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The two greatest military tacticians of the past 5000 years â€“ Sun Tzu and Sgt. Slaughter â€“ both spoke on the value of knowing the strengths and weaknesses of your enemies in the field.Â To effectively assess the situational realities of the Toronto Maple Leafs it pays to look at the status of their direct competition within the Northeast division.Â Playing 24 games against teams from their own division, pride, points and position are all on the line.Â While by no means comprehensive (as yet), take a gander at the past 3 weeks of moves.
The Canadians, Senators, Bruins and Sabres all earned playoff positions last season.Â A successful, playoff calibre Leafs squad must commit themselves to dominating these frequent opponents as more than a quarter of the season will be played against them.
In 2005, the NHL was returning to work after a year long lockout, a bitter battle between players and owners over cost certainty. Â The entry draft in June of 2005 was really the beginning of a new era in hockey, and a new era for the Pittsburgh Penguins, who drafted Sidney Crosby first overall, a move that would change their fortunes forever.
Drafted second that year was Bobby Ryan. Â A big bodied power forward with tremendous skill, I had the chance to watch Ryan in person blaze up and down the ice for the Owen Sound Attack. Â One look at Ryan moving swiftly between checkers, puck on a string as he bobbed and weaved his way into a prime scoring area, and it was clear.
This dude was one heck of a consolation prize.
And the GM who was afforded that consolation prize, as you are all aware, was one Brian Burke.
The year was 2005. Â George W. Bush was still in office (yes, somehow Americans voted for him, twice), Hurricane Katrina was doing catastrophic damage to New Orleans, and the vatican was naming a new pope after the passing of John Paul II.
In the sports world, the New England Patrios would win yet another Super Bowl, this time against the Eagles, the Washington Nationals would begin operation as Major League Baseball’s newest team, Danica Patrick became the first woman to lead a lap at the Indy 500, and the Chicago White Sox ended a lengthy championship drought, winning the world series in four straight over the Houston Astros.
Oh, and there was this one other thing too. Â NO HOCKEY.
Embattled in a bitter labour dispute, the NHL shut down operations for an entire year in search of cost certainty, something they would eventually get, although the opinion on whether the design is flawed or not is still out to be deliberated.
For fans of the NHL, the June 2005 entry draft was more than just a weekend in June in which young players would be drafted, making their way into the beginning of their National Hockey League careers. Â It was a new beginning for the world of the NHL. Â A new season was about to kick off in earnest.
Whichever way you cut it, the Leafs endured a torrid season that no statistical tinkering can mend. Regardless, if there is one thing most opposing NHL fans can agree on itâ€™s the increasing need for an overhaul in the leagues pointsâ€™ structure and the farcical awarding of points in the overall standings.
Where once every game had two points at stake, either by means of two for the win or split after an OT tie, the inclusion of an extra point for teams losing in OT or, more prevalently, after the shootout, has spawned an lopsided points structure that favours teams and coaches who adopt an cautious approach toward the end of regulation time that is the polar opposite of what was originally intended.
The Playoffs are about to start and what better time than now for the CFB predictions. We highlight every series with individual writers giving their own opinion on why or how a particular team can win the series. This is the Round 1 Predictions for the Western Conference.
It’s that time of year again. Â The most wonderful time of the year. Â No, not Christmas, and no, you won’t see any of those silly Staples commercials.
It’s time for the NHL playoffs.
The annual spring tournament that features some of the most exciting hockey of the season. Â It’s Â triple overtime games that rage on long into the night, games so long that you’ll hope you saved some sick days. Â It’s players skating through pain, all for the common goal of lifting Lord Stanley’s Cup.
And the great fans of the NHL, well they have the best seat in the house.
Around this time of year, especially the first round, marriages are postponed. Â Assignments are left on desks unfinished. Â Scheduled are cleared, or built around. Â Kiss your wife or girlfriend, and tell her you’ll see her in a few months, a better person than when you last saw her.
Submitted by Michael Stephens (a.k.a. Baumgartner)
Playing 16 games in March, the Leafs iced a remarkable squad, going 9 â€“ 5 â€“ 2 in (one of the best records in the Eastern Conference), collecting 20 out of a possible 32 points. Those 20 points represent almost one third of the Leafs season point total, as do their nine wins. Though this speaks more to the season long ineptitude of Hogtownâ€™s heroes, it more recently speaks to their dazzling success: these totals come from just under one-fifth of the total games played in a season. That is perhaps the most promising thing about these young buds looking at next season.
The Torontosaurus Rex for Week 23 is fitting and also notoriously absent from the only Leafs extra time loss in the last seven overtime/shootout games. In that loss, the Maple Leafs and Penguins tied a dubious NHL record, one night after the Leafs/Rangers surpassed 100 overtime games in the NHL this season.
This involves the Leafs, as well as around the league.
TFP: The Los Angeles Kings, Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators are among the teams to have serious interest in Alexei Ponikarovsky. Various reports suggest the Leafs are looking for a first-round pick in exchange for Ponikarovsky, though it’s believed Burke is willing to accept a second-round pick and a top prospect.”
5:00 PM Update – Mueller, Roloson, Hamhuis, Voros/Lisin.
With the NHL’s Olympic Trade Freeze about to hit at 3pm today, reports out of Pittsburgh indicate that the Maple Leafs had scouted the Penguins’ Wednesday game against the Islanders. The obvious trade fit here wouldÂ seem to be a winger such as Alexei Ponikarovsky or even Lee Stempniak. However, the Pens currently have about $600 k available in cap space, so any significant acquisition means that another roster player would have to be going the other way.
Dreger had speculated a few days ago that the Leafs were looking for a 2nd round pick along with a roster player in exchange for Ponikarovsky, which is certainly consistent with Burke’s moves as Toronto GM. Realizing a lack of quality grinders on his team, Brian has been gradually and subtly requesting that teams include quality 3rd and 4th line players in a couple of his deals (see Primeau in the Stralman deal and Sjostrom in the Phaneuf deal). So perhaps Tyler Kennedy or Pascal Dupuis along with a draft pick coming back the Leafs’ way would be the most feasible framework around which to base a deal.
Should be an interesting day ahead.
We have all had a few days to digest Sunday’s trades, but there is still a well of untapped implications. Â Here’s a closer look at the forwards involved: both the outgoing Leafs and our lone newcomer. Â Be sure to check out Garrett’s excellent pre-game analysis here before tonight’s tilt with the New Jersey Devils.
I’m about as optimistic a person as they come, but tonight’s loss against a struggling Penguins team just hammers home the message that there simply isn’t enough skill on this roster. It was a pretty bland effort overall as they couldn’t capitalize on key scoring chances and made a few mental mistakes that resulted in the back of their net.
Tonight’s tilt against the Penguins is the last game of the Get F’ed with Ed contest here at MLHS. Â Get in your picks for one more shot at some free Leafs tickets.
Drop the penalty kill from the equation and the Leafs win this one 2-0; there’s something, right?
With the World Junior Championship gold medal game taking centre stage tonight (7:30pm, TSN), Leafs’ fans can be forgiven for overlooking tonight’s matchup against an inconsistent Florida Panthers squad (7:00pm, Sportsnet).
Coming off a disastrous mini-road trip out West, featuring losses to the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames, the Maple Leafs will look to inject some confidence into their lineup with a victory against the visiting Panthers, who sit only 4 points ahead of the Leafs in the Eastern Conference standings.
Despite the many talking heads who continue to suggest that Ian White is not a top-four defender anywhere other than Toronto, a growing number of personalities both in the blogs and the mainstream media are beginning to recognize his value as a hockey player as he continues Â to consistently provide outstanding effort at both ends of the rink.
Although much of the talk has centred around White’s play looking so good because of the lack of talent around him, and that on a deeper team he’d be buried, I say let’s spin that argument on its head. Â The fact that he doesn’t have a ton of talent around him is evidence of just how good a hockey player he is, dare I say one of the more underrated players in the entire league. Â Before you write me off completely as some fanboy lunatic for suggesting that, let’s take a look at the numbers first.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are one of three teams without a shutout this season. They have been shutout four times, allowing 15 goals. They’ve scored 98 goals in wins and a paltry 12 in losses. Of the 44 goals they’ve allowed in losses, 15 come by way of shutouts.
The latest takes on it’s infamy as the record-breaking shutout by a most deserving, Martin Brodeur.
The New Jersey Devils are one of five teams that have not been shutout this season. Brodeur’s three shutouts for the Devils this season set up and then smashed the all time shutout record.
In honour of the new shutout record at 104 – and counting – the following are the to-date shutouts and numbers in the NHL in 2009-10.
Just wanted to share a fantastic bit of work done by Nights, one of our many enthusiastic and intelligent readers, who evaluated how the NHL landscape would look without the first 8 games of the season during which the Maple Leafs struggled mightily. Great work!
By: Gus Katsaros
Prior to the season starting, I had written about the impact of schedules. In particular, as the Leafs face the Habs tonight after playing the previous night, while Montreal is rested. Interesting enough, the last time this happened, Toronto beat Detroit 5-1.
Schedules make a big difference in the results of NHL teams fates during the season. In some instances, it could be the difference between a playoff spot and a tee time (and I thoroughly enjoy both â€“ FORRRREEEE!!).
The Leafs and Islanders have a fair bit of history between them. The Mike Peca/Darcy Tucker incident, the Leafs trading up to acquire Luke Schenn, and even the Islanders beating the Devils (who played Scott Clemmenson instead of Martin Brodeur) in a shootout to knock the Leafs out of the 2006-07 playoffs by one point in the final game of the season. Tonight, they meet again in Toronto.
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