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I couldn’t catch the game tonight (count me among the lucky ones), but the stats tell the story — outhit 28-7 and outscored 4-1 by the worst team in the league. 4 goals conceded on 27 shots. The Leafs again prove to be the tonic to a struggling team’s woes, in this case a team that hadn’t won yet in the month of December. A real Leafs’ goaltending controversy is brewing. It’s time for Ron Wilson to give Justin Pogge another shot and hope he continues to shine in the spotlight so that Brian Burke can ship out Vesa Toskala before his value is non-existent, which it probably isn’t far off from already. Toskala’s recorded a putrid .882 save percentage so far this season and allowed 12 goals on his last 54 shots. Additionally, he seems to downplay his numerous blemishes with “just one of those nights,” and “some times those things happen” rationalizations. Still love him, Wilson? I know, Toskala has somewhat unfairly become the whipping boy after some pretty lame efforts from the Leafs as a whole, but you only have to look as far as a team like Ottawa to see how deflating anemic goaltending can be to a team. I don’t think Burke will wait long before addressing what has developed into a serious problem in the short-term and possibly the long-term, depending on how Pogge responds to [hopefully] further testing in the coming days. The trade freeze has been lifted as of a few hours ago and certainly a sense of impending change is in the air.
I’ll turn it over to you guys.
Ed. Note: Thanks to all our readers and contributors for making the first four months at MLHS a success and cheers to a great year ahead. Merry Christmas!
Merry Christmas folks…..this is a small attempt at poetic humour…hope you all enjoy. -Rib
The Maple Leafs, now bearers of a winning record at 14-13-6, are looking to continue their offensive onslaught against the league’s fifth worst defense as they return home to host the underachieving Dallas Stars.
Ron Wilson appears to have assembled a winning combination up front. After an 8-5 beating at the hands of the Boston Bruins, Wilson re-united the line of Nik Antropov, Matt Stajan and Alexei Ponikarovsky atop the roster, kept in tact the dynamic third line of Jason Blake, Dominic Moore and Jeremy Williams and it’s resulted in two dominating wins by a collective score of 13-5. For the first time since early October, the Leafs have surpassed the .500 mark at 14-13-6 after winning five of their last six.
As they hit the road for a three-game away stretch, the Maple Leafs look to extend their three game winning streak but must start by conquering the impenetrable fortress known as the TD Banknorth Garden, home to the Eastern Conference-leading Boston Bruins. The 21-5-4 Bruins boast an 11-1-1 home record and are currently riding an eleven game home winning streak during which they’ve outscored their opponents by a collective score of 53-22. The big, bad Bruins are back.
Anton Stralman has been sent down to the Marlies presumably to accommodate the return of Jonas Frogren off the injury reserve come Tuesday against New Jersey (or possibly because he was sitting the press box & not playing). In keeping with the “if you come to play you stay” mantra that Ron Wilson has been preaching, Jaime Sifers’ run with the big club has been extended.
Stralman was outwardly displeased last time he was demoted to the AHL, which makes one a little uneasy about his potential reaction this time around. Due to waiver restrictions, it was going to have to be one of Sifers or Stralman, and there’s no doubt Sifers is deserving of an extended stay with the big club based on his performance so far.
For your perusal:
Williams & White score to rally Leafs to 2-1 win at the HSBC
The Maple Leafs escaped from the House of Pain with two points tonight and, better yet, their two call-ups were superlative in the process. Jeremy Williams sniped his second in as many games from the half boards to even the game at ones late in the second frame before Ian White beat Ryan Miller with a seeing eye double to give the Leafs the edge in the third. Fellow call-up Jaime Sifers was a physical force on the blue-line, throwing a team-leading three hits and finishing second only to Jeff Finger in terms of ice-time (a resounding 21 minutes including 5 minutes of short-handed time). Sifers played a role in a critical penalty kill in the late stages.
Be sure to check out Scot Louck’s post-game thoughts below.
First of six meetings between Leafs & Sabres this season
The Maple Leafs renew acquaintances with their northeast rival Buffalo Sabres at the HBSC tonight, a building home to both some chilling and some rosy Leaf memories, from the Bryan McCabe own goal and other monumental Leaf collapses to some pretty all-around satisfying Ws.
After enjoying his much-deserved holiday, Cliff Fletcher will sit down with Brian Burke in early January to structure his new role within the organization as per the man himself. It is expected he’ll assume a role in the senior adviser capacity.
Coming off the heels of two lopsided losses, the Maple Leafs are headed back home, where they will face the offensive firepower of the Washington Capitals.
You couldn’t help but feel the Southwest Coast whammy was afflicting the Maple Leafs once again as Alexander Frolov streaked in alone and beat Vesa Toskala less than a minute into the three game road spread.
Random thoughts, 23 games in:
Matt Stajan is the leading scorer on the Leafs. Let me repeat that: Matt Stajan is the leading scorer on the Leafs, and is on pace for close to 70 points this season. One of the great unheralded results of a rebuilding project is the chance to see former role players excel in new roles, and Stajan has certainly proved that he is more than simply an effective checker and penalty-killer.
The Leafs held a press conference today with Brian Burke. Here are some interesting comments on behalf of the new President and GM.
With the Leafs blowing 3-0 and 4-2 leads, eventually leading to a 5-4 overtime loss, we have now hit what can pretty muchÂ be considered the quarter pole of the ’08-’09 season.
Months of uncertainty and speculation are likely to come to an end in the next week when Brian Burke and his associates meet with Richard Peddie and the MLSE. The groups have already spoken albeit lawyer to lawyer last weekend to confirm the Anaheim Ducks had signed papers allowing their former GM to talk with other teams and if reports are to be believed, groundwork was laid on the forthcoming negotiations.
Ed. Note: Richard-Steven Williams, a UK-based NHL and European hockey enthusiast, will be joining the MLHS blogging team.
It’s fantastic to have Richard aboard, he’s an immense talent.
Here’s his piece on Ron Wilson from a week ago.
From a source:
“I’m hearing Leafs will try to sign him immediately upon his release and Burke will be very reasonable in terms of money/term/bonuses to get the job-he really wants it. There is still some issue as to how long the Ducks will expect to keep him on which is clouding the timing somewhat. Leafs really like what Fletch has done and would happily let him finish out the year, but without a guarantee that Holland et al will be available or interested they have no choice but to get this done now.
A game rife with goals, end-to-end action, controversy and paroxysms of passion… without getting into specifics, this was a belter of a tilt tonight and one that hinted at a renewed rivalry between two age-old foes.
Sorry for the delay guys.Â We greatly appreciate the flood of great questions and comments, and are sorry to say we couldn’t get to them all. We’ve all been pretty busy lately for a variety of reasons, so without any further ado, let’s get started on the 1st ever Maple Leafs HotStove Hockey Panel Discussion.
Forming our panel for this session is Alec Brownscombe of Hockeybuzz and MLHS godfather, Gus Katsaros of Mckeen’s and MLHS fantasy expert, and myself, Alex Tran, an MLHS blogger.
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