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Steven Stamkos

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Team Canada Olympic Hockey Schedule

Team Canada Olympic Mens Hockey Schedule

OLYMPIC MEN'S TOURNAMENT - TEAM CANADA

Preliminary round:
Feb. 13, 12 PM ET: CANADA vs. NORWAY (Group B)
Feb. 14, 12 PM ET: CANADA vs. AUSTRIA (Group B)
Feb. 16, 12 PM ET: CANADA vs. FINLAND (Group B)
Playoff round:
Feb. 18, 3 AM ET: Men's playoff qualifications
Feb. 18, 7:30 AM ET: Men's playoff qualifications
Feb. 18, 12 PM ET: Men's playoff qualifications
Feb. 18, 12 PM ET: Men's playoff qualifications
Feb. 19, 3 AM ET: Men's quarter-finals
Feb. 19, 7:30 AM ET: Men's quarter-finals
Feb. 19, 12 PM ET: Men's quarter-finals
Feb. 19, 12 PM ET: Men's quarter-finals
Feb. 21, 7 AM ET: Men's semifinals
Feb. 21, 12 PM ET: Men's semifinals
Feb. 22, 10 AM ET: BRONZE MEDAL GAME
Feb. 23, 7 AM ET: GOLD MEDAL GAME
Team Canada Olympic Mens Hockey Schedule
Team Canada’s 2014 Sochi Olympic Hockey Schedule. All times are Eastern Standard Time.

Group B

Team Canada Roster

Team Canada Olympic Roster

Left Wing

Center

Right Wing

KunitzChris_1CrosbySidney_1CarterJeff_1
NashRick_1JohnathanToewsSharpPatrick_1
MarleauPatrick_2GetzlafRyan_1
PerryCorey_1
BennJamie_1BergeronPatrice_1TavaresJohn_1

Left Defence

Right Defence

KeithDuncanWeberShea_1
VlasicMarcEdouardDoughtyDrew
BouwmeesterJay_1PietrangeloAlex_1

Goalie

LuongoRoberto_1
PriceCarey_1
Team Canada Olympic Roster Line Combinations, Feb. 10th. 2014

Forwards:
Jamie Benn, Patrice Bergeron, Jeff Carter, Sidney Crosby, Matt Duchene, Ryan Getzlaf, Chris Kunitz, Patrick Marleau, Rick Nash, Corey Perry, Patrick Sharp, Steven Stamkos (injured, will not play), Martin St. Louis, John Tavares, Jonathan Toews

Defensemen:
Jay Bouwmeester, Drew Doughty, Dan Hamhuis, Duncan Keith, Alex Pietrangelo, P.K. Subban, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Shea Weber

Goalies:
Roberto Luongo
Carey Price
Mike Smith

 

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The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics

GROUP A

Team USA Olympic Roster

Goalies: Jimmy Howard, Ryan Miller, Jonathan Quick

Defensemen: John Carlson, Justin Faulk, Cam Fowler, Paul Martin, Ryan McDonagh, Brooks Orpik, Kevin Shattenkirk, Ryan Suter

Forwards: David Backes, Dustin Brown, Ryan Callahan, Patrick Kane, Ryan Kesler, Phil Kessel, T.J. Oshie, Max Pacioretty, Zach Parise, Joe Pavelski, Paul Stastny, Derek Stepan, James van Riemsdyk, Blake Wheeler

Team Russia Olympic Roster

Goaiies: Sergei Bobrovsky, Semyon Varlamov, Alexander Yeryomenko.

Defensemen: Anton Belov, Alexei Emelin, Andrei Markov, Evgeny Medvedev, Nikita Nikitin, Ilya Nikulin, Fedor Tyutin, Slava Voynov.

Forwards: Artem Anisimov, Pavel Datsyuk, Denis Kokarev, Ilya Kovalchuk, Nikolai Kulemin, Evgeni Malkin, Valeri Nichushkin, Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Popov, Alexander Radulov, Alex Semin, Vladimir Tarasenko, Alexei Tereshenko, Viktor Tikhonov.

Team Slovakia Olympic Roster

Goalies: Peter Budaj, Jaroslav Halak, Jan Laco

Defensemen: Ivan Baranka, Dominik Granak, Zdeno Chara, Martin Marincin, Andrej Meszaros, Andrej Sekera, Michal Sersen, Lubomir Visnovsky (injured, will not play)

Forwards: Milan Bartovic, Marian Gaborik (injured, will not play), Branko Radivojevic, Michal Handzus, Marcel Hossa, Marian Hossa, Tomas Jurco, Tomas Kopecky, Tomas Marcinko, Michel Miklik, Peter Ölvecky, Richard Panik, Tomas Surovy, Tomas Tatar, Tomas Zaborsky

Team Slovenia Olympic Roster

Goalies: Luka Gracnar, Andrej Hocevar, Robert Kristan.

Defensemen: Blaz Gregorc, Sabahudin Kovacevic, Ales Kranjc, Ziga Pavlin, Klemen Pretnar, Mitja Robar, Matic Podlipnik, Andrej Tavzelj.

Forwards: Bostjan Golicic, Ziga Jeglic, Anze Kopitar, Anze Kuralt, Jan Mursak, Ales Music, Ziga Pance, Tomaz Razingar, David Rodman, Marcel Rodman, Robert Sabolic, Rok Ticar, Jan Urbas, Miha Verlic.

GROUP B

Team Canada Olympic Roster

Goalies: Roberto Luongo, Carey Price, Mike Smith

Defensemen: Jay Bouwmeester, Drew Doughty, Dan Hamhuis, Duncan Keith, Alex Pietrangelo, P.K. Subban, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Shea Weber

Forwards: Jamie Benn, Patrice Bergeron, Jeff Carter, Sidney Crosby, Matt Duchene, Ryan Getzlaf, Chris Kunitz, Patrick Marleau, Rick Nash, Corey Perry, Patrick Sharp, Steven Stamkos (injured, will not play), Martin St. Louis, John Tavares, Jonathan Toews

Team Finland Olympic Roster

Goalies: Kari Lehtonen, Antti Niemi, Tuukka Rask

Defensemen: Lasse Kukkonen, Juuso Hietanen, Sami Lepistö, Olli Maatta, Sami Salo, Kimmo Timonen, Ossi Väänänen, Sami Vatanen

Forwards: Juhamatti Aaltonen, Aleksander Barkov, Valtteri Filppula (injured, will not play), Mikael Granlund, Jarkko Immonen, Jussi Jokinen, Olli Jokinen, Mikko Koivu (injured, will not play), Leo Komarov, Petri Kontiola, Lauri Korpikoski, Jori Lehterä, Antti Pihlström, Tuomo Ruutu, Sakari Salminen, Teemu Selänne

Team Norway Olympic Roster

Goalies: Lars Haugen, Lars Volden, Steffen Soberg.

Defensemen: Alexander Bonsaksen, Jonas Holos, Henrik Solberg, Daniel Sorvik, Ole-Kristian Tollefsen, Mats Trygg, Henrik Odegaard.

Forwards: Morten Ask, Anders Bastiansen, Robin Dahlstrom, Kristian Forsberg, Mads Hansen, Marius Holtet, Sondre Olden, Ken Andre Olimb, Mathis Olimb, Mats Rosseli Olsen, Niklas Roest, Martin Roymark, Per-Age Skroder, Patrick Thoresen, Mats Zuccarello.

Team Austria Olympic Roster

Goalies: Bernhard Starkbaum, Rene Swette, Fabian Weinhandl.

Defensemen: Mario Altmann, Florian Iberer, Andre Lakos, Robert Lukas, Thomas Pock, Matthias Trattnig, Stefan Ulmer, Gerhard Unterluggauer.

Forwards: Michael Grabner, Raphael Herburger, Thomas Hundertpfund, Matthias Iberer, Thomas Koch, Andreas Kristler, Manuel Latusa, Brian Lebler, Daniel Oberkofler, Michael Raffl, Thomas Raffl, Oliver Setzinger, Thomas Vanek, Daniel Welser.

GROUP C

Team Sweden Olympic Roster

Goalies: Jhonas Enroth, Jonas Gustavsson, Henrik Lundqvist.

Defensemen: Alexander Edler, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Jonathan Ericsson, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Marcus Johansson, Erik Karlsson, Niklas Kronwall, Johnny Oduya, Henrik Sedin (Injured, will not play), Henrik Tallinder.

Forwards: Daniel Alfredsson, Nicklas Backstrom, Patrik Berglund, Jimmie Ericsson, Loui Eriksson, Johan Franzen (Injured; will not play), Carl Hagelin, Marcus Kruger, Gabriel Landeskog, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Jakob Silfverberg, Alexander Steen, Henrik Zetterberg.

Team Czech Republic Olympic Roster

Goalies: Ondrej Pavelec, Alexander Salak, Jakub Kovar

Defensemen: Michal Barinka, Radko Gudas, Tomas Kaberle, Lukas Krajicek, Zbynek Michalek, Ladislav Smid, Marek Zidlicky

Forwards: Roman Cervenka, Patrik Elias, Michael Frolik, Martin Hanzal, Ales Hemsky, Jaromir Jagr, David Krejci, Milan Michalek, Petr Nedved, Jiri Novotny, Ondrej Palat, Tomas Plekanec, Vladimir Sobotka, Jakub Voracek.

Team Switzerland Olympic Roster

Goalies: Reto Berra, Jonas Hiller, Tobias Stephan

Defensemen: Severin Blindenbacher, Rafael Diaz, Philippe Furrer, Roman Josi, Mathias Seger, Mark Streit, Julien Vauclair, Yannick Weber

Forwards: Andres Ambühl, Matthias Bieber, Simon Bodenmann, Damien Brunner, Luca Cunti, Ryan Gardner, Denis Hollenstein, Simon Moser, Nino Niederreiter, Martin Plüss , Kevin Romy, Reto Suri, Morris Trachsler, Roman Wick

Team Latvia Olympic Roster

Goalies: Kristers Gudlevskis, Edgars Masalskis, Ervins Mustukovs.

Defensemen: Oskars Bartulis, Ralfs Freibergs, Arturs Kulda, Sandis Ozolinsh, Georgijs Pujacs, Krisjanis Redlihs, Arvids Rekis, Kristaps Sotnieks.

Forwards: Armands Berzins, Martins Cipulis, Lauris Darzins, Kaspars Daugavins, Zemgus Girgensons, Miks Indrasis, Koba Jass, Martins Karsums, Ronalds Kenins, Vitalijs Pavlovs, Mikelis Redlihs, Janis Sprukts, Juris Stals, Herberts Vasiljevs.

Olympic Mens Hockey Schedule

OLYMPIC MEN'S HOCKEY TOURNAMENT

Preliminary round:
Feb. 12, 12 PM ET: Czech Republic vs. Sweden (Group C)
Feb. 12, 12 PM ET: Latvia vs. Switzerland (Group C)
Feb. 13, 3 AM ET: Finland vs. Austria (Group B)
Feb. 13, 7:30 AM ET: Russia vs. Slovenia (Group A)
Feb. 13, 7:30 AM ET: Slovakia vs. USA (Group A)
Feb. 13, 12 PM ET: CANADA vs. NORWAY (Group B)
Feb. 14, 3 AM ET: Czech Republic vs. Latvia (Group C)
Feb. 14, 7:30 AM ET: Sweden vs. Switzerland (Group C)
Feb. 14, 12 PM ET: CANADA vs. AUSTRIA (Group B)
Feb. 14, 12 PM ET: Norway vs. Finland (Group B)
Feb. 15, 3 AM ET: Slovakia vs. Slovenia (Group A)
Feb. 15, 7:30 AM ET: USA vs. Russia (Group A)
Feb. 15, 12 PM ET: Switzerland vs. Czech Republic (Group C)
Feb. 15, 12 PM ET: Sweden vs. Latvia (Group C)
Feb. 16, 3 AM ET: Austria vs. Norway (Group B)
Feb. 16, 7:30 AM ET: Russia vs. Slovakia (Group A)
Feb. 16, 7:30 AM ET: Slovenia vs. USA (Group A)
Feb. 16, 12 PM ET: CANADA vs. FINLAND (Group B)

Playoff round:

Feb. 18, 3 AM ET: PLAYOFF QUALIFICATION - Austria vs. Slovenia
Feb. 18, 7:30 AM ET: PLAYOFF QUALIFICATION - Norway vs. Russia
Feb. 18, 12 PM ET: PLAYOFF QUALIFICATION - Latvia vs. Switzerland
Feb. 18, 12 PM ET: PLAYOFF QUALIFICATION - Czech Republic vs. Slovakia
Feb. 19, 3 AM ET: QUARTERFINAL - Slovenia vs. Sweden
Feb. 19, 7:30 AM ET: QUARTERFINAL - Russia vs. Finland
Feb. 19, 12 PM ET: QUARTERFINAL - Czech Republic vs. USA
Feb. 19, 12 PM ET: QUARTERFINAL - Latvia vs. Canada
Feb. 21, 7 AM ET: SEMIFINAL - SWEDEN vs. FINLAND
Feb. 21, 12 PM ET: SEMIFINAL - USA vs. CANADA
Feb. 22, 10 AM ET: BRONZE MEDAL GAME -
TBD
Feb. 23, 7 AM ET: GOLD MEDAL GAME -
TBD
2014 Sochi Olympic's Mens Hockey Schedule

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Carl Gunnarsson

The Toronto Maple Leafs have avoided arbitration with defenseman Carl Gunnarsson, with the two sides agreeing to terms on a three-year contract. TSN’s Darren Dreger is reporting it’s worth $9.45 million.  Salary is listed at : $2.85m, $3.15m & $3.45m.

The 26-year-old Gunnarsson had one goal and 15 points in 37 regular-season games for the Maple Leafs in 2012-13 and added an assist in seven Stanley Cup Playoff games.

A seventh-round pick in the 2007 NHL Draft, Gunnarsson has 12 goals and 69 points in 224 games for the Maple Leafs.

Michael Stevens Stephens had a great year end write up on Gunnarsson. He has this to say about re-signing him.

But when looking at Carl Gunnarsson’s future with the Toronto Maple Leafs, it isn’t a question of ‘if?’ It’s a question of ‘how much?’ The soon-to-be 27 year old is a restricted free agent this summer (on account of a late birthday) and you’ve got think he’s the third highest priority to re-sign after fellow RFAs Nazem Kadri and Cody Franson.

On the most recent Leaf Report podcast, both James Mirtle and Jonas Siegel agreed that Gunnarsson’s cap hit would likely fall between $2.5 and 2.9 million.  Given the number of tough-as-nails minutes he plays, his chemistry with Phaneuf and burgeoning offensive game, I’d reckon his money will be closer to 3.5 million come July 5.

Whatever the cost, I wouldn’t miss the money, as 30-point defensemen and shutdown defensemen are not usually contained within the body of one man, and to have one so cheaply is doubly rare.  The Leafs may need to improve their D corps, but Dave Nonis has real keeper in Carl Gunnarsson.

Scoring Stats Goals Assists Ice Time
Season Age Tm Lg GP G A PTS GC +/- PIM EV PP SH GW EV SH PP S S% TOI ATOI
2009-10 23 TOR NHL 43 3 12 15 5 8 10 3 0 0 0 9 1 2 45 6.7 922 21:26
2010-11 24 TOR NHL 68 4 16 20 7 -2 14 3 1 0 1 13 0 3 69 5.8 1240 18:15
2011-12 25 TOR NHL 76 4 15 19 6 -9 20 4 0 0 0 9 0 6 89 4.5 1649 21:42
2012-13 26 TOR NHL 37 1 14 15 4 5 14 1 0 0 0 14 0 0 28 3.6 787 21:17
Career NHL 224 12 57 69 22 2 58 11 1 0 1 45 1 11 231 5.2 4599 20:32
Provided by Hockey-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/22/2013.

Here is a list of comparable cap hits among defencemen.

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6 Leafs invited to Olympic Camps

Per TSN:

Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews lead a list of 47 players invited to a summer orientation camp for the Canadian men’s Olympic hockey team.

The newcomers on the list include young guns like defencemen Alex Pietrangelo and P.K. Subban and forwards Steven Stamkos, John Tavares, Claude Giroux and Brad Marchand.

The others are goalie Roberto Luongo, defencemen Dan Boyle, Drew Doughty, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Shea Weber, and forwards Patrice Bergeron, Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Rick Nash, Mike Richards, Eric Staal and Joe Thornton.

The goalies are Luongo, who was the starter in the 2010 gold-medal game, as well as Carey Price, Mike Smith, Corey Crawford and Braden Holtby.

The other defencemen are Karl Alzner, Jay Bouwmeester, Mike Green, Dan Hamhuis, Travis Hamonic, Kristopher Letang, Marc Methot, Dion Phaneuf, Marc Staal and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

The other forwards are Jeff Carter, Logan Couture, Matt Duchene, Chris Kunitz, Andrew Ladd, Milan Lucic, James Neal, Patrick Sharp, Jordan Staal and Martin St.Louis.

Wingers Nikolai Kulemin and Leo Komarov were invited to orientation camps for the Russian and Finnish Olympic squads.

USA Hockey had their roster announced Monday afternoon and Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner, wingers Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk were invited.

Leafs Links

 

 

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Pittsburgh Penguins v Toronto Maple Leafs

After a good comeback/confidence-building game against the Tampa Bay Lighting, the Toronto Maple Leafs  have perhaps created more questions than answers. The Penalty Kill keeps improving (now 6th in the East) and, even as a “work in progress” defensively, they can at least score in bunches to get themselves out of trouble. They are starting to show the signs that the elite teams in the league show on a regular basis. While they are probably a couple of roster moves away from being mentioned in the same breath as a Pittsburgh Penguins, the rebuild is starting to see the light of day, it appears.

It was one of the first times this season that Nazem Kadri was paired against another top offensive line, but he did it the whole game. We’re not talking about any ol’ line, but the best goal scorer in the league and his better-than-ppg-avg wingman. He beat Steven Stamkos on draws, engaged in the game physically and on the score board. It was yet another coming out party for Kadri and what a nice live viewing for the 30 GMs that were in town to discuss various NHL issues. Most were at the Air Canada Centre taking in the game against Tampa.

Up until this game, Randy Carlyle has been riding the Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolai Kulemin and—at least most of the time—Jay McClement line hard against the other team’s top lines. Too much so? That’s hard to say. Kulemin has had many opportunities that he simply is not bearing down on; he was on pace for 10 goals this season before his 2-goal effort against Tampa Bay on a line with Kadri.

Grabovski was paired with MacArthur and Frattin against Tampa and was still looking a little lost. As Grabo goes, those two go. And something that was enlightening in Randy Carlyle’s post-game  interview:

The one thing that we are going to do is we’re going to test Kadri against the best players,” Carlyle said after his team snapped a five-game winless skid with a 4-2 victory over the Lightning. “He wants that, he cherishes it and tonight it worked for him.”

“I think this is just another step in the maturing of a young hockey player,” Carlyle said of his decision to increase Kadri’s responsibility. “And I’m sure there’s going to be some speed bumps along the way and he’s going to turn the puck over when we don’t want him to … [but] the good things outweigh the poor judgments that he’s making by 10 to 2.”

Could #FreeGardiner and #FreeGrabo happen in the same week? It looks like Kadri wants to run with the top match-ups and wants the ice-time that is associated with it. Time will tell if he is up to the task, but this appears to be equal parts a praising and a scolding. Praise for Kadri and his excellent play to date, and a scolding for Grabovski who appeared, to me at least, that he didn’t like all his defensive zone face-offs and having to skate 200ft for his goals. It could very well be a case of lost in translation, but changing brands of sticks isn’t going to help Grabovski at this stage. He’s looking lost and it’s affecting his confidence badly.

Also troubling—to my eye—is how ineffective the Phil Kessel line is. Clearly, Phil Kessel’s game is all about speed, attacking off the rush, his release and his quick hands around the net. This may be oddly timed because Kessel is on a 5 game point streak, a testament to his ability to produce regardless of his circumstances. Kessel tallied a single assist last night giving him four goals and four assists in that span. He sits second on the team in scoring with 28 points but shifts go by where I hardly notice Bozak, him or JVR. They are clicking to a certain degree, but they are not dominating the way that Kessel and Lupul were last year with the absence of a legit number one centerman.

James van Riemsdyk, while a great addition to this team and yet another lop-sided trade from Brian Burke, is reaping the benefits from playing with Kessel, it’s just that Kessel is not reaping the benefits of playing with JVR as much as he could from a center and a winger who could play the game as his pace. MacArthur, Frattin and now Lupul have all “found chemistry” with Kadri. I think it’s more of a case of Kadri is just making everyone around him that much better. Lupul can convert those chances better than the others can. JVR would, more than likely, benefit from a good centerman more than Lupul, who has shown in the past that he can play just fine without one—no offence, Bozak.

Tyler Bozak, it seems more than ever before in his career, is playing way above his head on the 1st line. It’s dragging his, Kessel’s and JVR’s play down. He’s constantly a step behind  and is not able to make the plays that the other two are able to.  If you were to change JVR and Lupul, that would be magnified.

Grabovski, if we can believe what Carlyle says about Kadri, will be freed up to experiment up and down the lineup.  The only logical reason that Kessel and Grabovski have never played extended periods of time together is because, it can be assumed, they both love to have the puck on their stick and both love to carry the puck through the neutral zone—they play a similar game, not a complementary game.

The caveat to that, I would contest, is that elite players will figure out how to get the puck to each other. Grabovski can skate, stick handle, navigate through traffic and shoot at absolutely top speed–the same as Kessel can. They’re good enough to play on the PP together, but that is a different discipline where it’s rarely ever off the rush and is instead done with puck movement inside the offensive blueline. Both players’ strength is scoring off the rush and, if you are going to keep Kessel on this team long term and get the most out of him in his prime years (his peak year is historically this year—his 25th year), you need a center that is as fast as him and not lagging behind the play like Bozak constantly is. I don’t think a “Big 1C” would work with Kessel’s game very well.  If Kessel, Grabovski and Lupul could play their game at top-speed like they can—and execute—it would be a devastating line that would be able to handle some defensive assignments that Kessel/Bozak/JVR just aren’t able to do right now.

Carlyle is not afraid to put the blender away and try players together for more than 1 shift together. As much as arm coaches scream for change, it’s refreshing to have a coach that will play a line together for a full game, and even for bunches of games before he puts the blender to it. The one thing that has never happened with Kessel and Grabovski is them being played together, on the same line, for a week of games (or more).

Tyler Bozak is a solid hockey player trying to keep up with an elite goal scorer and an elite skater in Kessel and he just can’t keep up with the speed at which the plays are made.  Bozak playing with MacArthur and Frattin on the third line would be a much better fit—soft starts, good chances at dominating the faceoff dot—and starting each play with all-important possession—and playing with players of his calibre and his foot speed. It will improve his output tremendously if he can slow the game down to his speed and play with two good, solid wingers in MacArthur and Frattin.

Under Ron Wilson, this experiment would likely have never happened; he had all the opportunity in the world to try it. Under Randy Carlyle, if he does experiment with them on the same line, you would hope that, in keeping with tradition, he’ll give them the appropriate allotment of games together to either sink or swim with this idea for the rest of the season and into the playoffs.

As far as statistical data, Left Wing Lock is said to be wildly inaccurate, but it’s all we have.

  1. 2010/2011 Even-Strength Forward Combinations
  2. 2011/2012 Even-Strength Forward Combinations
  3. 2012/2013 Even-Strength Forward Combinations

There’s enough data there to say that Grabovski and Kessel have hardly played together at even-strength.

Toronto’s 1st line centerman might have been under their nose all along.

986

The Tampa Bay Lighting (13-15-1) are in town to take on the Toronto Maple Leafs (15-12-2).

The other day, Randy Carlyle called the Leafs’ inability to initiate clean breakouts and avoid getting hemmed in their own zone “the big mystery with this group.” He’s taken steps toward resolving it with the addition of both John Michael-Liles and Jake Gardiner to the lineup, who will apparently play together on a pairing tonight as the defence takes a shape much closer to what many armchair coaches were penciling together before the season. It will be interesting to see how the pair affect the breakout and overall puck movement off the backend. Gardiner will also look to inject some life into a powerplay that’s 0 for its last 19.

Speaking of interesting quotes from the other day, Dave Nonis was asked if the Leafs were in the midst of a downfall akin to last season, with his team currently on a 0-3-2 skid. Nonis said, “The one difference I would draw – I just went over the last 5 games – I think there was only one game where we weren’t happy with the performance and the effort. Last year, when things were going poorly, were were unhappy with the effort a lot more than that.” So let’s hope that translates into an upturn in results before the Leafs play their way out of the playoff picture.

The Leafs were hurt by an off outing from Ben Scrivens in their last meeting with the Lightning. Facing their first non-playoff opponent in five games, this is also a good time to get their first win in five games. James Reimer gets the start.

Liles and Gardiner form the second pairing, with Kostka remaining in the press box for the third straight game. Phaneuf and Gunnarsson will be tasked with the Stamkos and St. Louis head-to-head. Vinny Lecavalier is out with a broken foot.

[table “104” not found /]

1243
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Tampa Bay Lightning

Tonight, the Toronto Maple Leafs (10-6-0) take on the Tampa Bay Lighting (7-6-1) and look to replicate last year’s success in a season series that saw Toronto outscore Tampa 20-7 in their 4-game battle. The Leafs have won six of seven on the road while Tampa Bay Lightning have dropped their last three on home ice.

“We’re still very much a work in progress,” were Randy Carlyle’s words after the team earned its 10th win in its sixteenth game last night against the Panthers. Complacency is being beaten out of the this club, with the coaches keenly aware of the type of start the Leafs got off to last season and where that ended up. The Leafs are looking to reverse their fortunes this season and seem to be a more detail-oriented club with better coaching and solid 1-2 goaltending from Scrivens and Reimer, who at last check had the best combined GAA in the league.

565

Boy the playoffs have been pretty good this year huh? News is slow in Leafland nowadays so let’s talk some hockey.

On Tuesday night, I witnessed Sidney Crosby light up the Senators to the tune of a 4 point night, bringing his series totals up to 11 points in 4 games played. And that Malkin kid who also scored, ain’t too shabby either. Last night, I was privy to a a pair of lasers launched by Ovechkin which basically choked the life out of the Bell Centre. To cap off the evening, I was wowed by a 20 year old Drew Doughty, who has 6 points through his first 4 career playoff games, and thought to myself that this kid might already be the best defenseman in the NHL. So then I started thinking: If you could pluck a single player off any roster to build a franchise around who would it be?

Do you go with the second year co-winner of the Rocket Richard trophy in Steven Stamkos? Do you go with the Golden boy Sidney Crosby? Maybe one of the Russian snipers in Malkin or Ovechkin? Honestly, I’d have a helluva time turning down Doughty… the kid is a fricking monster… and defense wins championships. So there you go.

    430

    (On the road … so here is a quick thread for tonight’s action.)

    The Toronto Maple Leafs (21-33-12), who are coming off a hard-fought overtime win over the Boston Bruins, are host to the Tampa Bay Lightning (27-27-11), tonight at 7pm.

    The Leafs, who are all but officially out of the playoff race, are playing for jobs next season. To that end, the young players on the roster have put together a string of impressive efforts, and if their resilient play continues, few players will anonymously refer to them as an “AHL team”.

      70

      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.

        73

        Coming off an uninspiring performance during a 4-3 road loss to the Atlanta Thrashers on Tuesday, the Maple Leafs look to rebound tonight with a more energetic effort in Tampa Bay against a struggling Lightning squad.

        The Lightning currently sit 13th in the Eastern Conference with 48 points, 5 ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs and 4 out of the 8th and final playoff spot. For the Leafs to get back into the race, a victory tonight, and another Saturday against the Panthers, will be essential.

          165

          My Team Canada Roster selections may seem a little vanilla, but they’ve been selected to play out various situations. Penalty killing, power play and balance on all the forward units took precedent over sheer offensive/defensive ability.

            691

            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.

              709

              As the Leafs prepare for the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight, it occurs to many fans that while the Leafs are looking strong as of late, the fate of their playoffs hopes certainly lives and dies on the team’s ability to win in extra time. While it does not show immediately, the 7 extra points from overtime losses would still have them in 14th in the East, but it would have them with 22 points on the year and within 3 points for a playoff position. Toronto has had plenty of practice playing 4 on 4 overtimes and participating in shootouts, it’s time to start capitalizing on these extra points.

                34

                Aside from the occasional hardcore junior hockey followers, the majority of NHL fans will track the progress of their team’s top young prospects through highlight clips or boxscores. For the most part, the development and potential NHL impact of a young player then becomes a function of the amount of goals and assists they record at that level. I mean heck, it’s hard for Islanders fans to look at the 356 points that John Tavares has scored over the past 3 seasons in the OHL without getting excited. And rightfully so. All indications are that he’s going to be a very special player for a long, long time.

                On the flip side, you’ve also got the purists who value a keen scouting eye to judge traits such as leadership ability, instincts, emotional drive, among other skills that cannot be represented numerically. Back in March, when news spread of Tavares breaking the all-time OHL goal scoring record held by Peter Lee, the first reaction by many was “Who the heck is Peter Lee?” Just some guy who scored 81 goals and 161 points in his last junior season is all… Well, point taken. Stats and numbers don’t mean everything, but the question is: how much DO they mean?

                  1

                  Now that we’re in the TRUE off-season (in which nothing usually happens until September) I came across a little rumor not started by Eklund that raised an eyebrow, so I decided to pass it on. Keep in mind, I don’t even know the people personally who brought this up so it’s definitely peculation as of right now, but still interesting to say the least. It involves the Leafs, Lightning and Blues.

                    26

                    For the second year in a row, Team Canada fell 2-1 to the Russians in yesterday’s gold medal game at the 2009 World Hockey Championships in Switzerland. Ilya Bryzgalov made 37 saves and the Russian defense managed for the most part to keep a prolific Canadian offense in check.

                      101

                      I’ve read a lot of comments and feedback on everyone’s take for this pick but this is what has been making the rounds in the rumor mill – yes, rumors are still circulating through the playoffs. Keep in mind that this is pure speculation and isn’t exactly a mainstream rumor, but it is interesting and perhaps logical.

                        19

                        There’s the notion that signing Christian Hanson and Tyler Bozak and other College Free Agents allows the Buds to trade off other picks, perhaps even to move up in the draft.

                        The justification is having signed these free agent Collegians fills roster spots allowing them to maneuver around the draft, possibly even moving up to land a Hedman or Tavares at the number one or two spot.

                        (My take is forgetting either of them and draft Brampton Battalion forward, Matt Duchene, but that’s a blog for another day.)

                          419

                          With Files from Gil Brown

                          Brian Burke doesn’t take credit for the Maple Leafs drafting Luke Schenn 5th overall in 2008, but he’s sure glad they did.  Under different circumstances, which we’ll get into over a series of posts, Burke’s Ducks would have been in the mix for the Saskatoon native at the 2008 draft.

                          Fortune shined on the blue and white allowing them to trade up to 5th overall pick.  There was an associated cost from their original seventh spot, but the end result is a potential future Maple Leafs captain of the Scott Stevens mold.

                          Unbelievable as it seems; perhaps, even laughable, Schenn, could have been wearing Ducks colors.

                          The story doesn’t begin in Anaheim, however.  It starts in Edmonton.

                            86

                            It’s Draft Day 2009. Your Brian Burke. It’s the First Round and it is just announced that you are now on the clock.

                            Tavares, Hedman, Kane, MSP, Duchene, Cowen, Kadri have all been selected. The name Brayden Schenn is still up there and is who you plan on selecting, when all the sudden the phone rings….