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Ottawa Senators


    The Leafs were down early as rookie phenom Jonas Gustavsson was lit up for 3 goals on 5 shots. Poor defensive coverage, a terrible line change, and a lucky bounce on a shot that Gustavsson likely should have had forced the Leafs to swap the goaltenders and bring in Vesa Toskala. The goaltenders tapped sticks at the bench in the shuffle. “Tag, you’re it” can be described at the outcome.


      Stick Work with Fab and Kats returns this week. Fab and I pick our Torontosaurus Rex and discuss why. I went a little off the board with a player that should be given more credit, even though I’ve been hard on him before.

      After fixing the issues with the audio for our guests, we will bounce our selections off our first guest, Julian Sanchez of Pension Plan Puppets and he’ll chime in on goaltending amongst other Leafs related items.

      Discussing small markets teams is Globe and Mail’s and From The Rink on SB Nation, James Mirtle.

      Fab traveled to watch the Leafs play in Carolina, while I attended the Ottawa Senators against the New Jersey Devils last weekend. We’ll tell you about our travels and observations while James provides a more in depth look at some of the smaller markets and their travails.

      We thank our guest for their time, and our listeners as well.

      Enough babbling!

      Stick Work With Fab&Kats

      Right-Click Here to download as an .mp3

      katshockey@mapleleafshotst[email protected]


        0-2-1 after 3 games, and the sky is falling.   Or so chicken little would have you believe, anyway.

        3 games in and panic?   Seriously?   You’d think the Leafs just traded away a handful of high picks for a relatively-unknown goaltender with an injury history.   Wait, scratch that — they did that a couple years ago and as I recall the move was far more heralded than denounced, at the time.

        Which is exactly my point:  you can’t know, early on, exactly how things will turn out.


          Given the early-season struggles of incumbent starting netminder Vesa Toskala, speculation is mounting that Jonas Gustavsson could receive his first NHL start as early as Tuesday night when the Leafs face their Ontario rivals, the Ottawa Senators.

          Early speculation is Toskala may not be all the way back, mentally or physically, from the groin and hip surgeries he endured last season. While it is obviously far too early to annoint Gustavsson the starter for the rest of the season (he has yet to play a full game in the NHL), it is not unreasonable to expect that in the wake of Toskala’s struggles he could receive an extended look, in the form of more early-season starts than were initially planned.


            With the new season quickly approaching, the Maple Leafs have brought back the old commercial in which fans talk about their favourite Leafs goal of all-time (you know the one, right?). So it got me thinking, what’s my favourite Maple Leafs goal of all-time?

            Borschevsky versus the Red Wings in 1993? Nope. Gilmour’s overtime wrap-around against the Blues that same year? No, not that one either. My favourite Leaf goal of all-time is Steve Thomas’ OT winner in Game 5 versus the Senators in the 2000 playoffs. Now the overtime goals by Borschevsky and Gilmour may have been bigger, but I have to put Stumpy’s winner at the top of my list because I saw it in person.


              In the final game of the rookie tournament, the Leafs’ rookies were beaten soundly — to the tune of 7-1 — by their Ontario rivals, the Ottawa Senators.

              Although I was not able to attend this game in person, fellow Leafs die-harder ‘Bell’ was in attendance for all of the games and has kindly provided some thoughts about the action (or was it inaction?) at the Aud last night, and the tournament as a whole.


                The Boston Globe reports that restricted free agent winger Phil Kessel will no longer be negotiating with the Boston Bruins and will likely now await either a trade or an offer sheet from a rival club. The writer suggests that Boston GM Peter Chiarelli would likely prefer going through the trade route in order to receive a package of higher value than 3 unproven draft picks as compensation for an offer sheet in the $5 million range. The article also makes an interesting point: despite missing 12 games, Kessel finished tied for 12th in NHL scoring last season and the players above him average $6.5 million in annual salary. Makes you think, doesn’t it.

                With that being said, the pressure to make a deal seems to lie on the Bruins because per the CBA rules, if Kessel were to sign an offer sheet before the Bruins can find a suitable trade, they would be forced to either let him go or match and keep him. They cannot simply match an offer sheet and then seek to deal him for a package of higher value than the draft picks during the first year of his new deal. But again, sneaking behind the Bruins GM’s back to ink Kessel to an offer sheet before they have a chance to act may trigger some harsh sentiment and retaliation.

                In other news, just a friendly reminder that tonight is the fourth and final game of the Leafs rookie tournament in Kitchener, which kicks off at 7pm ET against the rival Ottawa Senators. Coverage will be aired once again on Rogers TV channels 10 and 60.


                  Wednesday night’s tilt between the Maple Leafs and Penguins was by far the sloppiest game the Leafs have played thus far, with a 4-1 Pittsburgh victory the end result.

                  Simply put, the players looked as though they lacked energy from the outset.   Was it fatigue from the toll of three games in four days?   Or was it simply a poor outing, as is prone to happen to all teams, from time to time?   The answer to that may lie in Thursday evening’s game against the Senators.


                    Not a whole lot of news coming out of the NHL ranks these last few days, as the few free agents still available are playing the waiting game (kind of surprising to note that Alex Tanguay’s still out there). As we try to make it through the last work day before the weekend, let’s touch upon more trade speculation out of Chicago, Leaf prospect Mikhail Stefanovich, early playoff predictions and the Leafs’ second annual Coca Cola Fans First Game.


                      The Edmonton Oilers are said to be meeting face-to-face with disgruntled Ottawa Senators forward Dany Heatley tonight in a last-ditch attempt to convince him to accept their trade offer.

                      Update: Heatley putting trade on hold – again.


                        This time of year pretty much everyone is doing a mock draft of some sort.  So, with one week to go until the Entry Draft, I figure it’s time I chip in with my two cents on what may or may not unfold with the top 10 picks come June 26.

                        Note that the draft projections listed here are made based on current draft positions, and are not reflective of any possible trades involving the top 10 picks.


                          Less than 24 hours after the Leafs season officially ended with a win over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night, the fans and media have already turned their attention to two important dates: June 26th, the date of the NHL Entry Draft, and July 1st, when free agent frenzy takes off. Just for discussion’s sake, here are a few interesting scenarios currently being tossed various news outlets today:


                            Normally, you would figure that game # 82 on a team’s docket, in a season where that team has been eliminated from playoff contention, would be rather meaningless.   Normally, you would expect it to be nothing more than perhaps an opportunity to give young players a bit of NHL experience before hitting the greens.

                            But when is normal ever the norm in Toronto?   Somehow, tonight’s season-closing game is still meaningful to the final outcome of the Leafs’ season … as are the final games for the LA Kings and the Phoenix Coyotes, which will be played late this afternoon and tonight.


                              The Tyler Bozak “Sweepstakes” are nearly coming to an end and according to Bob Mckenzie, the talented young forward from the University of Denver may make his decision as early as today after much speculation that he was supposed to sign yesterday. Apparently, the 23 year old Regina, Saskatchewan native has narrowed down his list to 3 or 4 teams, with Toronto and Ottawa believed to be among the finalists.


                                As the trade deadline looms ever closer, the Ottawa Senators have just completed the second major trade in the last few days, by sending San Jose’s 2009 1st round pick acquired from Tampa in the Andrej Mezaros trade along with center Dean McAmmond to the New York Islanders in exchange for center Mike Comrie and defenseman Chris Campoli.


                                  When Team Canada went for the third straight Gold Medal, they were ruled “too small and lacked the necessary talent” to win. They proved them wrong. When Team Canada went for the fourth straight Gold Medal, they were ruled as “an underdog team with potential but not enough skill” to win. They proved them wrong. This year, Team Canada went for the fifth straight Gold Medal at the World Junior Hockey Championship. They were ruled as “too small” and we’re slated to win nothing more than silver. Again, Canada proves them wrong. How can you rule out the Hockey Capital of the World?


                                    I don’t care where in the tanking/playoff spectrum you stand, beating the Ottawa Senators is always sweet. Especially in a game riddled with physicality and controversy, against a rival considered at season’s dawn a contender vastly more talented than the re-building Maple Leafs.


                                      I have neither seen nor heard an official announcement from the team, but Anton Stralman is now listed on the Leafs active roster, following Jiri Tlusty’s return to the Marlies.

                                      Also, the Globe & Mail is reporting that John Mitchell will skate between Antropov and Ponikarovsky against the Senators.