t already heard, the Maple Leafs have broken off negotiations with prospect Bill Sweatt, acquired in the Versteeg trade from the Blackhawks. In a statement to the Toronto Sun, Burke explained that the club would rather keep a spot on the 50 contract limit open than continue discussions with Sweatt. As the talks continued to stall, the Leafs likely turned and upped their offer to Marcel Mueller, whose ELC contract value sits at $1.12 million. Sweatt is likely looking for a figure close to Blake Wheeler’s $2.825 cap hit as a 4-year college free agent, which is a steep price to pay for a player with speed but limited offensive upside.

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The NHL announced this morning the full order of selections for the 201o NHL Entry Draft.  While it is widely known that the Toronto Maple Leafs do not have a first or second round pick, they will select six times in this year’s draft.  Carolina leads the way with 11 selections, the New York Islanders and Edmonton Oilers are close behind with 10 picks.

The San Jose Sharks and the Dallas Stars hang at the other end of the spectrum, with only four picks at this year’s draft thus far.

Here are the order of selections for the Toronto Maple Leafs:

Round 3: 62nd overall

Round 4: 112

Round 5: 122

Round 5: 144

Round 7: 182

Round 7: 202

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For longtime fans of the NHL, it was nothing new.

An organization set to come in, guns blazing, and attempt to be “competition” for the National Hockey League.  On the surface, perhaps not a bad idea.  After all, competition creates creativity.  Competition brings out the absolute best in everyone.

However, there have been two big attempts by rogue organizations to dethrone the NHL from atop their perch as the number one hockey league.

And just like the WHA years earlier, is it possible that the KHL is going the way of the dodo bird?

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Whichever way you cut it, the Leafs endured a torrid season that no statistical tinkering can mend. Regardless, if there is one thing most opposing NHL fans can agree on it’s the increasing need for an overhaul in the leagues points’ structure and the farcical awarding of points in the overall standings.

Where once every game had two points at stake, either by means of two for the win or split after an OT tie, the inclusion of an extra point for teams losing in OT or, more prevalently, after the shootout, has spawned an lopsided points structure that favours teams and coaches who adopt an cautious approach toward the end of regulation time that is the polar opposite of what was originally intended.

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As you are no doubt well aware, the NHL draft lottery will be held tonight in New York to determine the order of the 14 non-playoff teams heading into the June 25-26 draft in Los Angeles. You can catch coverage of the lottery at 8pm on TSN.

Update
And the winner is … Edmonton.  Leafs fans, prepare yourselves to endure “Kessel Trade” debates for the better part of the next decade.

    9

    Mike Peca, also known as the little engine who could, has officially called it a career today. The 35-year old grinding leader played 864 career games with the Canucks, Sabres, Islanders, Oilers, Maple Leafs and Blue Jackets.  During that time, he tallied 176 goals, 289 assists and 798 penalty minutes.  On two seperate occasions, he reached the Stanley Cup Finals (Buffalo in 1999 and Edmonton 2006).  He also helped Canada capture the gold medal at the 2002 Olympic Winter games in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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      With the World Junior Championship gold medal game taking centre stage tonight (7:30pm, TSN), Leafs’ fans can be forgiven for overlooking tonight’s matchup against an inconsistent Florida Panthers squad (7:00pm, Sportsnet).

      Coming off a disastrous mini-road trip out West, featuring losses to the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames, the Maple Leafs will look to inject some confidence into their lineup with a victory against the visiting Panthers, who sit only 4 points ahead of the Leafs in the Eastern Conference standings.

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        The Leafs face up against their old bench boss Pat Quinn tonight hoping to get back on a winning streak of some sort.  The big lineup change seems to be a demotion for Grabovski to the fourth line.  Rickard Wallin benefits from Mikhail’s demotion with a undeserved look on the second line.

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          Happy Boxing Day, hockey fans!

          It’s a great day for hockey here in Leafland.  The World Junior Championship Tournament, featuring the Leafs’ highly-touted Nazem Kadri, officially gets underway this afternoon as Canada takes on Latvia.   Following the tournament opener, we are in for a treat Leafs take on their long-standing rival, the Montreal Canadiens.   And for those who are able to remain awake after all the holiday parties of the past two days, the Edmonton Oilers will visit the Vancouver Canucks in what should be a typical Saturday night Western Conference barn-burner.  Does it get any better?

          Now, onto the Leafs-Habs preview:

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            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!

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              Seven games into the season might still be too early to panic, but it’s becoming quite clear that we’re inching quickly towards the button. The Sun is reporting that Brian Burke has beeen making calls around the league in search for another goal scoring forward. In the same article, the Sun also mentions that Florida has begun preliminary talks in exploring trade possibilities for young power forward Nathan Horton, who has thus far struggled out of the gate. Is there a possible fit here?

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                The Edmonton Oilers are said to be meeting face-to-face with disgruntled Ottawa Senators forward Dany Heatley tonight in a last-ditch attempt to convince him to accept their trade offer.

                Update: Heatley putting trade on hold – again.

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                  It is being reported by TSN that Dany Heatley has refused to waive his NTC in a deal to the Edmonton Oilers for the speculated return of Andrew Cogliano, Ladislav Smid, and Dustin Penner. I’m not usually one to have an opinion, but that was somewhat classless, then again, he signed a NTC for a reason, so he could have this control.

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                    (Cross-posted at Checking From Behind)
                    4:20 PM

                    Fan 590 suggests the Dallas Stars have offered the #8 selection and Ondrej Roman or Perttu Lindgren for Tomas Kaberle.

                    3:00 PM

                    Thanks to Andrew Stoeten for finding this tidbit:
                    “Columbus is not interested in Leafs defenceman Tomas Kaberle, and one rumour circulating is that the Thrashers will land him, as part of a package that will see the Leafs get Atlanta’s fourth-overall pick” – Columbus Dispatch.

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                      This time of year pretty much everyone is doing a mock draft of some sort.  So, with one week to go until the Entry Draft, I figure it’s time I chip in with my two cents on what may or may not unfold with the top 10 picks come June 26.

                      Note that the draft projections listed here are made based on current draft positions, and are not reflective of any possible trades involving the top 10 picks.

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                      Excitement abounds these days in the streets of Toronto, as a long-overdue rebuilding effort for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the prospect of a revitalized franchise, moves into high gear.

                      Arguably the last successful revitalization of the Maple Leafs franchise occurred in the early 1990s, when in the span of three seasons the Leafs went from basement-dwellers to Stanley Cup contenders.  Although many are quick to credit then-GM Cliff Fletcher’s 1992 mega-deal with the Calgary Flames as the key turning point for the franchise, the groundwork for the franchise’s rapid acceleration from pretender to contender actually began much earlier … in the 1989-90 season, to be exact.