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A Toronto Maple Leaf hasn’t won a major NHL award in an embarrassing amount of years. This year, however, it looks as if there could be a case made for 3 award nominations —major or otherwise, for the Leafs.
The last “major” award was Doug Gilmour winning the Selke Trophy in the 1992-1993 season, 20 years ago.
The league’s fourth ranked team, the Toronto Maple Leafs (we beat Boston in something!), host the New Jersey tonight seeking to snuff out their dwindling playoff hopes by completing the season series sweep over the Devils.
Settling for a comfortable playoff position cannot be the approach if you’re Carlyle’s Leafs. The goal has to be to try to chase down home ice advantage for round one, or at the very least to finish strong headed into the playoffs. There is a definite advantage for teams who are playing at a playoff level with playoff intensity already by the time game 1 of the Quarterfinals rolls around. Winning games like this one against desperate teams will help keep the Leafs confident and battle ready for the big dance.
SCOTT LEVY / GETTY IMAGES
Against the Rangers, the Leafs went 24:33 without a shot. Considering that’s nearly half of regulation, I went back and watched the tape in order to find out what exactly was going on during this time.
3:32 was the time of the Leafs last shot before they finally shot again 24:33 later. There was a delayed penalty coming up on the play for the Rangers and the Leafs were working it around New York’s zone nicely resulting in a Kulemin slap shot from the top of the circle. The Leafs had five shots on net in the first 3:32 of the second and scored on one of them. Those were the only shots they would get all period.
Toronto Maple Leafs forwards Alexander Mogilny, left, and Gary Roberts stand dejected at the bench after their Game 6 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in their Eastern Conference semifinal in 2004, the last year the Leafs made the playoffs. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)
In case you missed it, here’s mORRganRielly‘s excellent Game in 22.
What a heart-breaker that was.
Post game Stats: Kessel now has his 14th of the season and with a hot streak incoming, should be able to hit 30 goals with 8 games left on the schedule. The Leafs’ penalty kill continues its excellence with a man down as they killed off three of the Rangers’ 20th ranked power-plays. And what a game it was after a first period that put my ADHD afflicted dog to sleep.
The Leafs are all but set to make the playoffs for the first time in nine years, yet there is an inordinate amount of vitriol being directed at Toronto’s head coach Randy Carlyle, for some reason.
Considering pretty well everyone predicted the Leafs not to make the playoffs, it’s pretty funny to see the coach leading a surprising playoff appearance – and a team that’s currently fifth in the East and 7th in the League – get chastised
Toronto Maple Leafs last 10: 6-1-3, New York Rangers last 10: 5-3-2
As the season winds down, The Maple Leafs find themselves in a position to either pull clear of the teams beneath them, or stumble and fall back into the clutches of 8th/9th place.
Photo Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-US PRESSWIRE
With just ten games left on the schedule for the Leafs this season, here are ten thoughts I’ve been considering heading into those final games.
The Leafs are back at it after a welcomed four day lull in the schedule. The deadline hurdle has been cleared for the players, with no significant additions or subtractions to the roster. The group that got the Leafs into this position is going to have a chance to finish what they started by clinching the Leafs’ first playoff berth in eight years. It’s tough to imagine James Reimer is viewing this as a vote of confidence, though, after his GM publicly admitted that Miikka Kiprusoff was of much interest to the team and that the two sides discussed the possibility of an extension.
Trade Deadline 2013 is in the books. The Kiprusoff scare is over. Leafs are still 5th in the East.
“Sometimes the best moves are the ones you don’t make.”-Anthony Petrielli -(@APetrielli)
For those of you who missed it and were doing something productive, yesterday’s experience reminded me of a famous quote once uttered by an esteemed San Diegan news anchor. In what started off as an eerily quiet and inauspicious morning, things quickly turned into a maelstrom towards the end of the deadline at 3pm. I usually go solo on this piece but given the magnitude of the Trade Deadline, I opted to enlist the help of some of MLHS’ great writers for thoughts on what transpired yesterday. We’ve got you covered.
In their only move today, the Leafs have acquired the 6’5, 235-pound Ryan O’Byrne, a big right hander for the back end who used to play alongside John-Michael Liles in Colorado. A depth add here, with a 4th round pick headed the other way to the Avalanche.
The first to break the Jarome Iginla to Boston trade, Aaron Ward is now reporting the Leafs have been given permission by Calgary to talk to Miikka Kiprusoff’s representatives about changing his stance on not reporting to a new team in order to come to Toronto.
After what feels like an eternity of Roberto Luongo being linked to the Leafs, it’s almost strange to hear a different goalies name linked to Toronto via trade.
But here we are, as Miikka Kiprusoff is now being connected perilously close to the Leafs.
After looking at potential trade targets in last week’s preamble, it only makes sense to look at the Leafs potential trading chips for the deadline that’s two days away.
Around the trade deadline, eyes always gravitate towards pending UFAs and the Leafs currently have five. It’s safe to say UFA to be – Colton Orr, Mike Kostka and Ryan Hamilton – aren’t going to bring Toronto anything via trade so we can cut them off the list of names to discuss. The other two UFAs to be are Tyler Bozak and Clarke MacArthur.
Following up on Nazem Kadri’s 3rd star honours last week, Joffrey Lupul is your NHL 1st star for the week of March 25-31 after four games consisting of 5 goals, 4 assists, 9 points, and 3 game-winning goals (consecutively vs. Florida, Carolina and Ottawa). In his career as a Leaf, Lupul now has 99 points in 103 games.
On top of his natural offensive abilities, Joffrey Lupul is benefitting from a rest advantage having missed such a big cluster of games in a compact schedule. Joe Corvo certainly didn’t expect the late-game speed drive out of Lupul in an end-to-end rush to win the game against Carolina. Lupul is visibly “fresher” out there over 60 minutes. To his credit, his conditioning was described as excellent coming out of the lockout and he appeared to be able to take the time while sidelined with the injury – he was able to skate, just couldn’t shoot – to touch up his edge work with Barb Underhill. It’s tough to say which is the bigger factor here, but he’s getting around the rink better than ever, is engaged physically and he’s looked supremely confident coming off a disheartening injury layoff.
Without Lupul jumping back into the lineup and hitting the ground running, you could make an argument the Leafs would be in notably worse shape than their current 20-12-4. They beat Boston 3-2 without him, but remember, he entered the lineup at a time when the Leafs had lost four straight, a few in pretty ugly fashion. They were in horrible shape against the Jets in his comeback game and he played a big role in the team grabbing the loser point. Excluding the two games he was suspended for, the Leafs have gone 4-0-1 in his appearances since, and he’s scored in all and had multi-point games in all but one (“just” the one goal in the 3-2 shootout loss in Boston).
I’m not in the dressing room, but he seems to have taken on a leadership role among the forward group. That was probably the case last season, but he seems to be relishing the opportunity in front of him to help lead this team to somewhere it hasn’t gone as an organization in far too many years (when they get there, Lupul’s 39 games of experience will be the most the team has in any one player). It was also interesting to hear Lupul speak about the fans “finally coming to life now that the team has given them reason to believe. The tone in which he said it sounded to me like he had taken note of an at-times lacking atmosphere in the ACC while stuck in the press box. A few gestures toward the fans following his goals, in an effort to liven up the crowd, has confirmed my suspicion. He’s got a leader’s personality and he’s taken on a ambassador-like role for the team between his Twitter presence, the frequency with which he interviews (or takes on painful acting roles), and his Lupes Troops initiative.
A lot can and will change over the next four years, but, as far as earning that new contract goes, he certainly seems up to the challenge early.
After doing a great job of gathering up points over the past couple of weeks and pushing themselves well in to the playoff picture, it wouldn’t be a big surprise to see the Leafs hold off on any trades going in to the deadline this Wednesday. But despite the amount of success the team has enjoyed this season, there are some glaring weak areas that could be addressed, and players may become available that could help Nonis bring this club to a higher level.
We’ve seen the Calgary Flames finally give in to a rebuild in the past week with the departure of Jarome Iginla, and the Buffalo Sabres have been known to be in fire sale mode for a little while now. As Wednesday approaches, other teams will have to make a decision on which direction they’re headed, and potentially start putting bodies on planes as well.
The Leafs played the Sens in the fourth of five meetings between these two teams. This Battle of Ontario offered great value as the Sens held a two point advantage in the Northeast Division and the Conference standings headed into this one. Not anymore.
Last 10: Toronto 4-2-4; Ottawa 7-1-2
The Toronto Maple Leafs are looking to earn at least a point in an eighth straight game Saturday night as they visit the Ottawa Senators, who have been on a decent run of their own.
In what is the most meaningful “Battle of Ontario” in the last few years, it’s more than just pride on the line; it’s home-ice advantage and two teams sizing each other up as potential first-round matchups. Toronto is trying on their new look as a playoff team for the first time in 8 years and Ottawa is revelling in their depth as a team that has been able to stave off huge injuries to Jason Spezza, Erik Karlsson and Chris Anderson with seemingly no drop-off in performance.
Thanks to @mORRganRielly for the following submission:
Jake Gardiner sucks.
No, just kidding. He’s pretty awesome. He is an immensely gifted, up-and-coming defenseman, but he does have a little bit of learnin’ to do. In light of his recent scratch, I wanted to take an opportunity to delve more into his role with the Leafs and the relationship of his play against the overall performance of the Leafs defense over the course of the season. To that end, I will be looking strictly at even-strength play rather than specialized roles like the power-play or the penalty-kill.
That. That was the win that cemented the Leafs as playoff worthy.
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