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In case you haven’t heard, the Toronto Marlies beat the Rochester Americans last night 4-3 to take a 1-0 lead in their first round best of five playoff series.
The game story and video highlights can be found here on the Marlies website. The readers digest version goes like this: the Marlies took the play to Rochester in the first, yet it was Rochester who finished the first period with a 1-0 lead. The Americans’ goalie, David Leggio, was peppered with shots throughout the game and the Marlies D’Amigo finally broke through in the second period as the two teams went into the third period tied at one. The Marlies then scored two goals to take what looked like a commanding lead, only for Rochester to storm back and tie the game. D’Amigo scored once again with under five minutes to take a final 4-3 lead as the Marlies held on for the win.
I linked the game story because I don’t plan on writing them. Below I have some game notes, interesting tidbits and takeaways from conversations I was lucky to have with the players. I want to supplement the standard game stories that can be found on numerous websites rather than duplicate them. So here it goes:
Nazem Kadri and Â Ryan Hamilton have been called up on an emergency call-up, withÂ Matt Frattin and Clarke MacArthur being listed as day-to-day with injuries.
TORONTOÂ â€” The Toronto Maple Leafs called up forwards Nazem Kadri and Ryan Hamilton on Thursday from their minor-league affiliate on an emergency basis.
Matt Frattin and Clarke MacArthur are out for the Leafs with day-to-day injuries. Frattin has a lower-body injury, while MacArthur has an upper-body injury.
The 26-year-old Hamilton is the captain of the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies. He’s second in team scoring with 46 points in 65 AHL games.
The Oshawa, Ont., native leads the club with 23 goals and 10 power-play goals and will be making his NHL debut when the Maple Leafs face the Devils in New Jersey on Friday.
Kadri, a 21-year-old from London, Ont., has 13 goals and 19 assists in 42 games in 2011-12 with the Marlies. He has four goals and two assists in 19 games for the Maple Leafs this season.
Courtesy of Joel Auerbach/Getty Images
Through a season of inconsistencies, the one thing that has remained constant for the Maple Leafs is the production of Joffrey Lupul and Phil Kessel. The duo surely formed one of, if the best, forward duet in the league, consistently tussling with the Sedins for the highest scoring pair (they’re trailing the race by a single point currently). All the while still keeping pace in the Art Ross race individually, as well. With all the success created and sustained, it was at one time far-fetched to believe the two could be split him for any reason.
With a three game losing streak in hand – one that all but made the Leafs four game win streak irrelevant – Ron Wilson made the peculiar coaching decision to split them up. And early progress reports signify it could turn out for the better.
Photo Credit: Mike Cassese/REUTERS
The Maple Leafs earned an uplifting 4-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres last night to a thunderous ovation from the ACC faithful. While the Leafs live to fight another day, the odds are still heavily stacked against their favour and they will have to hope the Sabres begin to wilt underneath the added pressure starting tonight against the Rangers.
Led by a three-point performance from Clarke MacArthur, Nazem Kadri’s best game in a Leaf uniform and an energized Dion Phaneuf, the blue andÂ white dropped the Sabres for the third consecutive time in the span of about a month. While the Sabres are still five points ahead of the Leafs with a game in hand, admirably this Leafs hasn’t seemed to have gotten the memo about their season being over, and do maintain a slim chance of crawling back into the top-eight of the Eastern Conference if they can start getting a few favours.
Nazem Kadri celebrates his second career NHL goal in last night's 4-2 loss to Detroit. (Getty Images)
The Leafs entered last week with the hope of winning at least two of the three games on their Western road trip. They were successful in accomplishing that goal, however last night’s loss to the Detroit Red Wings put the team into a very difficult position heading into the final stretch of the regular season. In order to have a realistic chance of making the post season, Toronto will likely have to win all six of their remaining games and pray that the Buffalo Sabres hit a dead end and win two or fewer of their games.
Considering the season-long brilliance displayed by Ryan Miller, and major offensive contributions from Thomas Vanek and sophomore forward Tyler Ennis, the Sabres will have to suffer a significant blow such as an injury or losing streak to lose hold of the eighth and final playoff spot.
Brian Burke stated prior to the start of the season thatÂ the primaryÂ goal was to make the playoffs. With yet another season set to wrap up in mid April, the city of Toronto is not filled with negativity and frustration, but rather a sense of optimism and promise that the Leafs have madeÂ significant strides towards building a contending team in theÂ very nearÂ future.
Links after the jump.
So the Toronto Maple Leafs did the inevitable and sent down there 2009 1st round selection Nazem Kadri to the AHL (Toronto Marlies).Â Whether it is longer term or just to get his 2-game suspension off the books remains to be seen but I for one hope he is firmly entrenched down there, for his own good.Â I still have hope that Kadri can develop into a serviceable and possibly even productive second line centre but for now he is not even close to being NHL ready.
To really drive home that point letâ€™s head to Alberta and take a look at Jordan Eberle.Â
You can never give up hope especially with 51 games remaining in the NHL schedule but with the Toronto Maple Leafs currently eight points out of a playoff spot with four teams also ahead of them to get there the odds are pretty stacked against them.Â Last season I believe only one team made the playoffs that werenâ€™t already officially among the top eight seeds as of December 1/2009 and that was the Philadelphia Flyers and we all remember how they managed to squeak in.Â
One could argue that they [Flyers] probably should have been in the race from the first game of the season given the roster of talent they possess and eventual trip all the way to the Stanley Cup finals.Â Nobody would make that same argument for this yearâ€™s version of the Leafs and while there is always a chance, I am not overly optimistic.Â
So if we arenâ€™t looking at a playoff berth what are we playing for?
Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images
During the doom and gloom of a lengthy losing streak it can be easy to focus only on the negative aspects of a hockey team and I have noticed my last few pieces have done just that.Â Today I thought I would take a look at some of the positive and promising assets the Toronto Maple Leafs currently possess as opposed to what they ultimately lack.
Although they are much maligned and even despised by some the ownership of the Toronto Maple Leafs has never been a serious impediment to the success of the team, contrary to popular belief.Â Sure MLSE values a profit as most corporations do and yes they charge an arm and a leg for even a lousy ticket, but the fact is the market for all things Leafs is extremely strong.Â With the current supply and demand the way it is the pricing issue will not go away or change, ever.
Graig Abel/Getty Images
Graig Abel/Getty Images
To say the least, it was a disappointing weekend in Leaf land. A decent effort Saturday versus the Canucks was spoiled, Kadriâ€™s season debut will mostly be remembered for losing the puck on a 3-on-1, and ex-Leaf Viktor Stalberg scored his 6th goal of the season for the Blackhawks…in overtime…with Brian Burke in attendance.
The Maple Leafsâ€™ losing streak ballooned to 8 games after falling to the Canucks on a weak goal on J.S. Giguere in the third period Saturday. Giguere made some big saves throughout the game, but couldnâ€™t make an easy one in the end. Perhaps Brett Lebda should have gotten his stick out of the way, but itâ€™s still one that Giguereâ€™s got to have. I still think Jonas Gustavsson should be getting more games in goal.
It is by no means the end of his career, strictly the next step.
On Monday, Nazem Kadri, 7th overall selection in the 2009 draft, was assigned to the Toronto Marlies. The player in whom a whole city had welcomed, became enamoured with and inked into their own starting lineup will not appear at ACC at allâ€¦ at least not yet. It will prove to be a powerful lesson for the 19 year old, if not the whole city of Toronto; the Toronto Maple Leafs are about winning hockey games, not necessarily selling tickets.
Jeff Finger returns to the line-up tonight in Detroit in what many will suggest is his Maple Leafs swan song/final pit stop en route to the Marlies. Burke is saying the right things about Finger’s right to a “fair look” and the importance of respecting players acquired via free agency as it relates to organizational reputation. But the realities are this: the Leafs are sitting with both Brett Lebda and Finger on the outside of their top six, over the cap by around $300k and uncomfortably close even with Lashoff and his $550k assigned to the Marlies. And that’s assuming Nazem Kadri and his $1.7 million cap hit will not be a part of the roster come opening night. If it’s important to show respect to signed free agents, surely Lebda won’t be Marlie-bound after his first training camp as a Leaf. Simply, something has to give, and the $3.5 million Finger, a Leaf of two seasons now, seems the obvious candidate for demotion.
Perhaps the best part about Nazem Kadri’s two-goal, three-point performance last night against the Ottawa Senators is that he can start the season with the Toronto Marlies with his head held high. Certainly, Leafs fans, management and Kadri alike will hope he can relay last night’s performance on the wing into another strong showing against Detroit on Friday and make a case for a place in the big Leafs’ top six for the October 7th date with the Habs. But should Kadri’s play return to the form he exhibited in previous preseason showings – by no means terrible, but not as impressive as it will take – he can take solace and confidence in last night’s achievements and start off on the right foot at the Ricoh.
The Leafs head to the capital tonight to take on their bitter provincial rivals, the Ottawa Senators, for the third time in seven preseason games.
Tonight’s game figures to be the last chance for players on the bubble, including highly-touted Nazem Kadri, to make a lasting impression. When asked about these players, head coach Ron Wilson was emphatic:
“When the puck drops on the first day, you better be ready to go. No tip-toeing around. No â€˜oh, the waterâ€™s cold, Iâ€™ll wait until it warms up a bitâ€™. Nope, youâ€™re diving in and the guys who didnâ€™t, as [Leafs' GM Brian Burke] said, theyâ€™re waiting by the bus stop. Well, they missed it, the bus already left. Now their job is running down the road hoping they can get on.” (via)
With the pre-season set to end with a home-and-home against Detroit to open the month of October, the general sentiment is the Leafs will use a roster for those games comprised of the players who are expected be with the NHL club on opening night. For Nazem Kadri, John Mitchell, Jay Rosehill and Mike Zigomanis, tonight (or by a slim chance the first of the two Detroit games) may be their last shot.
Coming off a tough shootout loss against the Flyers last night, the Leafs will look to rebound on the road against the Sabres tonight at HSBC Arena. Despite blowing a late third period lead, there was a lot to like about the Leafs’ performance, including a strong bounce back game from captain Dion Phaneuf and spurts of brilliance from the club’s new top line of Versteeg, Bozak and Kessel. The Buds will be in tough tonight against the Sabres, who will be icing a lineup very similar to the one they will open the season with.
An intriguing top line of Kris Versteeg, Tyler Bozak and Phil Kessel will feature in tonight’s rematch with the Flyers following the Leafs’ 11-round shootout win over Philadelphia last night at the John Lebatt Centre in London. The trio is the most skilled iteration of forwards the Leafs’ roster has to offer, and combined with Dion Phaneuf and Tomas Kaberle on the blueline (who will also dress) represent an interesting potential powerplay option for coach Wilson. The results with the man advantage tonight, then, will be well worth monitoring.
Hey, let’s get this straight right off the bat: it sucks to lose 5-0 to the Ottawa Senators. Â Any day of the year, any type of game. Â There will undoubtedly be at least one mainstream media headline out there along the lines of: “Leafs back to losing ways”. Â But a step back will tell us this is the first of a whopping nine exhibition matches Toronto will be playing and a ton can (and probably will) change in the next two weeks.
After months of nothing but Kaberle rumours and Grabovski lawsuits, Leafs Nation will finally get a glimpse of their 2010-2011 Toronto Maple Leafs.Â Being the first game of the preseason, Toronto is going with a healthy mix of youngsters, borderliners, and veterans.Â Luckily, fans will not have to wait to see most of the new Leafs (Clarke MacArthur excepted) as off-season acquisitions Versteeg, Armstrong, Brown and Lebda will all be hitting the ice.
After the jump, Derek Harmsworth recaps last night’s action in the NHL Rookie tournament, including locker room access, and looks ahead to today’s action.
Last Wednesday (September 1st), Toronto’s MasterCard Centre for Excellence, the Maple Leafs’ own practice facility, played host to the 2010 NHLPA Rookie Symposium in association with trading card leaders Upper Deck and Panini America. MLHS’ own Gus Katsaros was in attendance, and has kindly provided audio from his own conversation, as well as portions of a larger media scrum Q&A, with Leafs’ top prospect Nazem Kadri.
The Toronto Maple Leafs will host their rookie tournament this year in London, Ontario from September 11th to the 14th, and Maple Leafs Hot Stove will have unprecedented, wall-to-wall coverage of the event.
Join us here for live game blogs, game previews, game reviews, exclusive interviews, and more! Â Today, we will look at the top ten Leafs players who will be worth paying extra close attention to at this weekend’s event.
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