On a night where we can say the “Sundin Saga” came to its exciting and fitting end, the Leafs played a second straight game where they showed the hard work and energy that was so characteristic of their early-season stretch of hockey. Upon the shootout conclusion of this game, I received three different messages all musing over the same thing: “Whoever scripted this game did it perfectly.”Â In the steady, reliable fashion that Leaf fans became accustomed to over thirteen years of service, Mats Sundin skated down the ice and with apparent effortlessness netted the shootout winner for his team.Â Except this time, he was doing it for the Vancouver Canucks.
For all the hype surrounding the seemingly inevitable fight between Grabovksi and Kostitsyn, the two Belorussians were not quite at the forefront of a very chippy game between the Leafs and the Canadiens.Â The animosity apparently encompassed both squads, as the tone was set early by a first period showdown between Georges Laraque and Brad May.Â As is the case with most matchups of these two rivals in Montreal, the crowd’s energy fed into a quick-paced sixty minutes that saw both teams control the play in the offensive zone for lengths of time on end.
PHIL ORESKOVIC (# 4) â€“ D
Birthdate: January 26, 1987
Hometown: North York, Ontario
Through 45 games the abject tandem of Toskala and Joseph has combined for the worst team save percentage in the NHL and by an ever increasing margin. Where .900 is seen as a barometer for average net minding in the modern game, the Blueshirted duo has managed just .886 between them. Subsequently the hard work put into making the Leafs sixth in shots against with a 28.3 per game average is being undone by a last line of defence that bares a startling resemblance to the Maginot line. Worse still the current status quo threatens to undermine the very rebuilding process Toronto are pinning their future on.
The latest from a source:
Someone recently asked me a trivia question that got me thinking. The question was, â€œHow many major individual awards have been won by Maple Leaf players since the last Stanley Cup win in 1967?â€
ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun is reporting that Brian Burke has been kicking the tires on a more adequate back-up for Vesa Toskala than Leafs’ current incumbent, the antiquated Curtis Joseph. What was initially tabbed as win-win move has proved to be a misstep engendered by nostalgia. The mandate wasn’t overly demanding for Joseph as the logic was that Vesa Toskala, coming off an impressive first year as a full-fledged starter, would only require relief for 15 games on the season. This hasn’t worked out for two reasons – Curtis Joseph has not proven adequate enough to play at a passable level for 15 games on the season (4.12 GAA, 0.843 SV%) and Toskala hasn’t by any stretch of the imagination been the unquestioned starter he was last season.
The Leafs goaltending issues at the NHL level have opened the door for some of their young goaltending prospects to strut their stuff and show everyone what they can do.
With Toskala resting a “sore groin” (that’s probably code for .881 save percentage) and Joseph looking like he should have retired, we saw the much talked about Justin Pogge get his first NHL win on Monday night against Atlanta.
Canada came through the gate a bit slow and sluggish. They managed to escape the first period tied at 1, but as the game progressed with chances equaling out by the midway point, Canada began to come alive and pounded the Fins with shots from everywhere being both unpredictable and a deadly force on every shift in the third period.
Team Quinn does exactly what the former NHL head coach always demanded from his team. An all out hard hitting war, and thatâ€™s exactly what fans have gotten.
That’s what I think of when I hear the rumors and buzz going on about Brian Burke potentially being the next Leafs GM. Everyone associates him with the ability to assemble a championship calibre core and then win it all like he did with the Ducks in ’07. The reality of the situation is that he is NOT the right man for the Toronto Maple Leafs job, and I’m going to explain why I think so.
From a source:
“I’m hearing Leafs will try to sign him immediately upon his release and Burke will be very reasonable in terms of money/term/bonuses to get the job-he really wants it. There is still some issue as to how long the Ducks will expect to keep him on which is clouding the timing somewhat. Leafs really like what Fletch has done and would happily let him finish out the year, but without a guarantee that Holland et al will be available or interested they have no choice but to get this done now.
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.
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Itâ€™s time to take a closer look at the Maple Leafs roster for the upcoming season. As much as some of the younger players have performed well this pre-season, there seems to be too many one way contracts with a death grip on much of the opening night roster.
From Micheal Aldred…
The Toronto Maple Leafs will be watching Luke Schenn with intensity tonight as the rookie is ready to show the world what he can do against arguably the best in the world in Evgeni Malkin. Not far behind him will goalie Justin Pogge be looking to do the same thing. Tonight, however, there will be a stronger cast on the ice for the buds.
Hey guys, I’d like to start off by thanking Alec Brownscombe for this fantastic opportunity and share my enthusiasm and excitement regarding this great new venture. I hope this is just the beginning of something very special, and for myself, the start of a long love affair with hockey writing.
For those who don’t know, my name is Alex Tran, but I’m better known to my fellow “hockeybuzzards” (love that term Alec!) as Acekicker123. I’m a 2nd year university student, and only 19 years of age, but the magic of writing is that your age doesn’t matter, only the words you choose.