Home Tags Posts tagged with "Jason Blake"

Jason Blake

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48th Highlanders

The Leafs remain on an 82-0 pace after a thrilling home opener that had everything but a fight. The Leafs found a way to win despite a goalie pull and a 4-2 deficit, as their off-season additions shone bright en route to a 5-4 shootout victory.

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In part nine of his 12 burning questions series, Derek Harmsworth looks at the Maple Leafs special teams, and why it must improve in order for the team to have success.

When it came to doing this 12 burning questions series, I discovered a lot of things about the Leafs, and how I will be looking for different things this year.  And even though I already knew the fact, it was all the more confirmed to me that there really are no definitive answers to these burning questions, at least not in August anyway.

However, as we reach part nine of the series, I can confidently say that I can, for the first time this series, give a more defined answer.

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In part two of his 12 burning questions series, Derek Harmsworth looks at the Leafs goaltending of the past, and whether this year’s tandem can provide them with healthy, consistent efforts.

The NHL goaltender.

It has been said that there is no more important position in all of pro sports.  And if you believe that, it’s quite easy to see why the Toronto Maple Leafs haven’t had much regular season success in the post lockout NHL, and why the post season has eluded them.

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Somewhat surprisingly, there has been a fair amount of debate over yesterday’s signing of Colby Armstrong.

I find this interesting because  much of the criticism seems to revolve around the notion of $3m equating to more than a 15 goal career average, even though Armstrong wasn’t exactly acquired for his offensive prowess.   The main criticism seems to be, why would the team be willing to make a $9 million investment over 3 years, when similar production can likely be found at a cheaper rate?

Now, it seems most decided to stop at that point and take the easy road; that being negativity for the sake of negativity (a known idiosyncrasy of Canadian hockey fans).  But instead of screaming “WHY did they sign him?”, I propose a different question:  Why DID they sign him?

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    We’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 Jeff Finger, profiled by Alec Brownscombe.

    The Summary:

    A former 1999 eighth round pick, Jeff Finger came to the Leafs via unrestricted free agency as a 29-year-old who was skating in the ECHL the last time Toronto made the playoffs. After his first steady NHL season with Colorado in ’07-08, Cliff Fletcher rolled the dice on a $3 million-per-year raise for the journeyman that will cost the Leafs 3.5 million against the cap annually until 2012. Fletcher obviously thought there was a lot more to come from Finger in his late development as a two-way defenceman, but let’s just say on that fateful day in July, 2008, the optics weren’t good.

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    In 2005, the NHL was returning to work after a year long lockout, a bitter battle between players and owners over cost certainty.  The entry draft in June of 2005 was really the beginning of a new era in hockey, and a new era for the Pittsburgh Penguins, who drafted Sidney Crosby first overall, a move that would change their fortunes forever.

    Drafted second that year was Bobby Ryan.  A big bodied power forward with tremendous skill, I had the chance to watch Ryan in person blaze up and down the ice for the Owen Sound Attack.  One look at Ryan moving swiftly between checkers, puck on a string as he bobbed and weaved his way into a prime scoring area, and it was clear.

    This dude was one heck of a consolation prize.

    And the GM who was afforded that consolation prize, as you are all aware, was one Brian Burke.

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    When Brian Burke became the new general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs in November of 2008, Leafs Nation embarked on a new journey.  A new beginning.  With Burke at the helm, the Leafs organization finally had a general manager who had credentials.  Who had a winning pedigree.  Who had the exact type of attitude the Toronto market needed.

    A man who wouldn’t take any nonsense from anyone, and a man who wasn’t afraid to pull the trigger on a big move that may set the team up for the better in the long term, a characteristic it seemed so many Leafs GM’s lacked in between the time of Fletcher’s first run, and Burke being christened as the new head of the front office.

    Finally, Leafs fans were able to legitimately talk about the “Big O”, and they weren’t faking it either.

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    So the curtain comes down on the 2009-2010 Maple Leafs season. I know many readers are upset because we as Leaf fans must once again adopt and follow an entirely different team as a sort of playoff hockey avatar in order to fully enjoy the postseason (I find the only way to really get in to it is to pick a surrogate rooting interest). The angst is ramped up in Leaf land as well because the team finished so low in the standings, yet come draft day the guys clustered around our table won’t be studying anything more intently than the lunch menu, because we won’t likely have a pick for the first day and a half (unless Burkie has a miracle relating to a certain Czech defenceman tucked up inside those French cuffs).

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    Prior to the lockout, undrafted college free agents were a rare, straight to NHL commodity. Either serving out their apprenticeships as minor league signees or plying their trade overseas, few players transitioned directly from the ranks of college hockey to the NHL without enduring prolonged development curves. However, in a post-lockout landscape where GM’s clutch their most valued assets and superstars to their clubs with dynasty length deals, and where dollars and ice time are apportioned in equilibrium, graduate aged (or younger) players progressing from the NCAA as free agents are providing comparatively cheap labour in an increasingly scrutinized marketplace.

    Not too surprisingly, considering both his hockey heritage as a former captain of the Providence College Friars and his somewhat condensed timetable for rebuilding the Leafs, Brian Burke has been one of the first to plunder the verdant college market in recent seasons, in turn providing a quantum shift from the conventional dominance of the CHL at the junior level.

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      Submitted by Michael Stephens (a.k.a. Baumgartner)

      The Toronto Maple Leafs have the League’s worst penalty kill, sporting a 73.0% success rate. They have been shorthanded 252 times this season, surrendering 68 goals. Through 71 games this season, they average 3.5 penalties (252ts/71gp) each night.

      Around January 15th, this vaunted penalty kill was even worse, an abysmal 68.9%. Ron Wilson was smugly talking about how he had to teach his boys how to flip the puck down the ice and out of the zone.

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        We have all had a few days to digest Sunday’s trades, but there is still a well of untapped implications.  Here’s a closer look at the forwards involved: both the outgoing Leafs and our lone newcomer.  Be sure to check out Garrett’s excellent pre-game analysis here before tonight’s tilt with the New Jersey Devils.

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          On the heels of Saturday night’s rumour from the Hockey Night in Canada Hot Stove panel that the dealing of pending free agents Matt Stajan and Alexei Ponikarovsky is a virtual certainty, TSN’s Darren Dreger has listed the pair as the fourth and fifth most-likely trade candidates this trade deadline (Stajan followed by Ponikarovsky) as Brian Burke seeks to re-equip his club with picks lost or equivalent prospects.

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            Per the Toronto Star, it appears as though Tyler Bozak may be the latest player to get a shot at centring the Maple Leafs’ top line alongside Phil Kessel and Nik Kulemin, beginning tonight against Carolina.   With Kessel having recorded only 1 goal and 1 assist in his last 12 games, the Leafs are desperately hoping this change may be the tonic required to get their star winger back on track.

            Update: confirmed by am640′s Jonas Siegel.

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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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                Viktor Stalberg has been recalled by the Toronto Maple Leafs today. Stalberg is the leading scorer for the Marlies, with 8 goals and 13 assists for 21 points in 19 games. There are rumors circulating that he will take over Jason Blake’s position on the 2nd line with Mikhail Grabovski and Niklas Hagman. There is also the possibility that Jonas Gustavsson will get one of the Leafs starts in goal as they prepare for 3 games in 4 nights beginning tomorrow night in Buffalo.
                Micheal A. Aldred
                [email protected]

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                  For the second time in a week, the Maple Leafs have felt the wrath of the Boston Bruins on home ice, only this time there were distinct differences from Saturday’s 7-2 beat down.

                  The Leafs, after sleepwalking through two periods of the hockey game, decided to bring their game in the third and made things interesting with goals by Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin to pull them within a goal of the Bruins.  A late, costly penalty by Leafs winger Jason Blake sealed their fate however, as the penalty kill sagged once again, and Mark Recchi scored with under three minutes left to ice the game for the Bruins.

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                    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.  John Tavares scored both goals for the Islanders.

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                      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.