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Jeff Finger


    With Kessel and Gustavsson integrating themselves into the lineup, the team seems poised to break off a big-time run to put themselves back into the Eastern Conference’s playoff picture. The team is playing very well of late and continued to build on that with an impressive 5-1 victory at home against the Detroit Red Wings on Hall of Fame night.

    Update: During post-game media scrum, Wilson says Komisarek’s injury not serious.


      Jonas Gustavsson.  Phil Kessel.  Matt Stajan.  (Ok that last one was just to mess with you).  The Leafs continued their point streak and began a hopefully lengthy run of wins with a victory over the visiting Red Wings tonight.  It was an admirable performance across the board tonight as followers of this Maple Leafs squad hover in a state of trepid excitement.  One thing we can be sure about is that Gustavsson has given us a level of goaltending not seen in these parts for quite a while.


        The Toronto Maple Leafs are back on the road tonight with a matchup against fellow Eastern bottomer Carolina Hurricanes. It will be a weekend of back to back games for the Leafs as they head home on Saturday to play host to the Detroit Red Wings (a game I will be liveblogging). But there is a significant question at hand for the Leafs heading into tonight’s game: Can a team aiming for the playoffs beat the worst team in the league?


          Couple of intriguing tidbits from HB/ESPN’s Andy Strickland: Defenseman Jeff Finger WANTS to be sent down to the AHL to save a few bucks? Are the Leafs planning to place forward Jamal Mayers on waivers soon?


            Five games in, no wins, and few positives within the play to indicate a turnaround is coming soon.

            Something has to be done to shake up this roster.   Some sort of move needs to be made, that much is clear.

            The question is, what?


              The Rangers are riding a 4 game win streak, the Leafs are not. The Rangers have a goal differential of +8 in their last 4 games, the Leafs have a goal differential of -6 in their last 3 games. The Rangers are 5th in the league on the PK (88%), while the Leafs are last (53.8%). The Rangers are 4th in the league for goals against per game (2.00). The Leafs are tied in last place with Florida at 4.25.


                To generate some discussion, Capitals blogger Steven Hindle threw out an interesting trade idea involving the Toronto Maple Leafs: Michael Nylander. Yes, he’s old (turns 37 in about two weeks). Yes, he’s coming off a brutal 33 point season. Yes, he’s carrying a ridiculous $4.875M cap hit for the next two seasons. But, there is no denying the history of talent and production, including 199 points in 200 games from 2005-2007. Perhaps there is a possible trade fit involving the exchange of some undesirable contracts?


                  After watching the first four pre-season games, I’ve noticed a few players stand out while others have sunk into a state of mediocre play. This is my brief evaluation of the players we no longer need, including my own opening night roster preview. I look forward to reviewing all of your own opening night rosters compared to the way I view the brand new Maple Leafs.


                    The following is both teams lineups for tonight:

                    Joey MacDonald
                    James Reimer

                    Viktor Stalberg – Matt Stajan – Robert Slaney
                    Jason Blake – Jason Allison – Jiri Tlusty
                    Alex Foster – Tim Brent – Bill Thomas
                    Jamal Mayers – John Mitchell – Darryl Boyce
                    *Kyle Rogers may play

                    Garnet Exelby – Ian White
                    Jeff Finger – Juraj Mikus
                    Carl Gunnarson – Andy Rogers


                      The Maple Leafs began on-ice workouts today at their new practice facility, the Mastercard Centre for Hockey Excellence.

                      I’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 …


                         Jeff Finger’s name may be rampant with tireless innuendo, but few Leafs fans were laughing when interim GM Cliff Fletcher tied the unknown, but apparently much coveted Colorado Avalanche defenseman to a four year, $14 million contract in the summer of 2008.

                        Working out at $3.5 million a year, the ultra late developing Finger went from no name, to fifth highest earner on the blue ribbon Leafs payroll creating a maelstrom of discontent amongst fans that remains to this day.

                        From full term college player and three year AHL blue liner with only 94 games of (then) experience in the big leagues, Finger quickly became synonymous as the “man with the contract,” reddening faces further still in the land of blue and white where the overpay became talk of free agency.


                          Today was the deadline for Tomas Kaberle’s NTC lift, and he is still a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs. While some fans were demanding for an immediate rebuild with some youth in return for a trade for Kaberle, others notice how strong the current Leafs defense core has the potential to be and are curious to see how Kaberle can perform with a physical presence around him. Brian Burke is among those who are interested. “I look forth to seeing what Tomas can do with a little more size and toughness around him when he’s not picking his teeth out of the glass all night.”


                            The Maple Leafs finished as the league’s worst defensive team last season, giving up an astounding 286 goals, which works out to about 3.5 goals against a game. As such, much of the team’s summer remodeling took place on the blueline, which saw the departure of Kubina and the additions of shutdown defensemen  Beauchemin and Komisarek. With nearly $20M dollars committed per season through 2011 to the group of Kaberle, Komisarek, Beauchemin, Schenn and Finger, and Tomas being the only player above the age of 30, it appears on paper at least, that this will be the core of the defense for the foreseeable future. If that’s the case, how do they stack up against the rest of the league?


                              … you’ve got to lay the foundation.

                              The house is the main attraction; it catches the eye and makes people want to stop and look.  But it is the foundation that holds it together at the core, and keeps it from sinking into the ground.

                              Brian Burke has taken major steps towards building that foundation for the Toronto Maple Leafs, with his offseason moves thus far.


                                Let’s take a break from the rumour mill, and have a look at where the Toronto Maple Leafs roster currently stands.

                                With the draft a little over a month away, and free agency beginning shortly thereafter, it’s time to take a look at the current Maple Leafs’ roster, who is and is not under contract for next season, and the resultant depth at each position.


                                  Now that the 2008-09 regular season has officially ended, it’s time to take a look back over the roster to assess each of the Maple Leafs’ players.

                                  Note that I’m only including players who finished the season with at least one game played for the Maple Leafs, and am excluding those traded away during the course of the season.

                                  Statistics for those who were acquired mid-season reflect games played as members of the Maple Leafs only.


                                    As the goals against continue to pile up, so do the questions regarding the Toronto Maple Leafs’ future between the pipes. Last night’s 7-5 drubbing at the hands of the Boston Bruins officially moved the Leafs to the basement of the NHL in terms of goaltending and defensive play with an astounding total of 274 goals allowed (3.41 GAA). Combine that with a league worst 88.4% save percentage and you’ve got some serious issues. The team directly above them? Andrew Raycroft and the Colorado Avalanche. Ugh.


                                      Remember the way back in the day when the “Can’t Beat Cujo” signs filled the ACC on those passionate, rambunctious (always wanted to use this word) Saturday nights? Well tonight, we got a brief glimpse of the glory days as Joseph turned in a magnificient performance down the stretch to steal a point away from Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals.


                                        During the post-game news conference following the shootout victory over the Rangers, coach Ron Wilson acknowledged that Jeff Finger and John Mitchell, injured during the game, are “99%” unlikely to play against the Islanders on Thursday.

                                        To take their places, Anton Stralman and Tim Stapleton have been recalled.


                                          John Mitchell capturing fastest skater honours was the revelation of today’s team skills competition. I could’ve predicted the team with Jason Blake and Dominic Moore would’ve won the event but I’m surprised Mitchell clocked in with the best individual time. Here’s the team press release containing the results: