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Ron Wilson

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    For all the headlines the franchise had made off the ice, it’s the Phoenix Coyotes on ice product that should be making the news.

    Led by a core of young, talented hard working players, and solid goaltending by Ilya Bryzgalov, the Coyotes have been one of the biggest surprises in the NHL this season, and continued their winning ways tonight defeating the Leafs 6-3 in Toronto, denying the Leafs of their fifth straight win on home ice.

    Petr Prucha score twice for the Coyotes, while Vernon Fiddler, Paul Bissonnette, Scottie Upshall and Radim Vrbata all tallied singles for Phoenix.  Jamal Mayers, Phil Kessel, and Alexei Ponikarovsky replied for Toronto.

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      Good to be back! It’s been a little while since I’ve had the opportunity to post anything.

      The following are some random thoughts I’ve had of late, including Luke Schenn’s banishment to the press box, the Leafs’ recent winning ways, the status of the trade front, and more.

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        Niklas Hagman, with 15 goals, sits 18 in goals scored this season, fellow european Alexei Ponikarovsky is a little further down, ranked 29th in NHL goal scoring with 12 on the year so far.

        Phil Kessel and Matt Stajan both have more goals than Brad Richards, Nicklas Backstrom, Henrik Zetterberg, and Patrick Kane.

        And while these stats are a welcome sight to most fans, many would agree that the secret to the Leafs success lies much deeper.  At least, much deeper down the depth chart.

          173

          For the second time in a week, the Maple Leafs have felt the wrath of the Boston Bruins on home ice, only this time there were distinct differences from Saturday’s 7-2 beat down.

          The Leafs, after sleepwalking through two periods of the hockey game, decided to bring their game in the third and made things interesting with goals by Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin to pull them within a goal of the Bruins.  A late, costly penalty by Leafs winger Jason Blake sealed their fate however, as the penalty kill sagged once again, and Mark Recchi scored with under three minutes left to ice the game for the Bruins.

            99

            It took a while, but the Toronto Maple Leafs are finally starting to look comfortable on home ice, and on the ice in general, as one of their better overall team efforts led to a 3-2 win over the New York Islanders on Wednesday night in front of a joyful, loud crowd at the Air Canada Centre.

            Jason Blake scored the winner with just under five minutes left in the third period as the Leafs skated away with a hard fought 3-2 win.

            Francois Beauchemin and Ian White also scored for Toronto, who improved to 7-2-2 in their last eleven games.  John Tavares scored both goals for the Islanders.

              68

              A Kessel fight, a Blake goal (or two), and a Kulemin shortie.  It was a night of rarities as the Leafs took it to Columbus with a decisive 6-3 victory. Toronto beat the Blue Jackets to loose pucks all night long, forced turnovers with their speed, and miraculously capitalized on their chances.

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                The Toronto Maple Leafs begin a 3 game road trip tonight as they visit the long time rival Montreal Canadiens tonight for an Original Six Battle. This is the third time these two clubs have met this season, with Montreal taking the first two games by scores of 4-3 in overtime, and 5-4 in a shootout. The Habs will celebrate their 100th anniversary on Friday against another original six club in the Boston Bruins, but will first have to deal with the always threatening but rarely scoring Leafs.

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                  The Leafs hope to get their first three-game winning streak of the season tonight when the Buffalo Sabres roll into the Air Canada Centre.  Toronto has gone five straight games without a regulation loss (3-0-2) and hope to continue their stretch of strong offensive performances (3.8 goals per game).  They’ll be in tough against a Sabres team that is back on the winning track after a slight skid, supported by one of the hottest goaltenders this season in Ryan Miller.

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                    After a sloppy first couple of periods, the Maple Leafs held on for a 4-3 victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Leafs blew a 2-goal first period lead, as well as a 1-goal lead in the second, but played a solid third period and came out on top. It surely wasn’t the Leafs’ best performance of the season, but it was nice to see them emerge on the right end of a tight scoreline for a change.

                      21

                      Update: Damien Cox is reporting that Burke is currently working on at least two possible trades.

                      - The Toronto Sun‘s got a very interesting quote from Ron Wilson. When broached about the possibility of call-ups from the Marlies, the head coach replied: “It would give us a boost, but because we are kind of limited, we can’t send anybody down”. You’re kidding right? What happened to all that preseason talk about burying underperforming veterans in the minors? Where’s the accountability?

                      - Darren Dreger offers up some speculation as to what could be a very busy offseason next summer with as many as 17 free agents, 11 of whom will be unrestricted. He mentions that Stajan is a very likely candidate to be traded, and Ponikarovsky seems to be the only one who will be offered an extension.

                      - Prospect Notes: Nazem Kadri had a pair of very impressive games this past week, first in the OHL vs. Russia Subway Series, displaying a ton of poise and skill running the powerplay and then notching 3 assists against Erie last night. Jimmy Hayes, the Leafs’ 2008 2nd round selection, is showing signs of breaking out in the NCAA, with a 4 assist game last week and another goal last night.

                      - Once again, a pair of purples avaiable at cost for the Monday night’s game against John Tavares and the New York Islanders. First come first serve basis via email please.

                      [email protected]

                        6

                        Warning: The following could make your eyes fall out, your ears explode, and cost you years of therapy. How’s that an introduction for you?

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                          Ian White took a personal day today and missed practice. Ron Wilson decided to try some new lines as the Leafs prepare for their road game against the Ottawa Senators tomorrow night. Cory Clouston defines his perception of the Maple Leafs.

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                            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.

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                              - The Toronto Sun has details about a bargain opportunity on November 22nd: the chance to watch both the Leafs and Marlies practice at Ricoh that Sunday, and then attend the Marlies vs. Lake Erie Monsters at 4pm all for as little as $10. I suggest those of you interested in catching a glimpse at the likes of Mikus, Bozak, Stalberg, Hanson and Tlusty make use of this pretty decent deal.

                              - Jeff Blair explains that coach Ron Wilson is prepared to bench Schenn if he is unwilling to play a more agressive, physical style of game. Wilson added that he will not hesitate to insert Gunnarsson quickly into the lineup if someone begins to scuffle.

                              - TSN begins to stir up the early season rumors a little bit by hinting at the possibility that Scott Niedermayer and Fabian Brunnstrom could be on the trading block. While Burke surely loves Scott, there’s already a logjam on defense at it is and the required pricetag would likely be out of Toronto’s range anyways without a 1st round pick to dangle in return. Brunnstrom on the other hand may be an intriguing fit as a skilled young forward, but he has struggled out of the gate thus far and did after all turn down the chance to play for the Leafs last summer.

                              [email protected]

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                                For the second time this week, Mike Komisarek has missed the team practice. He also left early on in the game against the Wild on Tuesday and now Ron Wilson isn’t sure when he will return, or if he’s even able to play this weekend.
                                Update: Burke’s reaction after the GM’s Meeting.

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                                  It started off as a fast paced and strong two-way game for both clubs, but the Maple Leafs just could not keep up with the Wild’s pressure for a full 60 minutes. Minnesota came into this game to make a statement, much like the Leafs did on Saturday night against the Red Wings. There were key chances for the Leafs to score, but a few bad breaks, including costly penalties, and missed opportunities cost the Leafs their 7 game point streak in a loss against the worst team in the Western Conference.

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                                    Tonight, the Toronto Maple Leafs will try and make it 3 wins in a row as they host the Minnesota Wild. Toronto is just 6 points out of a playoff position with 2 games on hand. A win tonight would add to their current point streak of 11 points in their last 7 games.

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                                      - The Toronto Star has an interesting article that mentions the Leafs would be at least open to talk of a second NHL team in the Greater Toronto Area.

                                      - As Mike talked about in his blog, it appears that Ron Wilson will be riding the hot hand with goaltender Jonas Gustavsson until a change needs to be made.

                                      - There are a few preliminary whispers of a possible deal involving a swap of netminders between the Leafs and the Ducks, with Vesa Toskala’s expiring contract heading down south and J.S. Giguere reunited with GM Brian Burke and goaltending coach Francois Allaire.

                                      - Last, but not least, I’ve got a pair of last minute purples available to tomorrow’s night contest against the Wild. A friend of mine was unable to attend and asked me to post it up on MLHS that he’s willing to let them go for cost. Just like last time, this offer is on a first come first serve basis for those reaching me at my email below.

                                      [email protected]

                                        253

                                        The Leafs held practice today in preparation for a busy week. They will have yet another back to back set of games over the weekend, and a few changes in the lineup have been made to kick things off this week.
                                        Update: Jonas Gustavsson starts on Tuesday night!
                                        Update 2: Komisarek probable for Tuesday’s game – Wilson.

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                                          The stats were not in Toronto’s favor. The Red Wings current streak was not in Toronto’s favor. Chris Osgood’s recent play was not in Toronto’s favor. But the Leafs came out last night with such, dare I say it, truculence that fans gave them a standing ovation for their efforts, as well as the Leafs first win at home this season.