Tonight at 7:00, the Toronto Maple Leafs will visit the Florida Panthers in a battle against former Maple Leaf, Bryan McCabe, and his Panthers. Also, Brian Burke addressed the media regarding his outlook towards the remainder of the season, as well as what has been highly regarded as a “double deadline” year with the Olympic break and the trade deadline.
Brian Burke kicked off his brief discussion with the media regarding the team’s position heading down the stretch with the exact statement everyone expects Burke to make.
“If I could make a trade today that would propel us into the playoffs, I’m going to make it. I know with each loss it seems more remote, but that’s still our goal.”
Brian Burke feels that there truly is a double deadline this season, and that many teams will be wanting to make trades prior to the Olympic break in order to have those players with the club immediately following the world event. Many GMs believe that certain players will elevate their game coming out of the Olympics, and that is a type of leadership many franchises are currently craving.
“You’ll see activity before the Olympics, and then the normal frantic activity for the 3 days after the Olympics.”
Burke acknowledged many of the rumors that are circulating around his team, but adds that the process behind every trade is much more in depth than first thought.
“The trade is one phone call, but the work that’s put into it usually takes weeks or months. After this meeting, I think we’re ready to go.”
It seems Burke does have a few trades in mind, currently. He also added that many teams make the most mistakes in their careers at the trade deadline because they feel they are missing that one final piece to win the Stanley Cup; however, Burke said he advises every GM to put themselves in the position to make those mistakes because the Stanley Cup is all that matters when it is all said and done.
“If you think you’re close and you’re missing one piece, you go get it, because you don’t know when you’re going to be back in the dance.”
While it does not appear the Leafs are anywhere close to their playoff march, tonight still plays a significant factor on the season, as does every other game. This is the third of four meetings between the Leafs and Panthers this season, and Toronto has so far taken the W in each affair.
The Panthers have struggled as of late, but Tomas Vokoun certainly has not. He has let in 2 goals or elss in 8 of his last 10 starts, but the Panthers have been unable to score goals recently. Tonight is also the final game for Toronto’s 5 game road swing. In that time, they have a record of 1-2-1. Florida is 1-1-1 in their last 3 games despite scoring just 2 goals in that span.
Phil Kessel has 1 goal and 7 assists in a 7 game point streak. Matt Stajan has 4 goals and 5 assists in his last 10 games. Alexei Ponikarovsky has 3 goals and 1 assist in his last 3 games, while Niklas Hagman seems to be back to his usual self with 2 goals and 2 assists in his last 3 appearances.
Komisarek, Van Ryn and Grabovski are all on injured reserve for the Leafs, while Horton left Thursday’s game with a fractured tibia, and Nick Tarnasky, David Booth and Kenndal McArdle are all on injured reserve for the Panthers.
Jonas Gustavsson is expected to get the nod in goal tonight. Should he secure a victory, it will be his 10th of the season.
Micheal A. Aldred