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The Toronto Maple Leafs look to put a streak together tonight, while the Devils are seeking control of the Atlantic division. Tyler Bozak and Phil Kessel each have 6 points in their last 4 games, while Nikolai Kulemin is showing signs of becoming a promising top two line player with 7 points in his last 5 affairs. He has arguably been the Leafs’ best player for the second half of the season.
I attended practice at the MasterCard Center for Hockey Excellence, watching a loose group of players reveling in the 4-1 win over their provincial arch rivals. It all began with a loose skate, just a warm-up involving firing some pucks off the boards along the way.
For the sixth and final time this season, the Toronto Maple Leafs will face their rivals, the Ottawa Senators, this time in enemy territory at Scotiabank Place.
Tonight’s game will close out the season series between the two teams. The series currently stands at 3-2 in favor of the Leafs, who have won their past three against the Senators.
The Leafs are coming off Sunday’s loss to the New York Islanders in which the players appeared completely spent (5 games in 8 days, culminating in back to back games, will have a negative effect on any club).Â However, prior to that debacle, Toronto had won three in a row on merits of effort-laden, energetic play.Â With a much-needed day off under their belts, the players will look to return to their winning ways with a strong effort against their bitter provincial rivals.
The Torontosaurus Rex for Week 21 is ….
Tyler Bozak is Happy. You Should Be Too.
Twice in the last week – once after the Tampa Bay game, once during the first intermission of the Oilers game – we’ve had the opportunity to watch Tyler Bozak do interviews for television. Twice during the past week, he’s stood there in the hallway outside the Leaf dressing room, spiky hair soaked with sweat, talking first to Paul Hendrick, then to Elliotte Friedman, with a giant freaking grin on his face. The big grin on his face tells you that Tyler Bozak is a happy young man. He’s got six goals and eleven assists in twenty-three games as a twenty-three year old rookie centreman for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and he’s making $875,000 with another 2.8 million dollars worth of bonuses on the table. Of course he’s happy. Why the hell wouldn’t he be happy?
The big grin also tells you he’s a young man. Those of a certain age can’t help but be struck immediately by Bozak’s youthful appearance. He seems to have a little acne here and there, which makes him look even more like the kid behind the counter at Taco Bell than he otherwise might, but more than anything else you can see the excitement of a young man in his eyes and in the corners of his mouth when he simply cannot supress the grin that wants to get out. Doing those interviews, you can tell that he is absolutely stoked, the way only a young player – who hasn’t been doing this sort of thing since Chelios was a child – can possibly be.
First and foremost, let me apologize for my absence. Â As some of you may know, I am in school completing my Sports Marketing degree, and things have gotten really hectic in crunch time. Â I am also organizing a golf tournament for this summer in Strathroy, Ontario. Â Anyone who would like to golf can get in touch with me anytime.
You know, another season of hockey is winding down.Â At least, it is in Toronto with the Maple Leafs.Â While the sun has been shining and treating us to above average weather the past week or so, it does come at a price.
It has become all to accustomed.Â As soon as the sun begins to melt the snow, and the grey, dull sky is replaced by a ray of sunlight, you know that the Maple Leafs arenâ€™t long for this world.Â That the season is just about wrapped up, and lockers will soon be cleaned.
Just some quick thoughts after the Maple Leafs’ 4-3 overtime win over the Bruins:
Assist for Phil KesselÂ is his first point in 5 games against his old team
Bozak continues to progress
Carl Gunnarsson had another solid game with a goal and a +3 rating
KULEMIN with the game winner, and that’s all folks!!! Leafs win 4-3 in a thrilling overtime victory!
Now, wasn’t that an appropriate Torontosaurus Rex?!
That was the Leafs first OT victory of the season. (1-9)
It feels like a spring day, almost like a playoff date.
This isn’t a playoff game by any stretch .. There are some interesting scenarios playing out even before puck drop.
Here’s the game thread … you can also follow along on Twitter, @KatsHockey
This is the first game At home for newest Leaf, Luca Caputi (Now with his first goal as a Leaf!!).
This is the first game after the devastating hit my Matt Cooke taking out Savard.
This is the first game At home that will not feature Alex Ponikarovsky as a Leaf.
This is the first game in which Phil Kessel scores his first point as a Leaf against his former club (maybe) … (Yes! After a change in scoring on the second goal, he got his first assist versus his old team)
The Leafs have given up powerplay markers in consecutive games after going five games without letting in a power play goal.
Despite being one season removed from having won the Vezina Trophy this is the second consecutive start for Tim Thomas I the last games.
And the Puck has dropped .. I’ll be refreshing about every 10-15 minutes
Look, I’m not saying I’m a good luck charm, but I attend the game in the press box and a whole lot of good happens .. Caputi’s first as a Bud, Kessel registering his first assist .. Just call me lucky Kats.
End of Regulation 3-3
Before we get to the T-Rex, make sure to stop by Maple Leafs Hot Stove Tuesday night.
I will be live blogging the Leafs/Bruins game from the press box at the Air Canada Centre.
Stop by, bring the funny and join us for a good time. Boston will be without Marc Savard after the devastating headshot from Matt Cooke, and the Bruins have had scoring woes all season long. Will this be the game Phil Kessel finally get his first point against his former team?
Fresh off last night’s hard-hitting victory over the Ottawa Senators, the Maple Leafs face another physical game tonight as they visit the Philadelphia Flyers.
Tonight’s game will be the fourth in six nights for a Toronto squad which has undergone some significant changes in the past week. The Leafs will enter the game physically tired, but mentally inspired following Saturday’s victory over Ottawa and a terrific effort in a shootout loss to the Boston Bruins on Thursday night.
Ever since the Leafs’ late-offseason acquisition of Phil Kessel, his performance has been (understandably) heavily-scrutinized in the face of the hefty amount of futures given up to secure the extremely talented winger.
Kessel’s season has, in some ways, mirrored that of his teammates, with periods of great productivity followed by periods of near-invisibility. However, considering a host of issues which seemingly stood in the way of a productive season, including significant shoulder surgery, causing him to miss out on training camp, and the lack of talent surrounding him, the Leafs’ young sniper has produced at a rate which, in the context of the aforementioned factors, is actually quite impressive.
For the second time in four days the Maple Leafs will face off against the New Jersey Devils, this time at the ACC. In what seems to be the most nonsensical decision made in recent memory by NHL schedulers, come this Friday the Leafs and Devils will have faced off three times in one calendar week. What’s up with that?
As you are all undoubtedly aware, the Leafs have a few new faces in the fold, and we are all eager to see what Phaneuf, Sjostrom, and Giguere bring to the table as members of the blue and white.
Note: I won’t get into trade analysis here; that has already been covered in excellent fashion by the MLHS crew in prior posts.
In the wake of Sunday’s blockbuster trades, one cannot help but wonder what’s next for the Toronto Maple Leafs? Who’s next to go? Who stays?
In any case, I think that it’s pretty safe to say that this season is a write-off. We’re not making any moves to make a run at the playoffs this season. So, let’s look forward and take a look at what the Maple Leafs should look like next season.
On the heels of the Leafs’ much-heralded acquisition of All-Star defenseman Dion Phaneuf, a significant question has arisen within Leafs Nation:
What impact does this trade have on the future of Tomas Kaberle?
Prospect defenceman Keith Aulie:
“Aulie is a 6’6 defenceman playing for Abbotsford of the AHL. Our plans for Keith are for him to stay at the AHL level for the present, so he will report to the Marlies. This is a player who played on the national junior team and won a gold medal. Excellent skater for a big man, a guy we coveted and hard to work real hard to get into the deal. We think he’s going to be a really good NHL player down the road for a long time. We think right now, like Calgary did, that from a development standpoint, he’ll be better off logging big minutes in the American league.
Let’s be honest, how many of you had either fallen asleep or changed the channel when your Leafs tied it up tonight? Â In a comeback devoid of any explosiveness, Toronto teased you with the possibility of an overtime victory. Â Hah! Should have known better, eh?
Tonight, the Toronto Maple Leafs play host to the Los Angeles Kings. Fortunately for the Leafs, they are back at home where they have a better record (9-10-5) than when playing as the visitors (8-16-5) this season. Unfortunately for the Leafs, the Kings have a better away record (15-10-1) than they do when playing as the host team (14-9-2)… also Kopitar. Yeah.
Tonight at 7:00, the Toronto Maple Leafs will visit the Florida Panthers in a battle against former Maple Leaf, Bryan McCabe, and his Panthers. Also, Brian Burke addressed the media regarding his outlook towards the remainder of the season, as well as what has been highly regarded as a “double deadline” year with the Olympic break and the trade deadline.
One of the more enigmatic problems facing Brian Burke in an summer that will see much of the contemporary Buds negligible talent headed for the door, is the impending contract crunch ofÂ now go-toÂ starter Jonas Gustavsson. Touted by many as the best netminder outside of the NHL last season, Gustavsson has shown exciting, if fleeting moments of the form that earned him widespread acclaim backstopping last seasonâ€™s Elitserien champions Farjestads BK.
Unfortunately, Gustavssonâ€™s dominant play in the SEL has failed to translate on a consistent basis in the NHL and much of the season many saw as the coronation of a new number one has been overshadowed by a significant heart problem. Supraventricular tachycardia aside, Gustavssonâ€™s woes in the aftermath of his worrisome sidelining have seemingly stemmed from a crisis of confidence borne out of the inconsistent, Jekyll and Hyde defense, The Monster has had to deal with on a night by night basis, as well as the organizationsÂ early and now aborted attemptsÂ at blooding Vesa Toskala as trade bait.
The Toronto Maple Leafs just can’t seem to do anything right. The Maple Leafs surrendered another lead in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Maple Leafs fell to 1-10 in games decided beyond regulation and more specifically, 0-8 in overtime.
Some surprisingly good special teams had the Leafs ahead 2-1 late in the third, but a couple of 4-on-3 power-plays stemming from bad penalties resulted in the tying and winning goals for the Lightning.
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