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).
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.
Submitted by Michael Stephens (a.k.a.Â Baumgartner)
Apparently Sidney Crosby still lives with Mario Lemieux. Anyone else find that weird? Dude, youâ€™re almost 23. Youâ€™ve got a Stanley cup ring, an Olympic gold medal, an 8.7 million dollar per year salary (to say nothing of the endorsements). Damn man, move out already. But I digress...
Submitted by Michael Stephens (a.k.a. Baumgartner)
The Toronto Maple Leafs have the Leagueâ€™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.
As the playoff hopes gradually continue to fade for even the most optimistic of fans, the focal point of the Maple Leafs over the last few weeks has been on the stellar play of several key young players. Bozak, Kulemin and Kessel have been dynamic and dangerous in spurts as the team's first line, building chemistry together and showing real signs of promise. Caputi, Hanson and Stalberg are giving indications that they could be part of a solid supporting cast someday, with strong board play, good size and tenacity in chasing down loose pucks. On the back end, Gunnarsson has been nothing short of a tremendous surprise, coming in mid-year as a 23 year old rookie, but playing with the poise of a 10-year veteran in over 21 minutes a night. But today, the focus will be on the more subtle progression of a another young blueliner who is reminding Toronto fans why the team took him with its highest draft selection in 20 years. [more…]
KULEMIN with the game winner, and that's all folks!!! Leafs win 4-3 in a thrilling overtime victory!
Now, wasn't that an appropriate Torontosaurus Rex?!
That was the Leafs first OT victory of the season. (1-9)
It feels like a spring day, almost like a playoff date.
This isn't a playoff game by any stretch .. There are some interesting scenarios playing out even before puck drop.
Here's the game thread ... you can also follow along on Twitter, @KatsHockey
This is the first game At home for newest Leaf, Luca Caputi (Now with his first goal as a Leaf!!).
This is the first game after the devastating hit my Matt Cooke taking out Savard.
This is the first game At home that will not feature Alex Ponikarovsky as a Leaf.
This is the first game in which Phil Kessel scores his first point as a Leaf against his former club (maybe) ... (Yes! After a change in scoring on the second goal, he got his first assist versus his old team)
The Leafs have given up powerplay markers in consecutive games after going five games without letting in a power play goal.
Despite being one season removed from having won the Vezina Trophy this is the second consecutive start for Tim Thomas I the last games.
And the Puck has dropped .. I'll be refreshing about every 10-15 minutes
Look, I'm not saying I'm a good luck charm, but I attend the game in the press box and a whole lot of good happens .. Caputi's first as a Bud, Kessel registering his first assist .. Just call me lucky Kats.
End of Regulation 3-3
Two Leafs players have food poisoning, so Nazem Kadri is an emergency call up for tonight's game. No word as of what line he will be playing on just yet, but one thing is for sure: this will be an interesting sneak peak at what Kadri and Kessel could bring to the club next season.
Random talking points on a variety of topics including Giguere's shutout streak, a refreshing new attitude, the Schenn/Phaneuf connection, pending UFAs and more.
Pretty obvious choice this week, with two shutout wins making history after poured into Leafs silks.
J.S. Giguere stabilized the crease with immediate impact in a record setting arrival. The NHL draped him with second star of the week honours. Heâ€™s been rewarded and praised.
So, I'm going off the board.
The Carolina Hurricanes are closing in on a deal with the San Jose Sharks for Niclas Wallin, while Leafs fans were begging it was Rickard. Kovalchuk turns down $101M, while the Rangers pull out of the sweepstakes due to the asking price. Find out what the Thrashers wanted in return. Also, Dion Phaneuf has his own plan for the remainder of the Leafs regular season.
Dion Phaneuf was far and away the biggest name exchanging teams in the Toronto-Calgary deal on Sunday morning, and as a result, young defenseman Keith Aulie may have gotten a little overlooked in the shuffle. But make no mistake about it: Aulie was a significant piece in this trade for Brian Burke and the huge, imposing blueliner should figure prominently in the Maple Leafs' defensive core of the future. Let's take a look at what the newest Maple Leafs' prospect could bring to the table in a few years time. [more…]
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. [more…]