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Watching the Leafs play this season has already clearly demonstrated 3 distinct and separate teams.Â Â Team1 started the season on a dreadful 0-6-1 streak.Â Team2 surfaced on the teams first extended raod trip, and although losing the opener by the closest of margins in Vancouver, they managed to rally off a string of impressive games, still falling short and losing in extra time or in a shootout.Â Team3, continued to pick up a point in games and more recently have managed to win their last 2 in a row.Â But, IÂ was leftÂ asking the question, why the turn around?Â If one was to read the various media reports, 1 man alone was responsible for the Leafs woes early on (Toskala) and now one man alone is the saviour and is responsible for the Leafs turn around (Gustavsson).
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.
After such a porous start for both clubs, both teams are heading into tonight’s original six matchup with their longest streak of the season and are currently playing their best hockey. The Red Wings are looking to extend their streak to 4 wins, while the Leafs are looking to extend their streak to 2 games for the first time this season.
Since last Friday, Michael Liambas of the Erie Otters has awaited the league’s decision on his hit to Kitchener Rangers defenseman Ben Fanelli. Today, the OHL has come down hard on Liambas, suspending him for the regular season and playoffs, thus ending his OHL career.
Reports indicate that Phil Kessel will definitely be in the lineup tomorrow night against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Â The much-anticipated debut of the young winger has been a hot topic of late with information surfacing in the last few weeks that he would be ready before the previously upheld mid-November estimate. Â With the Leafs playing much better in recent games, it will be interesting to see how Kessel fits in. Â Fans should not expect him to be completely in form yet, as he will need some time to get into game-shape.
Big thank you to Mark Seidel, Chief Scout of North American Central Scouting and contributor to The Hockey News, for taking the time to chat about the upcoming 2010 NHL Entry Draft. His agency’s latest rankings can be seen here on THN. This time around, Leaf fans won’t be having the opportunity of watching one of the draft’s elite youngsters, such as projected top pick Tyler Seguin or Taylor Hall, fall into their lap. But nonetheless, the draft is always a hot topic in the hockey world.
After a seemingly endless week of postulating, panicking, and debating with the fervent passion that only hockey-starved Leafs fans can display, it is finally gameday.Â While the prevalent hope amongst Toronto followers is that the winless streak gets broken tonight, there is a veritable maelstrom of other stories convoluting that one simple wish.
The Toronto Sun contributes a wildly useful article about various hockey people around the NHL enjoying the Leafs’ slow start.
The Columbus Dispatch is very happy with the addition of Anton Stralman to the Blue Jackets powerplay and feels that it’s a great fit. Stralman notes that the Leafs asked him to play a tougher, high intensity game but that it wasn’t something you can change right away.
Lance Hornby offers hope by way of historical evidence: there are five teams in the last 15 years that have won but one of their first ten games and still made the playoffs. Fortunately, two of those teams were under the tutelage of Ron Wilson, one of whom he took all the way to the Conference Finals while the other draws a parallel to the Kessel situation, with a young Paul Kariya coming back to lead the team to the playoffs.
Patrick King of Sportsnet offers a wrap-up on the whole Ryan-in-Blacker-out situation in Windsor, with quotes from the Windsor GM that the team is very excited at the prospect of adding Kenny for a deep playoff run. As for Blacker, trade talks are heating up and Rychel expects that something could get done by the weekend. You might remember Patrick as one of the contributors to the Maple Leafs Annual.
It’s official. Kessel is now listed on LTIR and Nik Kulemin has been called up. I’ll be liveblogging the Leafs season-opener tonight on thescore.com. The following are the projected lineups, as per Sportsnet, for tonight’s game. Also, Brendan Shanahan has decided to call it a career.
After being released by the team late last week, Theoren Fleury has officially retired from hockey and he did so on his own terms. “I could not sign with another team,” he said. “I retire a Calgary Flame.”
It may be righteous laughter because you’ve been saying it all along: “Toskala won’t bounce back this year”.Â It could also be nervous laughter because you think to yourself: “no way he keeps this play up…right?”.Â It may just be maddening, maniacal laughter as you cry out: “well we all knew this season just could not get off to a perfect start for my Maple Leafs”. Any way you cut it, there is no satisfied, back-slapping laughter celebrating the accolades of Vesa Toskala.Â This is what you would have hoped for among the legion of Toronto supporters to start the 2009-2010 campaign.Â Sadly, our Finnish tender has left us wanting.Â Tonight’s 7-6 debacle against the Buffalo Sabres was just more of the same.
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:
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.
It took sometime to manifest, prolonged in the wake of shoulder surgery and stunted contract talks, but the September 10th news that negotiations between the Boston Bruins, Wade Arnott and Phil Kessel had come to an impasse reignited the rumor mill that has surrounded the Leafs and the Madison, Wisconsin sniper since Brian Burke first tabled Tomas Kaberle in the infamous draft day â€œmisunderstanding.â€
In the week that has passed since negotiations broke down, the value of Kessel has skyrocketed beyond the original RFA compensation of a 1st, 2nd and 3rd round selection in the 2010 draft.
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.
While many of us were toiling away on “live online blogs” to get our hockey fix, a few MLHS writers were fortunate enough to make the trip down to see Game 2 of the rookie tournament in Kitchener against the Boston Bruins. Down at the rink, MLHS’ own Gus Katsaros managed to sneak in a few minutes with Leaf GM Brian Burke and rookie Nazem Kadri to chat about the game and the upcoming season.
I won’t go into a lot of detail about the game itself, as Alec covered that quite well.
The news, for the most part, was good.Â Â Many of the Leafs’ prospects were impressive in their bids to earn a spot on the big club and/or the Marlies.Â Â The following is a quick summation of some of the things that stood out to me from my vantage point at the game.
Amid speculation that Brian Burke is positioning himself to extend an offer sheet – perhaps to long-rumoured target, 22-year-old winger Phil Kessel – after swapping picks to recover the Leafs’ 2010 second round pick in a deal that would seemingly make little sense otherwise, there is another possibility to consider in regards to trade negotiations.
As we prepare for some much needed hockey viewing this weekend, here are a couple helpful tidbits to know for the Maple Leafs Rookie Tournament beginning this Sunday in Kitchener:
- 7 pm ET Sunday, Sept 6th vs. Pittsburgh
- 2 pm ET Monday, Sept 7th vs. Boston
- 7pm ET Wednesday, Sept 9th vs. Pittsburgh
- 7pm ET Thursday, Sept 10th vs. Ottawa
The TV Coverage: The Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday games will be aired on Rogers TV, that means channels 10 and 63 for all Rogers customers.
Making the Trip Down: The Comfort Inn in Kitchener, located at 5 minutes from the arena, is having a special discount rate for the Rookie Tournament. The rate is $96 per night, and includes free parking, breakfast and wireless internet.
- Phone: (519) 894-3500
- Toll Free Phone: (866) 373-4910
- Address: 2899 King St. E. @ Weber St.
- Kitchener, ON, CA, N2A 1A6
Hope this makes things easier for everyone!
Former NHLPA Executive Director Paul Kelly finally broke his silence yesterday following his firing early Monday morning. In a vicious 24 hours that also witnessed Glenn Healy’s resignation, Kelly was forced to defend himself against allegations he misused his office having reputedly been caught reading a confidential transcript from a players meeting.
For his part, Kelly admitted reading the document to the Executive Board meeting that preceded his departure, saying he felt â€œduty boundâ€ after union members, concerned that the NHLPA constitution was being violated, actively sought his participation.
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