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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!!).
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.
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.
With Kessel and Gustavsson integrating themselves into the lineup, the team seems poised to break off a big-time run to put themselves back into the Eastern Conference’s playoff picture. The team is playing very well of late and continued to build on that with an impressive 5-1 victory at home against the Detroit Red Wings on Hall of Fame night.
Update: During post-game media scrum, Wilson says Komisarek’s injury not serious.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are back on the road tonight with a matchup against fellow Eastern bottomer Carolina Hurricanes. It will be a weekend of back to back games for the Leafs as they head home on Saturday to play host to the Detroit Red Wings (a game I will be liveblogging). But there is a significant question at hand for the Leafs heading into tonight’s game: Can a team aiming for the playoffs beat the worst team in the league?
Leafs fans have been waiting for John Mitchell to step up and start burying his opportunities to legitimize himself as a top 6 forward, where depth is lacking. At Wednesday’s practice, he received that opportunity and looks to excel at it as he was paired up with sniper Phil Kessel to establish some chemistry before Friday night’s matchup with the Carolina Hurricanes.
At long last, Phil Kessel will don the blue and white as he takes to the ice against the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight. Â He has received final clearance (after undergoing a few tests on his repaired shoulder) and will be lining up alongside Jason Blake and Matt Stajan. Â While the focus will undoubtedly be on Kessel’s performance in his first game, the Leafs as a whole must maintain their recent level of play and take a win from the visiting team tonight.
Reports indicate that Phil Kessel will definitely be in the lineup tomorrow night against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Â The much-anticipated debut of the young winger has been a hot topic of late with information surfacing in the last few weeks that he would be ready before the previously upheld mid-November estimate. Â With the Leafs playing much better in recent games, it will be interesting to see how Kessel fits in. Â Fans should not expect him to be completely in form yet, as he will need some time to get into game-shape.
It is their second meeting this year, and the first played a big part on blinding fans for both teams in the belief that each were elite competitors. Since that opening night, the Habs have on 5-7-0, while the Leafs have gone 1-7-2. But there are always upsides, and tonight marks to start to capitalize on those specifics.
The Buffalo Sabres are first in their division with a 7-1-1 record, first in the league with average shots per game (36), and have won every game in which the opposition out-shot them. Ryan Miller also holds the best goals against average (1.60) and save percentage (0.944) in the NHL. The Leafs visit them tonight in an effort to try and ruin many of those stats.
Joe Bowen checks in from Vancouver and discusses the current predicament for the Leafs in goal. Leafs brought four goaltenders with them to Vancouver. Brian Burke discusses his lack of interest if he meets with Gillis or not.
It seems just a few months after an investigation was done on the Maple Leafs regarding the Vancouver Canucks Sedin twins prior to free agency day, the Leafs face yet another potential charge for tampering. Once again, it involves the Canucks, and Vancouver’s GM Mike Gillis is not standing back this time.
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.
This time of year pretty much everyone is doing a mock draft of some sort.Â So, with one week to go until the Entry Draft, I figure it’s time I chip in with my two cents on what may or may not unfold with the top 10 picks come June 26.
Note that the draft projections listed here are made based on current draft positions, and are not reflective of any possible trades involving the top 10 picks.
The interview between league Commissioner, Gary Bettman, on Toronto radio station, FAN590 segment “The Game Plan” featuring Doug Maclean and Jack Armstrong, was a first hand look at the battle the relocation to Hamilton has become. Stating that after Jim Balsillie’s attempts at hijacking the Nashville Predators to Hamilton, the commish indicated he sat down with the billionaire outlining what it would take to become an NHL owner.
The Toronto Rumour Mill is buzzing today with word of the Leafs and Bolts in talks for the 2nd overall pick in this years NHL Entry Draft.
Hockey Night In Canada’sÂ Elliotte Friedman broke the worst kept secret in the NHL,Â leading up to this years draft, that the Leafs wereÂ rumoured to be talking to the Tampa Bay Lightning about getting their #2 Overall pick.
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.
Less than 24 hours after the Leafs season officially ended with a win over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night, the fans and media have already turned their attention to two important dates: June 26th, the date of the NHL Entry Draft, and July 1st, when free agent frenzy takes off. Just for discussion’s sake, here are a few interesting scenarios currently being tossed various news outlets today:
So you’re Brian Burke and it’s July 1st.
Who do you go after? And what is the contract you offer?
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