(On the road … so here is a quick thread for tonight’s action.)
The Toronto Maple Leafs (21-33-12), who are coming off a hard-fought overtime win over the Boston Bruins, are host to the Tampa Bay Lightning (27-27-11), tonight at 7pm.
The Leafs, who are all but officially out of the playoff race, are playing for jobs next season. To that end, the young players on the roster have put together a string of impressive efforts, and if their resilient play continues, few players will anonymously refer to them as an “AHL team”.
They’re not only funny, but legendary. True comedic (and patriotic) genius.
I was proud to add a prospect scouting report to his creative visuals for a Tuesday Prospect Report. Leading up to the draft in June, we’ll be looking at a Leafs prospect in a unique way. the first one features newest Leaf, Luca Caputi originally on the Bloge Salming site.
A reminder, I will be Live blogging the Leafs/Bruins game from the ACC press box tonight. Make sure to come on by and have some fun with all of us at Maple Leafs Hot Stove. Jonas Gustavsson gets the start and according to MLHS’s own Daniel Santos Mikhail Grabovski also returns to the lineup from a wrist injury.
Fresh off last night’s hard-hitting victory over the Ottawa Senators, the Maple Leafs face another physical game tonight as they visit the Philadelphia Flyers.
Tonight’s game will be the fourth in six nights for a Toronto squad which has undergone some significant changes in the past week. The Leafs will enter the game physically tired, but mentally inspired following Saturday’s victory over Ottawa and a terrific effort in a shootout loss to the Boston Bruins on Thursday night.
Earlier today on a certain Toronto radio show, a grim portrait of Jonas Gustavsson’s future was painted, citing the 32 games he has appeared in so far in his career – most of those starts behind a lacklustre team – as evidence that he may never develop into the sort of goaltender the Leafs envisioned when signing him out of the Swedish Elite League.
The crux of the argument was that 32 games should be enough for Gustavsson to have shown some ability to adapt to goaltending coach Francois Allaire’s techniques, and that at 25 years of age it may be too late for him to make the necessary adjustments for NHL success.
In the wake of Sunday’s blockbuster trades, one cannot help but wonder what’s next for the Toronto Maple Leafs? Who’s next to go? Who stays?
In any case, I think that it’s pretty safe to say that this season is a write-off. We’re not making any moves to make a run at the playoffs this season. So, let’s look forward and take a look at what the Maple Leafs should look like next season.
Tonight, the Toronto Maple Leafs play host to the Los Angeles Kings. Fortunately for the Leafs, they are back at home where they have a better record (9-10-5) than when playing as the visitors (8-16-5) this season. Unfortunately for the Leafs, the Kings have a better away record (15-10-1) than they do when playing as the host team (14-9-2)… also Kopitar. Yeah.
Tonight at 7:00, the Toronto Maple Leafs will visit the Florida Panthers in a battle against former Maple Leaf, Bryan McCabe, and his Panthers. Also, Brian Burke addressed the media regarding his outlook towards the remainder of the season, as well as what has been highly regarded as a “double deadline” year with the Olympic break and the trade deadline.
One of the more enigmatic problems facing Brian Burke in an summer that will see much of the contemporary Buds negligible talent headed for the door, is the impending contract crunch ofÂ now go-toÂ starter Jonas Gustavsson. Touted by many as the best netminder outside of the NHL last season, Gustavsson has shown exciting, if fleeting moments of the form that earned him widespread acclaim backstopping last seasonâ€™s Elitserien champions Farjestads BK.
Unfortunately, Gustavssonâ€™s dominant play in the SEL has failed to translate on a consistent basis in the NHL and much of the season many saw as the coronation of a new number one has been overshadowed by a significant heart problem. Supraventricular tachycardia aside, Gustavssonâ€™s woes in the aftermath of his worrisome sidelining have seemingly stemmed from a crisis of confidence borne out of the inconsistent, Jekyll and Hyde defense, The Monster has had to deal with on a night by night basis, as well as the organizationsÂ early and now aborted attemptsÂ at blooding Vesa Toskala as trade bait.
The Toronto Maple Leafs just can’t seem to do anything right. The Maple Leafs surrendered another lead in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Maple Leafs fell to 1-10 in games decided beyond regulation and more specifically, 0-8 in overtime.
Some surprisingly good special teams had the Leafs ahead 2-1 late in the third, but a couple of 4-on-3 power-plays stemming from bad penalties resulted in the tying and winning goals for the Lightning.
After last night’s impressive 4-0 victory over the Flyers, the Maple Leafs will attempt to build some momentum tonight versus the Capitals in Washington.
Surprisingly, the Maple Leafs, who have allowed a league-high 164 goals, have won two straight against the Capitals, who lead the league with 171 goals. However, the Caps won their only home game against the Leafs early in the season.
The Toronto Maple Leafs, spiralling of late with a 2-7-1 record in their past 10 games, will to right the ship at home tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers.Â Â The Leafs will also be looking for revenge in this matchup, having been on the receiving end of a 6-2 thrashing at the hands of the Flyers only a week ago.
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. Â Â 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.
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.
The Leafs face up against their old bench boss Pat Quinn tonight hoping to get back on a winning streak of some sort.Â The big lineup change seems to be a demotion for Grabovski to the fourth line.Â Rickard Wallin benefits from Mikhail’s demotion with a undeserved look on the second line.
Jonas Gustavsson’s roller coaster ride through the very early part of his NHL career hit another high Sunday when he was named a backup goalie for Sweden’s entry into the Vancouver Olympics.
Said Gustavsson, upon learning of his selection:
“It’s an honour, it will be my first time at an Olympics … the Olympics are one of the greatest things you can be in.”
Congratulations to the Monster on this great achievement, as he joins a team that many predict will be a lock to reach the final stages of the tournament. Â Sweden versus Canada in the Final could be a definite possibility — imagine that!
It’s a great day for hockey here in Leafland. Â The World Junior Championship Tournament, featuring the Leafs’ highly-touted Nazem Kadri, officially gets underway this afternoon as Canada takes on Latvia. Â Following the tournament opener, we are in for a treat Leafs take on their long-standing rival, the Montreal Canadiens. Â And for those who are able to remain awake after all the holiday parties of the past two days, the Edmonton Oilers will visit the Vancouver Canucks in what should be a typical Saturday night Western Conference barn-burner. Â Does it get any better?