Ron Wilson appears to have assembled a winning combination up front. After an 8-5 beating at the hands of the Boston Bruins, Wilson re-united the line of Nik Antropov, Matt Stajan and Alexei Ponikarovsky atop the roster, kept in tact the dynamic third line of Jason Blake, Dominic Moore and Jeremy Williams and it’s resulted in two dominating wins by a collective score of 13-5. For the first time since early October, the Leafs have surpassed the .500 mark at 14-13-6 after winning five of their last six.
Mats – firstly, you’ve made me look like a total sap having torn my heart out when staunchly defending your decision last March. Personally, that makes me more than a little bit pissed off (but I understand, I’ll explain later).
Random thoughts, 23 games in:
Matt Stajan is the leading scorer on the Leafs. Let me repeat that: Matt Stajan is the leading scorer on the Leafs, and is on pace for close to 70 points this season. One of the great unheralded results of a rebuilding project is the chance to see former role players excel in new roles, and Stajan has certainly proved that he is more than simply an effective checker and penalty-killer.
Today was the long-awaited day when Brian Burke was finally introduced to the Toronto media and fanbase. Highlighted below are several important quotes that stuck out to me as I listened to Burke outline his plans for building a championship calibre team here in the capital of the Hockey Universe:
Cox reporting for the Star, says the deal is pretty much done:
“The wait is over. Brian Burke is set to become the new president and general manager of the Maple Leafs. With only a few final details to be sorted out, none of which are viewed as deal-breakers, the deal is all but done.
Ed. Note: Richard-Steven Williams, a UK-based NHL and European hockey enthusiast, will be joining the MLHS blogging team.
It’s fantastic to have Richard aboard, he’s an immense talent.
Here’s his piece on Ron Wilson from a week ago.
A game rife with goals, end-to-end action, controversy and paroxysms of passion… without getting into specifics, this was a belter of a tilt tonight and one that hinted at a renewed rivalry between two age-old foes.
(Insert He-Man theme here)
Sorry for the delay guys.Â We greatly appreciate the flood of great questions and comments, and are sorry to say we couldn’t get to them all. We’ve all been pretty busy lately for a variety of reasons, so without any further ado, let’s get started on the 1st ever Maple Leafs HotStove Hockey Panel Discussion.
Forming our panel for this session is Alec Brownscombe of Hockeybuzz and MLHS godfather, Gus Katsaros of Mckeen’s and MLHS fantasy expert, and myself, Alex Tran, an MLHS blogger.
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).
>>>DISCUSS IT HERE
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.
>>>DISCUSS IN THE FORUMS
I’m approaching the upcoming campaign with a win-win mentality.
Should the Maple Leafs dwell in the bottom five as virtually assured by Toronto media types, the opportunity to import a premier prospect to join Luke Schenn atop the prospect ranks will obviously be a major boost to a re-tooling club in the midst of its youth movement.
>>>DISCUSS IN THE FORUMS
*Sunday Morning Update: Nothing ground-breaking here, but Fletcher told me via e-mail this morning that there were no new developments in Friday’s meeting between himself, Mats Sundin and agent J.P Barry. “Mats is going to take his time.” It’s expected that Fletcher clarified his position by reaffirming that Sundin was welcome back, with a reported $7 million, 1 year deal still on the table. Alex Tran will be checking in with his first blog sometime today.