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Last season, Phil Kessel registered 14 of 24 assists in an 18-game span, with 10 more over 58 games. He battled an ugly 14-game goalless skid (14-0-3-3), three games before going down to a case of mono in January, and 11 games after his return.
In short, assists arenâ€™t his strong suit. Heâ€™s had more goals than assists in every season except his rookie season.
Well, break your selfish streak, Mr. Kessel and you’ll break your slump. One assist at a time.
With the World Junior Championship gold medal game taking centre stage tonight (7:30pm, TSN), Leafs’ fans can be forgiven for overlooking tonight’s matchup against an inconsistent Florida Panthers squad (7:00pm, Sportsnet).
Coming off a disastrous mini-road trip out West, featuring losses to the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames, the Maple Leafs will look to inject some confidence into their lineup with a victory against the visiting Panthers, who sit only 4 points ahead of the Leafs in the Eastern Conference standings.
Via Elliotte Friedman of HNIC: Mikhail Grabovski out 6 weeks with a fractured wrist. Wayne Primeau out 2-4 weeks with a knee injury.
With two regular centres now knocked out of the lineup, it might finally be time for Tyler Bozak to see extended time with the big club. Bozak has had a rough season so far in the AHL for various reasons, and boasts 18 points in 28 games for the Marlies on the year. John Mitchell has been practicing with the club and figures to back in the lineup for Tuesday’s game at home against the Panthers.
Tickets Note: Got a pair of purples to the Panthers game on Tuesday night and won’t be able to attend. Looking to move them at cost, so drop me an email if interested.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are in a rebuild, or a re-tool, whichever you prefer. Â In any event, a process such as this requires a team to have a plentiful prospect pipe, ripe with blue chippers are all positions. Â The Leafs certainly may not be plentiful when it comes to blue chip prospects, but they do have a few who are developing quite nicely.
And you just never know when and where a potential blue chipper may come from.
If drafting has taught us anything, it’s shown to be far from an exact science. Â Can’t miss prospects turn out to be busts occasionally, and sometimes late round picks have proven to be key components for a team, just ask, among others, Tomas Kaberle, Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, and Viktor Stalberg.
Okay, while he may not garner enough adulation to be put in a group with some of the NHL’s top stars, there is plenty of reason to believe he may in fact one day be worthy of the mention.
- The Toronto Marlies took a thrilling 5-4 shootout decision against the Chicago Wolves, with each of the College Frat Pack making an impact. Tyler Bozak recorded a goal and an assist, Stalberg scored once, while Hanson chipped in an assist. Defenseman Juraj Mikus added an assist and tallied the shootout winner.
- Nazem Kadri continued his chippy play so far this season, receiving an abuse of the official misconduct in addition to a pair of assists in a 5-4 victory over his former club, the Kitchener Rangers. Elsewhere around the OHL, Jesse Blacker recorded a powerplay assist. Over in the QMJHL, Philliipe Paradis and Joel Champagne were both held off the scoresheet, while Mikhail Stefanovich managed an assist. There were rumors of a possible trade involving Stefanovich going to another junior team earlier today, but it doesn’t seem to have been the case.
- Lastly, I’ve got a pair of Greens to Saturday night’s game (tomorrow) against Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals that I’m looking to move at cost. Drop me an email if interested.
Stick Work has a stellar lineup of guests this week to give listeners variety.
Kicking off the first segment isEric Prime, who covers the Toronto Marlies for of FAN590 and Rogers Sportsnet, talks about the season thus far for the Baby Buds. Find out what he feels about young prospects, Victor Stalberg, Tyler Bozak, Jiri Tlusty and recent call up Christian Hanson. about 12 minutes long
Eloquent and ever engaging, star of print, web, television, and now podcasts, Ryan Dixon from The Hockey News talks about the Leafs and the Habs game and expands it to the season. 12 minutes length
One of the greatest fantasy hockey experts on the planet, Michael Finewax from Rotoworld lines up the Maple Leafs, in reality, and how it translates fantasy wise. 12 minutes length
Fab and I discuss our Torontosaurus Rex. Enough talk ..
Download as .mp3 file (right-click and save-as)
By Gus Katsaros
The Leafs arenâ€™t as bad as a four win first quarter. They were a playoff bubble team prior to the season, and the postseason wasnâ€™t necessarily the goal, as was becoming competitive enough to stay in the run. They arenâ€™t a bottom five NHL club, and unlikely to finish in a lottery position.
This season continues the transition like last season into shaping Toronto into a respectable organization, from management, down. That hasnâ€™t changed with the off season moves, aside from some specific performances.
‘Spirit is Everything’ is a fitting slogan .. because winning this season, means nothing.
As per Darren Dreger Twitter:
“Christian Hanson expected to be called up by Leafs.”
I think eventually all of Tyler Bozak, Victor Stalberg and Jiri Tlusty will be given more auditions this season. Maybe even finish the season with the big club.
A dreadful 3-11-5 start for the Maple Leafs has everyone asking the same two questions. What the heck happened? And what the heck is the solution?
The big club’s off until a Friday night date with the struggling Hurricanes, so let’s take this opportunity to review the progress of several Maple Leafs’ prospects across various levels and highlight upon the season’s surprises and disappointments thus far. The verdict: fairly encouraging results early on across the board.
No truer words ring out to the ears of the throng of fans and particularly management of the Leafs victory over the current GM’s former organization.
And it took Alice in Chains to create them.
Cali, you’re alright …..
Bad goaltending is now blamed on an injury. The Leafs have called up rookie James Riemer who will be sitting on the bench tonight as Joey MacDonald gets the nod. Vesa Toskala has apparently suffered an undisclosed injury after last night’s 7-2 loss (my bet is a fan clubbed him Nancy Kerrigan style) and is now out. Toronto’s top two goaltenders (arguably) are now sidelined. Gustavsson is expected to return sometime next week.
Five games in, no wins, and few positives within the play to indicate a turnaround is coming soon.
Something has to be done to shake up this roster.Â Â Some sort of move needs to be made, that much is clear.
The question is, what?
With very little good happening at the NHL level, it’s time to see how the kids are doing elsewhere. The Marlies dropped a 5-3 decision this afternoon against Rockford, falling to 2-1 on the young season. Jiri Tlusty scored a pair of goals, bringing his totals up to 3 goals and 4 points in 3 games played.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have sent forwards Jiri Tlusty, Nik Kulemin, and Tyler Bozak, as well as defender Carl Gunnarsson, to the Toronto Marlies of the AHL.
These moves leave the team with a 22-man roster, one under the season-opening limit of 23.Â Â Â That number does not include either of Phil Kessel or Mike Van Ryn, as both will start the season listed as injured non-roster players.
Just a quick update: Joey MacDonald has been placed on waivers with the intention of sending him to the Marlies, meaning that Jonas Gustavsson will in fact, be with the big club to start the season.
Also, Jiri Tlusty, Nikolai Kulemin & Tyler Bozak are not expected to play Thursday versus the Canadiens, according toÂ Ron Wilson. Still no word on who else is going to down to the minors.
The Maple Leafs continued their shaping of the NHL roster with another four cuts on Sunday. Top prospect Nazem Kadri will be going back to the OHL’s London Knights, Jonas Frogren and Christian Hanson will report to the Toronto Marlies, and Andy Rogers has been released. By my count, that leaves 30 players left (including Kessel who will be placed on the long-term injured reserve), meaning there will be another 6 cuts in the near future.
The Leafs improved their preaseason win total to six tonight at the ACC.Â These are the final chances for some of the young hopefuls, and they are not going to go away easily.Â Strong nights from Jonas Gustavsson and Viktor Stalberg were the headlines of this matchup.Â Even the defense corps has a rookieÂ strutting his stuffÂ as Ron Wilson deemed Carl Gunnarsson their “best defenseman tonight”.
Jonas Gustavsson will make his much anticipated debut for the Maple Leafs in tonight’s preseason tilt against Detroit.Â Coach Ron Wilson has indicated that he will be in there for at least the first period, but that the staff wants to break him in slowly.Â If Toronto does not get barraged in the first twenty minutes as they have in recent exhibition matches, the Monster’s tenure may stretch to a period and a half.
Ed. Note: Meet Daniel Santos, the newest member of the MLHS blogging team. Daniel serves as the Editorial Coordinator for The Score, and formerly blogged about the Maple Leafs for The Score’s “Six Pack.” Welcome, Dan.
Well, the comeback kids couldn’t do it tonight. Unlike last night against Pittsburgh, The Leafs couldn’t overcome a slow start tonight and fell 3-2 to the Buffalo Sabres.
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