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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.
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. Â John Tavares scored both goals for the Islanders.
The Leafs hope to get their first three-game winning streak of the season tonight when the Buffalo Sabres roll into the Air Canada Centre. Â Toronto has gone five straight games without a regulation loss (3-0-2) and hope to continue their stretch of strong offensive performances (3.8 goals per game). Â They’ll be in tough against a Sabres team that is back on the winning track after a slight skid, supported by one of the hottest goaltenders this season in Ryan Miller.
Via TSN: “Mikhail Grabovski and Francois Beauchemin were involved in a scuffle and had to be separated, reports AM640 in Toronto. The radio station is reporting the pair was involved in an argument and Grabovski tried to punch Beauchemin. Jason Blake and assistant coach Tim Hunter got between them.”
Ho hum, a Saturday night without hockey in Toronto. Here are some interesting/random thoughts to consider:
- Now with 8 goals on the season, Phil Kessel has more goals in his 12 games than the Bruins’ highest leading scorer Patrice Bergeron (7 in 25 games played). Wow.
- With Kessel in the lineup, the Leafs are 5-4-3, earning 13 out of a possible 24 points. Without him, they’re 1-7-4. Yikes.
- More on Kessel; For some reason, he seems to love the weekend adrenaline rush. 20 goals and 35 points in 33 Friday, Saturday or Sunday games for Phil last season. This year, he’s got 5 goals and 8 points in 6 weekend affairs.
- The Leafs are dead last in the NHL with a 5.4% shooting percentage, compared to the ridiculous 12.8% of the Colorado Avalanche. Jason Blake’sÂ sniping ‘em at a 2.6% success rate. In other words, he’s going to score every 38.4 shots… Fantastic. Meanwhile, Hagman’s putting them in at an godly 18.6% clip.
- Francois Beauchemin is playing very well of late with 5 points in his last 10 games with a -2 rating, and averaging just a tad under 26 minutes/night during that stretch. Compare that to the 4 points and -7 rating he had after the first 14 games.
After a sloppy first couple of periods, the Maple Leafs held on for a 4-3 victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Leafs blew a 2-goal first period lead, as well as a 1-goal lead in the second, but played a solid third period and came out on top. It surely wasn’t the Leafs’ best performance of the season, but it was nice to see them emerge on the right end of a tight scoreline for a change.
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?
Tonight will be a Battle of Ontario, as the Toronto Maple Leafs travel to Ottawa to take on the Senators in a Northeast Division bout. Vesa Toskala will get the nod in goal for the Leafs, while Pascal Leclaire will get the start for the Sens.
Update: Brendan Shanahan Officially Retires.
For the second time this week, Mike Komisarek has missed the team practice. He also left early on in the game against the Wild on Tuesday and now Ron Wilson isn’t sure when he will return, or if he’s even able to play this weekend.
Update: Burke’s reaction after the GM’s Meeting.
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.
It’s fairly obvious the Leafs are a team that wanders around looking for a win like men in a desert. Once they get close enough to civilization, it turns out to be a mirage.
Update: After careful deliberation, our very own Gus Katsaros was not only credited with his Kessel/Savard information, but he has been invited to appear on Hockey Central at Noon today during the show’s 2 hour timeslot beginning at 12:00 EST. More info inside.
I often have to deal with a lot of commentary that seems when the Leafs skid, becomes more and more of the ‘I told you so’ variety. I don’t get many ‘hey great job’ comments when things are going well, however. With this six-game funk, there’s a boatload. But a couple made me think about why Schenn should be a candidate to sit on Saturday night.
Per Kevin McGran at the Toronto Star:
On a day a former Maple Leafs captain formally announced his retirement, coach Ron Wilson said the team would again start the season captainless.
Newcomers Mike Komisarek and Francois Beauchemin however will join Tomas Kaberle as three alternate captains.
McGran notes that Wilson suggested the captaincy issue would be revisited in roughly a month’s time from now, at which point the coach will consider whether one of his three assistants should be given the role or whether the team should remain captainless for another season.
Read the full article from The Star
Jonas Gustavsson will make his much anticipated debut for the Maple Leafs in tonight’s preseason tilt against Detroit.Â Coach Ron Wilson has indicated that he will be in there for at least the first period, but that the staff wants to break him in slowly.Â If Toronto does not get barraged in the first twenty minutes as they have in recent exhibition matches, the Monster’s tenure may stretch to a period and a half.
In a game that oscillated between sloppy and entertaining, a young squad of Leafs forwards strutted their wares in a final attempt to crack the big club’s roster. If anyone was wondering how the typical Tank Nation extremists’ dream-team of solely youngsters would fare, they would need to look no farther than tonight. It was a mix of rookie mistakes, raw talent, and nerve-fraying moves. Here are some notes from this Tuesday night tilt, from the perspective of someone that was at the game itself:
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.
I had the privilege of a great view from the Gold section, ten rows off the ice to witness a fairly decent game with plenty of positives. It was my first time in the lower bowl, so it was certainly an exciting and interesting experience to see how the other side lives. Impressive performances carried over from the rookie tournament by Tyler Bozak, the game’s first star, and fellow collegiate rookie Viktor Stalberg.
The Maple Leafs began on-ice workouts today at their new practice facility, the Mastercard Centre for Hockey Excellence.
Iâ€™ve been given credentials and was on site for the first day and will be attending all three days of on ice practice.
The following are a series of notes from Day 1 â€¦
Leafs-related news has slowed to a crawl during the final weeks of the offseason, and this year’s summer movie scene has been rather unspectacular. Â I propose a cure for both maladies:Â a hockey movie to fill the void of a puck-deprived offseason, complete with all the excitement of a sports flick and all the truculence of an action blockbuster.
And so, without further ado, here is the game-day casting call for your 2009-10 Toronto Maple Leafs.
A tip o’ the hat to Don over at Mondesi’s House for the inspiration.
Author: B Leaf
Last season, the Leafs were 10th in scoring (244) and 9th in shots on goal (2,603). There is no major reason why that number should drop other than the loss of Antropov. There are other players who should have better years and help fill his ice time with similar results. On the powerplay, the Leafs were middle of the road at 16th. The Leafs were a respectable 17th in shots allowed (2481), but were a league worst in goals against (286). The PK% was also a league worst. Not all the blame can be placed on the goaltending, but a lot of it can. The collective save percentage for the team was an abysmal .885%.
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