Saturday, 31 December 2011

Leafs Lose Third Game In A Row And Drop Out Of Playoff Spot

Puck gets by Reimer. Leafs lose 3-2 to the Jets

The year ended on a rough note for the Leafs as they dropped their third game in a row. A rough month of December where Toronto only won four of the thirteen games they played ends with them on the outside of a playoff spot looking in... A rather familiar place for the team as well as Leafs Nation. The Washington Capital and Ottawa Senators have now jumped Toronto and the Leafs now sit tenth in the Eastern conference standings.

Not much to report on the game... Same problems as always. The Leafs inability to be able to kill off penalties led to all three goals from the Jets. Two of the three goals came on the powerplay and the other was just a few seconds after one of the Leafs penalties had finished. They weren't given much help as the referees made a few questionable calls against the Leafs, including a really late call that was made solely based on the reaction of Winnipeg fans.

Tyler Bozak missed the game and is expected to miss at least seven days. He fell hard into the boards during practice and was placed on the IR. Matthew Lombardi was then activated off the IR and returned to the line-up for the Leafs. Lombardi played on the third line with Nazem Kadri and Clarke MacArthur while Tim Connolly moved up to the first line with Kessel and Lupul.

Friday, 30 December 2011

Why Good Teams Never Trade High Picks - Comparison With The Leafs

Brian Burke at the 2011 NHL Entry draft

There's been a lot of trade rumours swirling around throughout the month of December. People are calling for the Leafs to trade more draft picks and good prospects for a high value player. There are some things that need to be considered before the Leafs go and trade away their future... I decided to do some research about trading draft picks. I picked six teams to research, the last five teams to win the Stanley Cup (Boston, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Anaheim) and I also added the Washington Capitals. I decided to look up each of these teams and see what they did with their first round draft picks since the draft prior to the NHL lockout season of 2004-2005...

2004 - Alex Ovechkin, Jeff Shultz, Mike Green
2005 - Sasha Pokulok, Joe Finley
2006 - Nicklas Backstrom, Semyon Varlamov
2007 - Kyle Alzner
2008 - Anton Gustafsson, John Carlson
2009 - Marcus Johansson
2010 - Evgeny Kuznetsov
2011 - None - Traded first round (26th overall) to Chicago for Troy Brouwer

2004 - Ladislav Smid
2005 - Bobby Ryan
2006 - Mark Mitera
2007 - Logan MacMillan
2008 - Jake Gardiner
2009 - Peter Hollan, Kyle Palmieri
2010 - Cam Fowler, Emerson Etem
2011 - Rickard Rakell

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Leafs Out-Battled By Carolina... And The Powerplay Was Awful

Leafs out-battled by Canes for the majority of sixty minutes

The Leafs were off to a slow start once again and Brandon Sutter scored early in the first for Carolina. The Leafs would struggle to manage any offense, Carolina was the better team after 20 mins and led the game 1-0. But in the second period the Leafs came out with a lot of energy and determination. They took the game to Carolina for most of the period and Nazem Kadri, who was the best Leaf on the ice, scored to tie the game. James Reimer was strong throughout the first fourty minutes of the game, he was seeing the puck very well and his rebound control was near perfect.

In the third period Grabovski carried the puck up the middle and gave a saucer pass to Boyce who was going hard to the net. Boyce shot it off the pad of Cam Ward and the rebound came right to Kulemin who buried it and gave the Leafs their first lead of the game. A few minutes later after one of many unsuccessful powerplay attempts, Kessel threw a wrist shot at Cam Ward that Joffrey Lupul tipped just enough to give the Leafs a 3-1 lead. The Leafs couldn't hold the lead though... Just a few minutes later Keith Aulie pinched to try to hold the offensive blueline and Dion Phaneuf didn't back him up enough. Eric Staal would take the puck on a breakaway and score on Reimer through the five-hole. A few minutes after that the Leafs were hemmed in their own zone for a long shift and the puck found its way behind Reimer... All of the sudden a 3-1 Leafs lead halfway through the third turned into a 3-3 game and the Hurricanes had all the momentum.

With just over six minutes left in the third period both Clarke MacArthur and Nazem Kadri were stripped of the puck on partial breakaways... Carolina was taking the game to the Leafs until they took a two many men penalty with just three minutes left in the third period. The leafs didn't score and to make matters worse, just as the powerplay ended Carolina came roaring into the Toronto zone on a 3-on-1 rush... James Reimer would make a huge save to keep the game tied.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Eric Staal and the Maple Leafs - Wishful Thinking

What was the first thing that came into your head when you heard the Eric Staal trade rumours possibly pointing to the Maple Leafs? ... I laughed a little... The Leafs are a team that's right up against the salary cap... So, no big deal, just trade some players to save some cap space right? Well, the problem is that the only players that would save space via trade have contracts that no other team in their right mind would be willing to pick up. It's a miracle the Leafs managed to get rid of players like Jason Blake and Vesa Toskala. I'm nearly certain that when Brian Burke traded Beauchemin to Anaheim for Lupul and Gardiner he must've said "Please, for the love of God help me, I helped you guys win the cup a few years ago remember" over and over until the Ducks organization was overcome with pity and accepted the trade.


Matthew Lombardi - 3.5 mil / season - has two years remaining (this year plus one more year)
Tim Connolly - 4.75 mil / season - also has two years remaining
Mike Komisarek - 4.5 mil / season - has three years remaining (Just an awful signing all around)

Tim Connolly may be manageable as he has shown that he can still be a very useful player in many situations (Powerplay, Penalty Kill) but at almost 5 million dollars for the season I find it hard to see too many teams that would be willing to take a stab at him.

Matthew Lombardi is still injured but last I heard (which was a few weeks ago) he was expected to be returning in the next few games. Lombardi is a good player that the Leafs may be able to trade, but his track-record is riddled with injuries. If you're a team making a playoff run and you want to add to your team at the trade deadline why would you go after a player who is constantly getting injured?

Mike Komisarek will not be traded. There is no way that any General Manager in the NHL would take this awful contract off Brian Burke's hands. Face it were stuck with him for the next few years... At least he was playing somewhat better before he got injured this season.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Leafs Lose in Florida - Where To Point The Finger?

The Florida Panthers score three goals on eight shots on James
Reimer and the Toronto Maple Leafs en-route to a 5-3 win
The Toronto Maple Leafs went into Florida looking to capitalize on a struggling Panthers team but were unable to do so. The Panthers scored early in the first as the Maple Leafs first line was on for nearly two minutes and were too tired to get the puck out of the zone. Grabovski would tie the game but the Panthers would soon after score three goals in the second period. One of which was on a 5-on-3 powerplay as the Leafs took a bad too many men penalty to put them down two players. The Leafs would press throughout the game cutting into the lead but eventually losing the game 5-3.

James Reimer looked slightly out of sorts today as he let in three goals on eight shots. Two of the goals were ones that he needs to save for the Leafs to be successful in their quest for the playoffs. Jonas Gustavson would come into the game in the second period and play considerably well, but he needed to be perfect for the Leafs to get any points in the game. The Monster made 16 saves on 18 shots, both goals against him were also suspect, however he did make some key saves.

Toronto pressed hard as the game continued but couldn't seem to catch a break as Jose Theodore robbed Matt Frattin with the knob of his goal stick, and the Leafs hit a pair of goal posts in the third period. Grabovski would pick up two goals for the Leafs, Dion Phaneuf scored the other.

Monday, 26 December 2011

NEW VIDEO! How Ron Wilson Really Got His Contract Extension

It`s Christmas time and all little Ronnie wanted for Christmas was a contract renewal. He thought he`d been good all year but Santa came and said all wasn`t so. He never taught the Maple Leafs how to kill a penalty. Year after year the Leafs would suck at the PK. Santa told little Ronnie that he wouldn't give him a contract extension for Christmas because he didn't earn it. So little Ronnie took matters into his own hands...

The scenerios depicted in this video may also be the same reason Philippe Dupuis is still on the Maple Leafs let alone in the NHL, but I do not have any proof of that...

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Ron Wilson Receives Contract Extension

The Toronto Maple Leafs won their last two games heading into the NHL's Christmas break this weekend slotting them sixth in the Eastern conference. Regardless of whether you like job Ron Wilson has done coaching the team or you fall into the "Fire Wilson" camp, the results speak for themselves. Those results are mainly that the Leafs are in a playoff spot at the moment, something they have struggled to achieve over the last few years.

Over the weekend Ron Wilson hinted that he would like a contract extension for Christmas. Then this morning he mention via twitter that he in actual fact did receive the contract extension he was looking for. TSN's James Duthie would confirm this a few hours later. So, I for one am going to congratulate Mr. Wilson.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Leafs Win Second Straight Heading Into The Break

MacArthur scores on Nabokov early in the first period
The Toronto Maple Leafs pick up points 39 and 40 on the season as they score early and often to edge the New York Islanders. Under two minutes into the game Clarke MacArthur scored for the Leafs as he took a pass from Connolly and put the puck past Nabokov. A few minutes later Nazem Kadri scored his second in as many nights on the powerplay and later in the first period Carl Gunnarsson made it 3-0 for the Leafs.

As the game pressed on, the Leafs seemed content with their lead and slowed down considerably. The Islanders would score at the end of the first and then early in the second period to make it a one goal game, but Tyler Bozak would set up Joey Crabb for a short-handed marker to regain the two goal lead for the Leafs. The Leafs would hang on to the lead and win the game by a score of 5-3.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Team Win - Maple Leafs Hold Off The Sabres

Nazem Kadri scores the third goal for the Maple Leafs with a shot from the slot that beat Miller over the glove in the third period. The Leafs would then buckle down to convert that lead into a win, something they've struggled to do in the month of December.

The first half of the game was riddled with questionable penalty after questionable penalty on both teams (what else is new in the world of the NHL). Things settled down during the second half of the second period which saw the Leafs score two quick goals to put them ahead of the Sabres 2-1 going into the third period. The Sabres tied it up early in the third before Kadri notched the game winner.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Leafs Injury Update - Leafs call up Kadri and Boyce

The news broke this morning that Nazem Kadri practiced with the Maple Leafs before it became official that he was called up from the Marlies. This coming shortly after the Leafs called up centre Darryl Boyce earlier this week.

Boyce, who has 10 points in 22 games for the Marlies this season, is a hard working bottom 6 player who is sure to bring some energy onto the bench each and every game. Boyce is likely slotted to take most of Philippe Dupuis' minutes after Dupuis went down with an upper body injury in the game on Monday. This means penalty kill time and 4th line minutes to spark some energy for Darryl Boyce.

Nazem Kadri, who has 22 points in 22 games for the Marlies, is likely to be placed on the Leafs third line with Tim Connolly and Clarke MacArthur with the absense of Armstrong, who is out with a concussion. The drawback on Kadri has always been his size, and although not much has changed in that department since his last time in a Maple Leafs uniform, this is a good time to re-evaluate what Kadri brings to the table. This is also a great opportunity for Nazem Kadri to prove to the Leafs organization that he belongs in the NHL. Expect Kadri to get some time on powerplay time. It's hard to imagine him taking a spot from the first unit but I can see him filling a roll on the second unit. 


Monday, 19 December 2011

Eagle Eyes - Blown Call By The Linesman and The Leafs Lose Again But Manage A Point

The Maple Leafs played a decent game, struggling at some points but really controlling the play as the game progressed and as coach Ron Wilson rekindled his lines after trying to change it up for the first two periods.
Tonights game story was the goaltending. James Reimer played spectacular tonight, making key saves all throughout the game. In total he made 40 saves on 42 shots. Jonathan Quick also had a very strong game at the other end of the rink which would keep the game tied 2-2 and rolling into the shootout.

But the real turning point of the game was during a Kings PP in the second period. Drew Doughty settles a saucer pass at the blue line but the puck comes out of the zone. The linesman emphatically calls Drew Doughty onside when he clearly wasn't. There was nobody in front of the linesman for him to miss the call, just him and a clear view of the puck and he botched the call. Drew Doughty who seemingly knew that the puck came out of the zone, gathers his composure to make a pass down low and in a blink the Kings scored their second game of the night. The Leafs would rattle back in the third looking for the equalizer. Matt Frattin would be the recipient of a nice passing play and would tap in the tying goal. The game would go into a shootout.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Defensive Mistakes And Coaching Errors - The Leafs Lose Again

The Leafs played last night against Buffalo and lost. Knowing they need a big performance today against the Vancouver Canucks the Maple Leafs came out flat. Ultimately losing the game 5-3.

The Canucks scored early on yet another ridiculous defensive error, as the puck found it's was to Chris Higgins alone in front who put the put past Jonas Gustavson. Gustavson would then recover making several key saves in his performance but as per usual still let in 5 goals. It's hard to put the blame on Gustavson though... None of the goals that he let in were really his fault. It all comes back to horrible mistakes from the defensive zone coverage, usually from the defensemen themselves.

David Steckel didn't play tonight, so rather than calling up another forward from the friendly neighbourhood Marlies, coach Ron Wilson elected to play 7 defensemen and 11 forwards, inserting Keith Aulie into the line-up. This was a major miscalculation on his part. The Leafs just played in Buffalo last night so you know they're going to be a little tired, and yet you dress one less forward. To make matters worse, somehow Philippe Dupuis remained in the starting roster. He played an astonishing 4 minutes and 37 seconds tonight, once again contributing absolutely nothing to the team. So the Leafs basically played with 3 lines against the Canucks, who are one of the best teams in the league.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Leafs Lose in Buffalo

The Leafs penalty kill is absolutely awful. It also lost them the game tonight. There would be a simple solution to this. STOP TAKING BAD PENALTIES!

The Leafs were in control of the game. It was a good back and forth game where the Leafs scored first until the penalties started. The worst being Philippe Dupuis taking a careless high sticking penalty to put the Leafs down 5 on 3 and Dion Phaneuf's boarding 5 min major + game misconduct penalty. Needless to say Buffalo scored 3 times on the PP. The Leafs took four minor penalties and one major penalty the Sabres only took two minor penalties. Granted as usual, the refs could have called some on the Sabres, including a cross-check to the back of Phil Kessel which led to a breakaway for Vanek to score what would be the game winning goal.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

The Man Too Tall For Hockey - The Hal Gill Story

Exclusive look at Hal Gill's hockey career. The 6'7" tall defenseman has had a solid career in the NHL but after winning the Stanley Cup in Pittsburgh many wondered if his career would be over... Here's a close up look at Mr. Gill's interesting career.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Tuesday Night Hero - Tim Connolly

Tim Connolly was the hero in last nights game as the Leafs played the Hurricane. He scored the first goal of the hockey game in the third period by redirecting a shot from MacArthur past Cam Ward and then scored the overtime goal for the big two points and another stick in the W column. John-Michael Liles also had a strong two-way game for the Maple Leafs as he blocked 3 shots, including a play when he skated the full length of the ice to break up an odd man rush that looked promising for the Hurricanes.

Monday, 12 December 2011

TUTORIAL - 15 Ways To Become An Elite Hockey Player

Are you a young hockey player on the cusp of greatness? Are you looking for a few extra tips to put you over the bubble and help you become an elite hockey player?

Well, you're in luck. We have comprised a list of 15 methods that have been put through a gruelling series of tests. All of these methods passed with well above satisfactory results.

  1. Save energy by not skating the puck up the ice when Vesa Toskala is the opposing goaltender. Try shooting the puck from your own zone instead.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Kaberle Traded Again - Brian Burke Is a Genius

Brian Burke has managed to swindle teams out of quality players for quite a while now. Here's a look back a just a few of my favourite moments of Burke's tenure as Leafs GM.

Jan 31, 2010
Toronto Maple Leafs trade:
Matt Stajan
Jamal Mayers
Ian White
Niklas Hagman

to Calgary Flames for:
Dion Phaneuf
Keith Aulie
Fredrik Sjostrum

SINCE THE TRADE: Matt Stajan is the only player who remains on the team, making over $3 million on the cap and finds himself in and out of the line-up as a healthy scratch. Jamal Mayers currently plays for the Blackhawks. Ian White is now on Detroit and Niklas Hagman was claimed by Anaheim off re-entry waivers.

Feb 9, 2011
Toronto Maple Leafs trade:
Francois Beauchemin

to Anaheim Ducks for:
Joffrey Lupul
Jake Gardiner

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Hockey Or Soccer - Its Getting Tough To Tell

Over the first couple of months this season it seems that diving is getting worse and worse in the NHL. As soon as a player feels a stick through their equipment, especially anywhere near the ankles, they take a swim. It's starting to make hockey look like a joke... It's starting to make hockey look like soccer...

To make matters slightly worse, there have been no stand alone diving penalties this year. If a referee deemed that a player dove, they also called the opposing player for a penalty (trip, hook etc.). This tells players that theres no reason NOT to dive. The worst case scenario when you dive is that you both get a penalty so you don't hurt your team's chances at winning at all. The best case scenario is that you draw the opposing penalty without being called for diving.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Leafs Looking To End Playoff Drought

It was a different feeling this year when I bought my copy of NHL 12 for xbox and booted up the General Manager mode. I actually started to play a game instead of jumping to the trade menu for an hour or two.

The Leafs have quite a bit of organizational depth, so much so that it's kept our highest draft pick in a decade playing for the Marlies. That being said Nazim Kadri's stock has dropped behind the likes of Matt Frattin and Joe Colborne but when looking at the team you cant help but be optimistic. After flat-lining through the first period in last nights game against New Jersey they team crawled back to get the game into overtime before ultimately losing the game.