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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?
The Maple Leafs deserved better in tonight’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Dallas Stars. It was frustrating to see another strong effort come up short. The Leafs really need to start pulling out some of these close games if they want to get back into contention.
They can’t afford to lose those games “that they deserved to win,” because it doesn’t seem like they are good enough to win the games “they should have lost.” Take a look at the Montreal Canadiens; 5 of the their 6 wins this have come in overtime or shootout. Instead of being 6-6-0, the Habs could easily be 1-6-5. However, they’ve found ways to pull out those close games. I hate to say it, but it’s a sign of a better team.
No truer words ring out to the ears of the throng of fans and particularly management of the Leafs victory over the current GM’s former organization.
And it took Alice in Chains to create them.
Cali, you’re alright …..
… they didn’t give up the fight.
Maple Leafs’ fans should be very pleased with the effort displayed in last night’s 3-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks. Â Although another loss is disappointing on the surface, there is much to feel good about in regard to the team’s play following a week’s break. Â It is not often that one can look at a loss as a game to instill confidence; however, last night’s game should serve to do exactly that, among both players and fans alike.
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.
I often have to deal with a lot of commentary that seems when the Leafs skid, becomes more and more of the ‘I told you so’ variety. I don’t get many ‘hey great job’ comments when things are going well, however. With this six-game funk, there’s a boatload. But a couple made me think about why Schenn should be a candidate to sit on Saturday night.
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.
The Maple Leafs continued their shaping of the NHL roster with another four cuts on Sunday. Top prospect Nazem Kadri will be going back to the OHL’s London Knights, Jonas Frogren and Christian Hanson will report to the Toronto Marlies, and Andy Rogers has been released. By my count, that leaves 30 players left (including Kessel who will be placed on the long-term injured reserve), meaning there will be another 6 cuts in the near future.
The following are the team lineups as per MapleLeafs.com. It does feature the kid line of Bozak, Stalberg and Hanson, but they are separated. Curious if that will remain the same for tonight’s affair in order to see what they can all do with other players.
The following are the lineups for both teams tonight. The Leafs are going to get a closer look at their top 4 defensive pairings and check out the rest of the young guns competing for jobs.
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 infamous Brian Burke “stamp” that has become his signature since his times in Hartford, Vancouver and Anaheim arrived in Toronto yesterday in the form of Phil Kessel and at the expense of the club’s next two first round draft picks and this year’s second round pick. Any time a general manager moves not one but two first round draft picks, it constitutes a major future-shaping decision and one that will ultimately play a major part in defining the legacy of his regime. Yesterday we were reaffirmed of one increasingly apparent fact about Brian Burke’s rebuild – it’s not your traditional model. We’ve seen over the course of the last three months – from June to September – Burke aggressively pursue all available avenues to try to position his club as a contender in the short and long term. Certainly, the 2009-10 campaign just got a whole lot more interesting.
I read an article in the Toronto Star the other day, in which Damien Cox suggests that the Maple Leafs weren’t as soft of a club as many believe last season, due mostly to the fact that the Leafs were tied for 13th in the NHL regarding fighting misconducts, and were 15th overall when it came to penalty minutes. The point was to demonstrate that the club was average in terms of team toughness, not the soft club many of us and Brian Burke believe.
Leafs coach, Ron Wilson made it clear, Nazem Kadri will not be getting a nine-game audition this season, just to be sent down to the OHL London Knights. Answering questions in the media scrum after the scrimmage at training camp in the Mastercard Centre of Hockey Excellence, Wilson was adamant about being against an audition for the young pivot. In order to stick with the Leafs, the 1st round pick in the 2009 draft will have to beat out one of Mikhail Grabovski, or Matt Stajan for a top-6 role in order to stick, and as of Wilson right now, both are â€˜way aheadâ€™ of Kadri for a spot at the moment.
Kadri will get every opportunity to earn a top-6 spot, but unless he completely overwhelms, expect to see him in London for the entire season.
More notes from Training Camp, Day 2.
The Maple Leafs began on-ice workouts today at their new practice facility, the Mastercard Centre for Hockey Excellence.
Iâ€™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 â€¦
Leafs-related news has slowed to a crawl during the final weeks of the offseason, and this year’s summer movie scene has been rather unspectacular. Â I propose a cure for both maladies:Â a hockey movie to fill the void of a puck-deprived offseason, complete with all the excitement of a sports flick and all the truculence of an action blockbuster.
And so, without further ado, here is the game-day casting call for your 2009-10 Toronto Maple Leafs.
A tip o’ the hat to Don over at Mondesi’s House for the inspiration.
Now that we’re nearing the start of the season, Luke Schenn is entering sophomore jinx season. Many players have fallen into this category, but based on the level of talent he was matched up against last season, it’s difficult to imagine him being bitten by this curse. In order to really appreciate what Schenn brings to the club for this season, we must look back at all he has done last year. Here’s a look at my top 5 Luke Schenn moments of 2008-09.
Adnan Virk of Leafs TV recently caught up with GM Brian Burke for a brief chat and in his latest blog on mapleleafs.com, dishes out a few very revealing and interesting tidbits. Among the hot topics of discussion are: Burke’s projected top six defense core (including a few surprises), his expectations and hopes for Alexei Ponikarovsky, and the possibility of the Leafs ’09 7th overall pick Nazem Kadri cracking the roster out of training camp.
Author: B Leaf
Last season, the Leafs were 10th in scoring (244) and 9th in shots on goal (2,603). There is no major reason why that number should drop other than the loss of Antropov. There are other players who should have better years and help fill his ice time with similar results. On the powerplay, the Leafs were middle of the road at 16th. The Leafs were a respectable 17th in shots allowed (2481), but were a league worst in goals against (286). The PK% was also a league worst. Not all the blame can be placed on the goaltending, but a lot of it can. The collective save percentage for the team was an abysmal .885%.
Aside from the occasional hardcore junior hockey followers, the majority of NHL fans will track the progress of their team’s top young prospects through highlight clips or boxscores. For the most part, the development and potential NHL impact of a young player then becomes a function of the amount of goals and assists they record at that level. I mean heck, it’s hard for Islanders fans to look at the 356 points that John Tavares has scored over the past 3 seasons in the OHL without getting excited. And rightfully so. All indications are that he’s going to be a very special player for a long, long time.
On the flip side, you’ve also got the purists who value a keen scouting eye to judge traits such as leadership ability, instincts, emotional drive, among other skills that cannot be represented numerically. Back in March, when news spread of Tavares breaking the all-time OHL goal scoring record held by Peter Lee, the first reaction by many was “Who the heck is Peter Lee?” Just some guy who scored 81 goals and 161 points in his last junior season is all… Well, point taken. Stats and numbers don’t mean everything, but the question is: how much DO they mean?
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