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Update: John Mitchell will step in for Kris Versteeg on the second line, who can’t go tonight due to a sore back. Should be interesting to see if Mitchell can bring some size and forecheck/board play ability to that line. Mike Zigomanis will line up at fourth line centre.
Are the Maple Leafs’ winning ways back in front of them? Has their controversial victory over the Florida Panthers moved the club back into a mean streak? The scoring is certainly present for forward Phil Kessel, but the Leafs still need to stay aggressive in the offensive zone. Tonight, they’ll face their biggest challenge (in goal) as Tim Thomas leads the league in both goals against average (0.75) and save percentage (0.978). Thomas has yet to lose a game this season and the Leafs will hope to put a dent in that stat in particular. Thomas has played a large part of it (he’s undefeated at 4-0 whereas Rask is 0-2 so far) but the Bruins’ stingy defence boasts the lowest goals against per game total (1.83) in the league six games into the season.
Tonight, the Toronto Maple Leafs will play host to the New York Islanders as they search for the fifth straight win to open the season. The Islanders are searching for their first road win of the season and hope to earn it tonight by crashing the Leafs’ winning party. The Leafs’ fifth win of the season last year came November 23rd and was accompanied by eighteen losses in regulation and overtime. J.S. Giguere is back between the posts while Brett Lebda sees his first action of the regular season in place of the shaky Carl Gunnarsson.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are set to visit the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight at the Consol Energy Arena. The Penguins have yet to win at home this season and get another opportunity to erase that stat tonight against a Leafs team that is hoping to remain undefeated. Jonas Gustavsson will get his first start between the pipes according to Sportsnet.
Darcy Tucker has officially called it a career. “After spending the whole summer anticipating I would play, it got to a point where I knew it was time.”
“I just knew, during workouts I didn’t have that same feeling,” Tucker told TSN, “and I needed to be fair with my family.”
Image c/o J.P. Nikota / PensionPlanPuppets.com
“Being a kid growing up just outside Toronto, you always want to play for your team you watched growing up, and Toronto’s my team.”
It was one of the last things Andrew Engelage said after a lengthy discussion at the Ricoh Coliseum, but it definitely resonated the loudest.
There’s nothing quite like the story of the home-grown athlete. Everyone likes asking Oakville’s John Mitchell what it’s like to put on the Leafs sweater every day, or trying to find some way to relate to Jesse Blacker’s being drafted by his local club. But when adversity is thrown into the mix, when a player has to go through some degree of hardship to make it to not only the level he wants to be, but for the team he wants to play for, that’s when a story becomes a best seller.
As you all know, or may not know, Tomas Kaberle will remain a Toronto Maple Leafs. Whether he is still a Maple Leaf beyond this season is another question all together, and likely a long and awfully boring road. Regardless, here is Brian Burke’s statement:
The hockey club confirms this evening that Tomas Kaberle remains a Leaf. While a number of Clubs made offers to trade for Tomas, none of them reflected Tomas’s value to our team. I understand a period like this is stressful to the player, and we are pleased that there is a resolution, and we can all continue to prepare for the coming season.
Brian Burke stated this morning, “if these offers are all we get, he is staying put,” in regards to the Tomas Kaberle trade watch. It has put many fans on their heels as they await a trade, but it should be known that this statement could be nothing more than a trade tactic.
The Tomas Kaberle trade watch is now in effect with only 36 hours to go until this situation concludes. The rumor mill is running rampant with some high profile names and some future fan favorites, but let's dive into who is being mentioned as possible blue and white sweater bearers.
$12.99, 128 pages, no ads, all Leafs.
The Maple Street Press Maple Leafs Annual is back for it’s second edition, jam packed with even more Leafs coverage, analysis and inside access than the year before. Preorders will ship on August 17 and include a $5.00 shipping charge. Yes, Kaberle remained a Leaf by the final deadline, because apparently it was just SO out of the way for Burke to deal him at our convenience. It matters not, just read some of these highlights:
Detailed player by player scouting information, advanced statistics and innovative statistical graphics for the 2010-11 roster
An interview with GM Brian Burke on change and the outlook for 2010-11
A look at the controversial legacy of 1960s Leafs head coach Punch Imlach, with reflections from Leaf greats Johnny Bower, Red Kelly, Dick Duff, Larry Hillman & more
A position by position look at the 2010-11 Leafs roster
The inside scoop on the Leafs’ 2010 off-season additions, organizational philosophy and evaluation with Leafs Vice President of Hockey Operations Dave Poulin
A review of the 2010 draft with the perspective of Leafs head scout Dave Morrison
Statistical analysis of the importance of first round picks: can the Leafs go their own way?
Analysis of the Leafs’ cap situation with looks at the constitution of past Cup winners
A Nazem Kadri feature (including thoughts from Morrison and director of player development Jim Hughes) & list of the Leafs’ Top Prospects in Fall 2010 & Darkhorses
An interview with potential sixth round steal Jerry D’Amigo
- An in-depth look at the Marlies’ season that was and will be with thoughts from head coach Dallas Eakins, Poulin, Jay Rosehill and Tim Brent
- Projections for the Leafs offense and defense
- An in-depth, goalie-by-goalie scouting evaluation of Leaf netminders (Gustavsson, Giguere, Scrivens, Reimer, Rynnas) with The Goalie Guild’s Justin Goldman
- Takes on how new media is changing coverage of the team with thoughts from MLSE social media strategist Jonathan Sinden
Ensure yourself a copy of the Maple Leafs Annual here. Take the jump for a full list of authors – the best of the best from across the Barilkosphere and beyond.
It was no less than two months ago that I was pondering this same question, that of captaincy, and examining the same factors. Thinking of all the tangibles â€“ speed, talent and scoring â€“ along with attributes that are harder to judge â€“ the ability to command the respect of the team, lead with strength of character and handle the Toronto media through success and failure. The lone difference is that last time, it was the Leafs.
The Toronto Star continues to shine a light on the Kaberle front. According to Brian Burke, he has “four concrete offers” on the table and seems to be rather confident he can land a first round pick. That said, the Toronto Sun suggest that of the six teams interested in Kaberle’s services, the Ducks have expressed the strongest interest.
According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, Leafs vice president of hockey operations Dave Nonis is on the verge of agreeing to terms with the organization on a contract extension that will see him stay in Toronto at least through the 2011-2012 season.
For the last several weeks, it’s been rumored that Nonis was among the top candidates on the shortlist for Tampa Bay’s vacant GM position, but he has now apparently pulled out of the running. Looks like Brian Burke gets to keep his right hand man for the foreseeable future. Nice signing.
The news that the Tampa Bay Lightning have Dave Nonis at the top of their shortlist for general manager candidates was perhaps an instance of the inevitable. If Tampa or Nonis deem it not a right fit, we can only expect more of the same from other owners looking to fill vacant general manager positions.
It was reported at the time of Nonis’ signing that a one-year clause was included to assure Nonis’ services belonged to the Leafs for 2009-10 at a minimum. When Nonis’ contractual obligation ends is unclear, but from Joe Nieuwendyk to Steffan Kronwall to Justin Pogge, it’s clear Burke will never step in the way of an employee’s desire to advance professionally.
But not all hope is lost. First, let’s look at what the Leafs have in Nonis, and hopefully what they don’t end up losing.
With the final bell about to ring season most fans would be happy to forget – although the impending draft all but dictates they most assuredly will not – the Maple Leafs will officially enter the offseason five campaigns removed from the playoffs at the conclusion of Saturday night’s game in Montreal.
Unlike previous years, however, this season has revealed to fans — amidst the rubble of far too many losses — a silver lining of sorts: the promise of youth.
Note: If you crave insightful, indepth Leafs’ analysis, I highly encourage you to read RSW’s excellent article on Victor Stalberg.
This past Saturday, Brian Burke was a guest on “Leafs Lunch” (am 640) and spoke at length about the status of injured defenseman Mike Van Ryn.
Van Ryn, as you know, underwent career-threatening surgery as a result of a structural anomaly in his left knee.Â The surgery, an osteotomy (known throughout hockey circles as “Steve Yzerman surgery”), is a complex procedure in which the knee is realigned via the removal of part of the bone.Â Van Ryn has since resumed skating, but whether or not he will be able to resume his NHL career remains, at this point, unknown.
Brian Burke has done an outstanding job of refacing the Leafs organization in a very short period of time.Â I for one am predicting a very surprising season from the Leafs as early as next year or the year after, once again propelling them into the playoffs and a very respectable playoff drive.Â The cumulative effort of acquiring several players and prospects that are “NHL ready” is absolutely and positively an impressive feat.Â Acquiring a player with the pedigree of Dion Phaneuf for almost zero significant cost was sheer brilliance.Â His relentless pursuit of, and ultimate acquisitions of players like Bozak, Hanson and Gustavsson inspire the type of confidence and hope that has been lacking in this city and in this franchise for almost a decade.
The Toronto Maple Leafs visit the St. Louis Blues tonight, in the Leafs’ final game prior to the NHL’s Olympic break.
The Leafs are coming off a narrow loss to the West-leading San Jose Sharks, a game which left the team with much to feel good about. Â Tonight, the team will look to resolve their road woes and enter the break on a high note, by capitalizing on what has been an inconsistent and underachieving Blues squad.
I would first like state that I am addressing this rumor because it is, in fact, circulating around the league that Toronto is interested in the Atlanta Thrashers’ sniper Ilya Kovalchuk. Yes, this rumor did come to light due to an Eklund blog, but no, it is not fake. In fact, every team in the league would love to get their hands on Kovalchuk. So there you have it, the rumor is true, but it was an easy one to pinpoint by Eklund because every single team in the league understands that Kovalchuk is available, and every single team in the league would love to have him on their powerplay. It’s as simple as that. Now to the non-obvious part.
Happy Boxing Day, hockey fans!
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?
Now, onto the Leafs-Habs preview:
After recovering from the initial shock of the Leafs trading yet another highly rated, potentially top end prospect (Tlusty in this case) for picks, prospects (Paradis in this case) or players who at best can be defined as “depth” acquisitions, I decided to sit back, absorb all of the feedback and coverage from this transaction and form an opinion based on rational thought processes and any available factual information.Â Past my initial, oh no, here we go again feeling, I was uncertain as to my actual opinion on this deal.Â After all, I have never seen the young Paradis play, knew very little about this prospect, and the only information I had available was that he was a late 1st round pick in last years entry draft.Â So, I decided to err on the side of caution and keep my initial opinion on this transaction to myself.Â After researching this prospect, reading the various scouting reports and watching some film, it became rather apparent that Mr Burke had traded a potential top 6 type of sniper for a 3rd-4th line character guy.Â Someone who was physical, had speed, was fearless and could become a real heart and soul leader on an NHL roster one day.Â Considering the intangibles this player could potentially bring down the road, I was willing to overlook the obvious imaginary offensive upside Mr Burke was touting with this prospect and the projections of a top 6 “power forward” type in the NHL and was settling in with a comfortable neutral, “Wait and See” decision on this transaction.
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