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Almost as impressive as the third period display by the Maple Leafs last night was their ability to storm out of the gate again this afternoon in their second game in less than 24 hours. After a vibrant first frame in which the Leafs should have scored more, the Leafs sat 1-0 up entering the second period of play.
1) The Maple Leafs have slogged through one of the toughest schedules across the league for the month of October, playing only three teams below the .500 mark, and currently sit 4-3-3.
This evening’s 3-2 loss was another tough one to swallow for a Maple Leafs team that largely outfought the Tampa Bay Lightning throughout the course of the game. There appeared to be only one real area where the Maple Leafs fell short in this one… star power. The Tampa Bay Lightning’s Vincent Lecavalier pulled off a few moments of magic which proved decisive. Backstopped by a stingy Mike Smith, the Lightning were sturdy defensively, but on top of their 39 shots on target, the Leafs missed the 6×4 on an inexcusable 19 occasions (believe it or not, only 2 were off the stick of Jason Blake).
Sorry folks, been really busy over the past week or so. Let’s talk some breaking news:
“The Maple Leafs will announce as early as this afternoon that rookie defenceman Luke Schenn will be staying in Toronto and will not be going back to the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL. Teams can hold on to rookies for nine games before their contract as junior-aged players kick in. The 18-year-old Schenn has played well enough to stick with the big team.
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Since the turn of the new millenium, Leaf fans have grown accustomed to seeingÂ aÂ lateÂ twenties’Â Bryan McCabe take charge of what was predominantly a veteran laden defense core. We’d often see him bellowing out orders from the bench, sticking up for his teammates even when it probably wasn’t in his best interest to do so (getting ragdolled by Chara comes to mind), or displaying a sense of passion and heart unmatched by any other Leaf blueliner. On the scoresheet, he was Toronto’s lone all-star defenseman not named Kaberle in recent memory, a 25 minute a night workhorse, and the all-time leader in PP goals among Leaf defensemen. Since the lockout, the Leafs have gone a dismal 11-22-4 without Bryan.
In the ultimate act of callousness by league schedulers, the Maple Leafs will open their regular season account inside the Joe Louis Arena, where they will endure the pre-game banner raising ceremony for the Stanley Cup winning Detroit Red Wings.
The Maple Leafs are ready to set the upcoming season stage for the Detroit Red Wings tonight at the Joe Louis arena and quite a few regulars are ready to pull the jersey back on.
Mark Bell’s career in Toronto seems to be all but over. The 28-year old from Ontario joined the Leafs along with Vesa Toskala at last year’s draft shrouded under the cloud of an impending DUI sentence. With that cleared up this past summer, many Leaf fans hoped for a revival of the Mark Bell that scored 25 goals in Chicago during the 2005-2006 season. However, it was quite evident that Bell never managed to put it together in training camp or in the exhibition games that the Leafs played.
The Leafs waive, demote and start rumors.
The Leafs are looking to put up a strong performance after back to back stable appearances against the defending champs. With a similar roster, it will be interesting to see how Toskala fairs in net behind the crop.
Tank Nation rejoice.
A pattern of close, competitive losses is emerging in Leafland, equating to a 2-5-1 pre-season record.
These performances include bright showings from the team’s youth, hitting, shot blocking and entertaining hockey.
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After dealing away high picks for so many years, it finally looks like one of the NHL’s worst farm systems is beginning to turn the corner these last couple of years.
For the most part, the Leafs’ prospect talent level is very top heavy with a few bluechippers heading this list, followed by an intriguing combination of high potential boom or bust prospects in the lower ranks. The orgainzation’s biggest strengths are its depth at the centre position and generally high skill level among its forwards. The farm system’s weakness occurs on the blueline where there is little to look forward to beyond Schenn and Stralman, particularly if Vorobiev decides not to come over. The general lack of speed in the organization is also a cause a for concern.
In a recent e-mail conversation with Cliff Fletcher, the Maple Leafs general manager suggested that he hopes to put pen to paper with 18-year-old Luke Schenn by early next week.
The debate rages on as to where Schenn should spend the 2007-08 campaign. The initial community sentiment was that another year in Kelowna, where would enjoy a leadership role and ample playing time, was the best option for his development. His pre-season display of steady, consistent performances and composure way beyond his years has certainly put Fletcher in a delicate situation. It’s only been made trickier by the development of some injuries on the Leafs’ back-end.
A few notes on the Leafs recent demotions, Wednesdayâ€™s roster tidbits and a quick review of Monday nightâ€™s affair with the Blues.
A momentum swing in Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins can be largely attributed to a couple of in-game changes orchestrated by bench-boss Ron Wilson.
The starting first line of Mikhail Grabovski, Nik Antropov and Alexei Ponikarovsky proved ineffectual in the first frame and rookie Nik Kulemin wasn’t clicking with line-mates Nik Hagman and Alex Steen. The team failed to generate anything in the way of offense until late in the third, when Wilson’s ad hoc lines began to fire, mounting a near come-back with two goals in quick succession.
My post-game notes from tonight’s 3-2 loss inside Mellon Arena:
-Some promising individual performances, but the chemistry amongst many of the lines was lacking.
-All three goals were avoidable. If Anton Stralman and Josef Boumedienne were facing up ice when playing the cross-crease passes there wouldn’t have been an issue. It just seemed to be a freak incident when Stralman lost his footing on the third marker and Kaberle’s jumping of the gun in heading up ice gave the Pens a 2 on 0 situation.
From Micheal Aldred…
The Toronto Maple Leafs will be watching Luke Schenn with intensity tonight as the rookie is ready to show the world what he can do against arguably the best in the world in Evgeni Malkin. Not far behind him will goalie Justin Pogge be looking to do the same thing. Tonight, however, there will be a stronger cast on the ice for the buds.
It certainly seemed like a new era tonight in the ACC as a much more motivated and industrious Leafs team took to the ice and out-played the Buffalo Sabres in a 7-4 win for the new-look Blue and White.
Neither team could honestly say they put forth the best they could offer, but that’s the nature of these early pre-season games. It still can be said that there were some promising signs from a Leafs stand-point.
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Theyâ€™re out there. Everywhere you look.
The predictions that place the Leafs anywhere from 10th to 14th in the Eastern conference for the upcoming NHL season. Most hockey pundits are not giving the Maple Leafs much of a shot at a playoff spot, and based on recent history with the club, they have every reason not to.
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It wasnâ€™t more than a year ago that head coach Paul Maurice announced his team would make the playoffs and compete for the Stanley Cup. Players such as Simon Gamache and Tony Salmelainen were recruited from Europe by general manager John Ferguson Jr. and provided solid try outs. Colaiacovo was announced to not be in full form for the season opener, which we later discovered he would not be ready until late December, after arthroscopic knee surgery and an awkward fall in a pre-season practice after attempting a slap shot.
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