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.
*Inspired by Eric Engelsâ€™ format over at HockeyBuzz. Great stuff.*
Ten questions as you soak in another disappointing overtime loss, this time against the Tampa Bay Lightning. If thereâ€™s anyone to blame, itâ€™s that bitch known as Lady Luck.
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.
***Check out Nikhil's pre-game article for some in-depth information about tonight's game! This is more of a blog than a pre-game***
While there has been much buildup for the debut of Phil Kessel in a Toronto Maple Leafs uniform, the goaltending of Jonas Gustavsson against the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight should be equally monitored.
At long last, Phil Kessel will don the blue and white as he takes to the ice against the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight. Â He has received final clearance (after undergoing a few tests on his repaired shoulder) and will be lining up alongside Jason Blake and Matt Stajan. Â While the focus will undoubtedly be on Kessel's performance in his first game, the Leafs as a whole must maintain their recent level of play and take a win from the visiting team tonight.
Reports indicate that Phil Kessel will definitely be in the lineup tomorrow night against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Â The much-anticipated debut of the young winger has been a hot topic of late with information surfacing in the last few weeks that he would be ready before the previously upheld mid-November estimate. Â With the Leafs playing much better in recent games, it will be interesting to see how Kessel fits in. Â Fans should not expect him to be completely in form yet, as he will need some time to get into game-shape.
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.
After a seemingly endless week of postulating, panicking, and debating with the fervent passion that only hockey-starved Leafs fans can display, it is finally gameday.Â While the prevalent hope amongst Toronto followers is that the winless streak gets broken tonight, there is a veritable maelstrom of other stories convoluting that one simple wish.