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It started off as a fast paced and strong two-way game for both clubs, but the Maple Leafs just could not keep up with the Wild’s pressure for a full 60 minutes. Minnesota came into this game to make a statement, much like the Leafs did on Saturday night against the Red Wings. There were key chances for the Leafs to score, but a few bad breaks, including costly penalties, and missed opportunities cost the Leafs their 7 game point streak in a loss against the worst team in the Western Conference.
Tonight, the Toronto Maple Leafs will try and make it 3 wins in a row as they host the Minnesota Wild. Toronto is just 6 points out of a playoff position with 2 games on hand. A win tonight would add to their current point streak of 11 points in their last 7 games.
The stats were not in Toronto’s favor. The Red Wings current streak was not in Toronto’s favor. Chris Osgood’s recent play was not in Toronto’s favor. But the Leafs came out last night with such, dare I say it, truculence that fans gave them a standing ovation for their efforts, as well as the Leafs first win at home this season.
After such a porous start for both clubs, both teams are heading into tonight’s original six matchup with their longest streak of the season and are currently playing their best hockey. The Red Wings are looking to extend their streak to 4 wins, while the Leafs are looking to extend their streak to 2 games for the first time this season.
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?
Leafs fans have been waiting for John Mitchell to step up and start burying his opportunities to legitimize himself as a top 6 forward, where depth is lacking. At Wednesday’s practice, he received that opportunity and looks to excel at it as he was paired up with sniper Phil Kessel to establish some chemistry before Friday night’s matchup with the Carolina Hurricanes.
Since last Friday, Michael Liambas of the Erie Otters has awaited the league’s decision on his hit to Kitchener Rangers defenseman Ben Fanelli. Today, the OHL has come down hard on Liambas, suspending him for the regular season and playoffs, thus ending his OHL career.
It’s fairly obvious the Leafs are a team that wanders around looking for a win like men in a desert. Once they get close enough to civilization, it turns out to be a mirage.
Update: After careful deliberation, our very own Gus Katsaros was not only credited with his Kessel/Savard information, but he has been invited to appear on Hockey Central at Noon today during the show’s 2 hour timeslot beginning at 12:00 EST. More info inside.
It’s a hit no one ever wants to happen. It’s the type of collision in which there was no intent to injure, and still a player is left in an unfortunate state. It’s the hit that has left Ben Fanelli in a critical but stable state in the hospital with skull and facial fractures, and Mike Liambas at home deeply depressed and feeling awful over the game he loves.
It is their second meeting this year, and the first played a big part on blinding fans for both teams in the belief that each were elite competitors. Since that opening night, the Habs have on 5-7-0, while the Leafs have gone 1-7-2. But there are always upsides, and tonight marks to start to capitalize on those specifics.
The Buffalo Sabres are first in their division with a 7-1-1 record, first in the league with average shots per game (36), and have won every game in which the opposition out-shot them. Ryan Miller also holds the best goals against average (1.60) and save percentage (0.944) in the NHL. The Leafs visit them tonight in an effort to try and ruin many of those stats.
Ron Wilson was interviewed today after the Leafs practice, and he revealed the plan moving towards the weekend concerning the goaltenders and the return of Vesa Toskala, as well as what we have all been waiting to hear about – the return (or rather arrival) of Phil Kessel to the Leafs lineup.
Update: Tlusty Up, Stalberg Down, thanks to “canucksnaphook” and “Leafsfan87″ for info.
The Leafs are set to visit the Anaheim Ducks as they continue to search for their first win of the season, and while one awkward stat is starting to creep up on them, it seems Gustavsson is ready, but possibly not completely game ready.
Joe Bowen checks in from Vancouver and discusses the current predicament for the Leafs in goal. Leafs brought four goaltenders with them to Vancouver. Brian Burke discusses his lack of interest if he meets with Gillis or not.
UPDATE: Gustavsson is skating on the ice, and Ron Wilson has suggested he might be playing on Saturday despite just one practice. Also, rumors circulating Leafs could be after Frolov. Hockey Central at Noon suggests the possibility of Burke potentially sacrificing future in order to prevent Bruins from landing top 5 pick.
Based on several reports, Van Ryn is opting for knee surgery that could potential spell the end of his career. According to TSN, “Van Ryn is having an osteotomy, a procedure by which the bone is cut and the knee is realigned. This type of surgery is usually performed on the elderly.”
Bad goaltending is now blamed on an injury. The Leafs have called up rookie James Riemer who will be sitting on the bench tonight as Joey MacDonald gets the nod. Vesa Toskala has apparently suffered an undisclosed injury after last night’s 7-2 loss (my bet is a fan clubbed him Nancy Kerrigan style) and is now out. Toronto’s top two goaltenders (arguably) are now sidelined. Gustavsson is expected to return sometime next week.
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 following are the Leafs lines for tonight’s game. Ron Wilson has shuffled the lines quite a bit and has looked to find some chemistry for a shooter to play with John Mitchell. He’s hoping Jason Blake will fill the role while Jamal Mayers can provide some grit on the right side.
It seems just a few months after an investigation was done on the Maple Leafs regarding the Vancouver Canucks Sedin twins prior to free agency day, the Leafs face yet another potential charge for tampering. Once again, it involves the Canucks, and Vancouver’s GM Mike Gillis is not standing back this time.
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