One of the Hot Stove readers asked for an update on how the Leafs have fared without Mike Van Ryn. And the results are actually quite surprising.
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. [more…]
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.
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.Â At least, much deeper down the depth chart. [more…]
Leafs coach, Ron Wilson made it clear, Nazem Kadri will not be getting a nine-game audition this season, just to be sent down to the OHL London Knights. Answering questions in the media scrum after the scrimmage at training camp in the Mastercard Centre of Hockey Excellence, Wilson was adamant about being against an audition for the young pivot. In order to stick with the Leafs, the 1st round pick in the 2009 draft will have to beat out one of Mikhail Grabovski, or Matt Stajan for a top-6 role in order to stick, and as of Wilson right now, both are â€˜way aheadâ€™ of Kadri for a spot at the moment.
Kadri will get every opportunity to earn a top-6 spot, but unless he completely overwhelms, expect to see him in London for the entire season.
More notes from Training Camp, Day 2.
San Jose Sharks (1) vs Anaheim Ducks (8)
Preseason odds: Sharks 10/1 Ducks 12/1
Last 10: Sharks 5-4-1, Ducks 7-2-1
Season Series: Sharks win 4-2-0
The Maple Leafs have recalled Justin Pogge from the Toronto Marlies for tonightâ€™s game in Buffalo. Toronto looks to rebound from an overtime loss last night at the hands of Bryan McCabe and his Panthers, while the Buffalo Sabres are making a pitch for their fourth straight win at home.
* Justin Pogge got his â€œpants pulled downâ€, plain and simple. Considering he was playing his second NHL game, and his teammates were displaying their best Andy Wozniewski impersonations, Iâ€™d say heâ€™s deserving of a mulligan. While a couple of the goals were stoppable, it begs the question if ANY goaltender could of garnered a solid performance with the abysmal performances that were displayed in front of the netminder last night.
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.
A week ago, several people, including the illustrious Howard Berger at Hockeybuzz, had written of not only the entire hockey season in Toronto, but certainly the first game, against the mighty Detroit Red Wings. [more…]
From Micheal Aldred...
The Toronto Maple Leafs will be watching Luke Schenn with intensity tonight as the rookie is ready to show the world what he can do against arguably the best in the world in Evgeni Malkin. Not far behind him will goalie Justin Pogge be looking to do the same thing. Tonight, however, there will be a stronger cast on the ice for the buds.