Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Last night I flipped back and forth between the Leaf game, Sens-Rangers, and the World Junior game featuring Canada vs Finland.
The downside is that you never get a real feel for the flow of either game since you tend to miss chunks of each one.
Like the Sens going from a 2-1 deficit to 4-2 in the blink of an eye.
But most importantly the Leafs came away with two points to keep pace with their division rivals - although being 12 points down it will take a serious funk by the Sens for them to concede the leadership of the division and then there's Buffalo. Geez who would have predicted that team would have been so hot this year?
Not me. But I did feel that the Canadiens were overrated and they have been slowly falling to earth. The Leafs passed them last night and now sit in 6th in the conference. The lead is a measly one point but I expect the Canadiens not to make the playoffs this year so we can only hope that the lead will expand over the course of the next few months.
Atlanta has suddenly become a team to reckon with as well and they have been making some noise lately. Expect them to be knocking on the door to the 8th spot soon. Although my bet was that they don't make the playoffs this year either.
The bad news from last nights tilt is that Jason Allison will be out for some time after breaking a finger and having corrective surgery last night. Also Darcy Tucker could face suspension after a fight he had with Cam Janssen where he decided it would be prudent to beat the fellow about the head with his own helmet. Classy.
Aside from those two the Leafs also have the following on sick parade: Eric Lindros (wrist), Nik Antropov (knee), and Alex Steen (thumb).
Everyone said Lindros and Allison would be injury prone, but no one thought it would be because of wrist and hand injuries. The club has called up John Pohl from the Marlies but they will definitely be undermanned in tonights tilt against the Penguins.
In the meantime Leaf goaltending prospect Justin Pogge looked awfully good last night in a 5-1 drubbing of the Finnish team. Leaf prospect Tukka Rask on the other hand - not so good.
Although Toronto Star reporter Ken Campbell feels he was basically abandoned by his team (and manages to work in a jab at the Leafs):
Even though Rask allowed five goals on 31 shots, he received even less support than most Leaf goalies do on any given night and was under siege from the start of the game.
Well then I guess he will fit right in here, eh Ken?
BTW did anyone think that Pogge's pads looked huge? Maybe it was just the fact that they are bright blazing white and it creates an optical illusion. Hopefully there will be no measurements at inopportune times during the tournament. I am assuming that the regulations on goaltending equipment are the same as the NHL?
Thursday, December 22, 2005
The great thing about being a Leafs fan is that there is alway a juicy rumour to talk about. I mean every player in the league at one point or another has been traded for Nik Andropov or a player to be named later. Or if it is a really good player like, say... Rick Nash,
After the Leafs blow out loss to the Sens on Saturday I suggested that Belfour should be moved and also that the Leafs should go after Bertuzzi to play on the wing with Sundin:
"...two of the next three goals were clearly Belfour's fault. Time to start shopping for a goaltender - Biron is available. What will it take to get him?
.....it doesn't seem like any of the wingers that Quinn gives [Sundin] are able to score. Bertuzzi is supposedly available. JFJ should move heaven and earth to get him to play with Sundin,
Now it appears my rantings have turned into rumour:
both Toronto and Montreal may be interested in the power forward. One rumour has Belfour going to Vancouver in exchange for Bertuzzi. Bertuzzi is a UFA after this season, while Belfour has a club option for next year, which the Leafs are almost sure to decline. The salaries are similar, and Vancouver needs the goaltending help. At this point, if the Leafs can trade the veteran goalie, they should.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Tonight we found out why. Damn, this guy is deadly one-on-one. Can't believe the Sens let them back in this game, knowing there was no way he was going to be denied in the shootout.
Side note: With no Pacific TV broadcast and being stuck at work, I listened live to the Team Stream. The shootout is still exciting as hell even when you can't see what's going on.
Hey, 69 dude!!.
Well that was a great tonic to the disaster that was Saturday's game. Anyone who was fooled into thinking the Leafs are a 9th place club based on Saturday's result was dealt a dose of reality last night.
This team at this juncture is not a first place team but they aren't a last place team either. I have always maintained since the beginning of the season that the Leafs will finish anywhere from 4th to 6th and I still believe that.
Wellwood was the first star with four points. Stajan had a great game as did O'Neil but he was felled in the third period after a knee on knee collision. If it is as serious as it looks the injury bug now epidemic with this team as Lindros, Steen, Domi, Andropov, and Kronwall are all down with injuries (although I think Kronwall is rehabbing in the AHL right now).
Eddie finally notched that elusive 448 however I don't think he will look upon this as one of his better performances. He made some good saves but 6 goals is too much to give up IMHO.
Heck, even Sundin looked a lot better than he has of late.
Next up a home and home with the Boston Bruin's then the Christmas break and a chance for all you Leaf haters to watch two up and coming goalie prospects for Toronto. Justin Pogge will play for Canada's juniors while Tuukka Rask is the likely starter for the Finnish junior team. Life after Belfour won't be all that bad.
Monday, December 19, 2005
This from Ecklund:
According to a few sources this morning, Mats Sundin got very much in the face of Jeff O`Neil recently following the game on Saturday Night, calling him out for his poor defensive play as of late. "Things got really intense, really fast," according to a source close to the scene.
Someone might want to point Mats to a certain replay of a certain goal that found a certain Senator alone in front of the net while a certain Swedis Captain stood by watching...
Also there are some rumblings that the Leafs might be about to pull the trigger on a trade. Last week the name mentioned was the Bruin's Glen Murray but I don't think an inter-divisional trade is likely.
Sunday, December 18, 2005
Well the Leafs certainly showed a stellar improvement last night. Holding the Sens to a mere 8 goals and popping two by the previously impervious Hasek.
Seriously though it is hard to peg an entire season on just two games but the collective 16-2 trouncing the Leafs have received at the hands of the Sens in the past two games leaves us Leafs fans with no other choice but to demand that some changes be made in this club.
As it stands right now if the playoffs were to start today we would once again face the Sens in the first round. I wouldn't count on the result being favorable to the Buds unless there is a serious makeover.
I am not one who minds too much if a team loses. It is a long season and you aren't going to go 82-0.
However if you have been soundly beaten by an opponent I expect you to show up next time better prepared and looking for revenge. That the Leafs couldn't or wouldn't do this is shameful.
At 30+ games into the season we are faced with some problems that are more serious than first appeared.
#1 Goal: Belfour has looked awful. I know he has stolen the odd game here and there but on top echelon teams that is what a top echelon goalie is supposed to do. Looks like he is in the same boat as Yzerman and Lemieux - perhaps stayed on one year too many? After the Leafs scored to make it 4-2 2 of the next three goals were clearly Belfour's fault. Time to start shopping for a goaltender - Biron is available. What will it take to get him?
#2 Sundin. He has not looked near the type of player he can be since coming back from his eye injury. This is a more significant problem than the Belfour situation. Belfour has been known to pitch a few stinkers and then come back strong. Sundin looks like a different man altogether. And it doesn't seem like any of the wingers that Qiunn gives him are able to score. Bertuzzi is supposedly available. JFJ should move heaven and earth to get him to play with Sundin, or trade Sundin. His value is high you can get something for him. Like a goalie and a defenseman.
#3 Jeff O'Neil. What the hell has happened to this guy? He looks lost. He should be scoring buckets in this new NHL but.....
#4 Defense. It is serviceable but not good enough. Something has to be done to bring in a decent 3-4 defensman soon. Kaberle and Mccabe are starting to crack under the strain.
Ok now that I have my finger back off the panic button, can someone please explain how Hasek manages to get through games without giving up 10 goals or more? There was a point last night where he fell to his knees and ended up facing the back of the rink for what seemed like forever. I actually thought he had fallen asleep. Yet the puck didn't go in the net. That "drunken style" of netminding is just crazy.
Friday, December 16, 2005
The Toronto Maple Leafs view the 8-0 trouncing they absorbed from the Ottawa Senators 48 days ago as an anomaly.
So they have kept the videotape of the Oct. 29 massacre on the shelf and the Leafs players remind themselves that no matter how many times or how badly the Senators beat them in the regular season, their provincial rivals still have to prove they can come out winners in the National Hockey League playoffs.
In case they accidently tape it over with an episode of "Three Wishes" or something, there's a copy archived right here for easy reference.
As far as the Leaf goaltending goes, I was under the impression that Hasek was the one whose groin was on the verge of popping. Belfour hopes to "come out flying", but he better keep the ice bag handy. Something tells me Ed's going to be watching the third period of this one from the Byward Market.
[Mad propz to Office Glen's dearly departed I Hate The Leafs page for the pic]
"When Luke Wilson woke up the day after his massive Snoop Dogg bash, he woke up alongside Cuthbert. Unbeknownst to him, Cuthbert was actually a high school senior and his boss's daughter, but these details are mundane at this point and not what makes the scene memorable.
What made the scene memorable was Cuthbert's butt.
Yep, I said it. That butt is freakin' spectacular. When she lied on her stomach to reassure Wilson about what had happened the night before, I challenge any human being, sexual preference notwithstanding, to remember the dialogue during those precious few seconds. A small pair of purple underwear the only thing concealing what may go down in history as Canada's greatest export to the United States"
Her blog is here [I'm confident a reciprocal link to BoO will be up shortly]:
Altogether, my trip to Toronto was eventful, exciting and, most of all, really quick. I met some really great people while I was there, as I always do in T.O. I recommend going to THE KEG if you get a chance.
One last thing before I go, Eric Belanger's name is not burger. I was sad to see when he played in Montreal of all places that his French Canadian name was spelt wrong. Don't worry Belanger, I know your name and I noticed. Not to mention you're playing great this year. I don't know what you're doing different -- LOL -- but it seems to be working!!!
Until my next blog, so long and I'll see you at the game!
Thursday, December 15, 2005
You Hogtown, Liberal loving, sushi-eating, my team's owned by the teacher's pension funding, 1967ing, Harold Ballarding, non-Dave Keoning, couldn't even beat Carolina to get to the finaling, now have to live with the caping, $300 a seat paying punks are going to see your sorry excuse for a hockey team sent back down the 401 with their tails between their legs after a monumental ass kicking Saturday night.
You don't even know it.
Learn to love that 8 spot in the Eastern Conference - you're going to be trying to hold it for the rest of the season! Boooooo-yaaaaahhh!
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
The numbers say it all:
1999-00 2.33 0.905
2000-01 2.35 0.914
2001-02 2.48 0.903
2002-03 2.16 0.911
2003-04 2.29 0.905
2005-06 3.97 0.866
Lalime is a decent backup, and had a good couple of showings against impotent Flyer offenses, but last season's Game 7 pants-soiling exposed him irreversibly.
Lalime certain doesn't bear all the blame for my development into a jumpy, neurotic Sens fan, but he is major contributing factor to this unfortunate condition.
Nothing like the injury bug to bring the best out in the 'buds. As we have seen in many seasons since Quinn took over when a number of key Leafs go down the others step up.
So it was last night with Lindros out and Belfour pulling up lame just before the game that the Leafs rookies: Steen, Wellwood and Tellqvist helped the Leafs stop a three game slide.
Telly looked solid on all but one shot (I'm still not entirely comfortable with his style) while Wellwood had a picture perfect goal on an Anaheim giveaway right in front of their net.
And what can you say about Steen? He plays 20 minutes a night looks poised and confident each game and if it weren't for a certain pair of players in Washington and Pittsburgh he would be getting serious consideration for rookie of the year.
In other good news Tie Domi suffered a shoulder injury. Can we now pretend it is a serious injury and sit him out for a half dozen games? Just a thought.
Sunday, December 11, 2005
I think the Sens mojo is still circulating the baggage carousel at YVR. My god, what an embarrassing couple of games. Spezza easily played his worst two games of the season (Wayne G. please take note) and the Sens 1 for 16 PP was simply appalling (this is this fourth best unit in the league, right?).
Dom - you the man. So long as you keep us in games we have no business hanging around in, you can charge at Bert and the Bobbseys all you want. Chara, your hour of play in two games deserved a far better fate than a -1 pittance. That backhand you gently placed into Kippers grasp was more a reflection of your team's softness on the puck than yours, alas.
If you at the division leaders in the west, they've taken 8 of 10 games from the east so far, while the Sens now need a win against Colorado or people will really start talking. That's the other issue with this new schedule - no opportunity for a mulligan. Come out flat, and they'll have your number for another season.
Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to get back to scrubbing the bile off my jersey.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
It's definitely had the talk radio buzzing out here. This morning, I heard sound bites from the Canuck players ranging from "this is a major yard stick for us" to "hopefully we can learn something from them".
Cloutier and Havlat will still be out, while Redden may return.
Should be a solid tilt. And don't forget those Red Hot Flames on Saturday. Word is Sugar Ray Emery will get the start.
The LA Kings pulled a bit of a rope-a-dope here last night. They were out shot badly 37-23, took too many penalties and rode the performance of their goalie to a victory.
This game reminded me of one of those games that the Leafs would play against the Devils in years gone by (except with the Leafs getting more shots). The Kings hacked and slashed and hooked and held their way through the whole game proving that the "old style" of play is alive and well.
I know that I am a homer but every time I looked a Leaf standing in front of the net was falling to the ice. And I don't think it was because they all have balance problems.
Then there was the bizarre call against Allison late in the game when the Leafs had serious momentum going.
Allison is skating out of his zone slowly (well normal speed for him). He is looking towards the opposite side of the ice for a pass and an LA player skating towards him basically collides with Allison's hip and goes flying over it.
Allison gets called for tripping.
Can some one tell me what Allison is supposed to do? Jump out of the way of any opposing player? Sorry that was the worst call I have seen all season.
I am all for eliminating obstruction but Allison had no intention of holding up an LA player. He was trying to get out of his own zone.
At the very least the ref could have given a diving call just to even it up.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Just wanted to say that the Sens had 6 rookies skating last night in the 6-3 win. Call up Bochenski had an assist to go along with his hat-trick.
The Sens now head out west for a tough set of games - Calgary on Friday, Vancouver on Saturday, and Colorado on Monday. Should be a nice test for 'The Greatest Team Ever'.
Chara will be back in the lineup but I'm not sure if Redden will be returning.
So has it come to this? Tie Domi is now the leagues best "middle weight". That according to Leafs Lunch hosts Bill Watters and Jeff Marek yesterday on Talk 640.
Both hosts maintained that Domi hasn't been the same since getting clobbered by Chris McGratton some time ago and to regain his status he must deliver a smackdown on Sean Avery (the Kings uber pest tonight) at Air Canada Center.
Pardon me if I don't Tivo the event since the prospect of a formerly decent pugilist whose skills are now in decline scrapping with this decade's version of Claude Lemieux doesn't exactly interest me.
That and the fact that I don't have a Tivo.
Monday, December 05, 2005
Paul Martin said the following today:
Mr. Martin also mocked Mr. Duceppe's proposal for Quebec to have its own hockey team for international tournaments.
"Just think about it: Gilles Duceppe wants to break up Team Canada just like he wants to break up the country," he said.
"Why should we have two hockey teams competing for the bronze medal, when together we have faced the best the rest of the world has to offer, and we won the gold?"
When you look at the suggested lineups, I was thinking we'd be battling for the Gold AND the Silver.
Oh, I should add that the Leafs still don't get anyone on Team Canada.
Jerry Maguire:Uh... yeah... I...
Ray: Don't worry. I won't tell.
A Quiet Girl has a post with links (to video) detailing some of the 'behind the scenes' action that took place between Bryan Murray and a member of Kings broadcast crew.
Sunday, December 04, 2005
There's an old saw in hockey parlance that says you can't expect to win games unless you play the full 60 minutes (or something like that).
So it was last night that the Leafs played well in the first and third period but somehow forgot to show up for the second allowing the sharks to score 4 unanswered goals, erase a 3-1 deficit and skate out of Toronto with two points.
Of course the Sharks play disproves the old saw since they only showed up for the second period and still managed to win.
Chad Kilger had a horrible game and was directly responsible for two Sharks goals. The Leafs also looked sloppy when they gave up a shorthanded breakaway to allow another Sharks tally.
Allison, Steen, Sundin, Stajan and Tucker all had good games. Lindros finally scored a goal but was -2 for the night, as were his linemates Kilger and Domi.
Did Jeff O'Neil play last night? According to the reports he did but he never even registered a shot on goal and played a grand total of 9:33 of which 3:55 was on the power play. So he had just over 5 minutes of ice time at even strength. Is there something going on that we don't know about? O'Neil was supposed to be a scoring threat for this team and early on certainly showed it. But he has tailed off considerably and is now no more of a threat than the Polish Prince of Darkness.
Don't tell me that we are now going to be shopping for a scoring winger. I think we need a top four defenseman more than that.
Only 4 games on the sched in the next two weeks which is almost paltry considering they have played 8 games in the past 14 days.
Hopefully the reduced schedule will allow for some bumps and bruises to heal cause in 14 days the Sens are on tap.
Friday, December 02, 2005
Terry Sawchuk is spinning in his grave. Not only has a man with one foot in his own grave (at least if you believe local media) about to pass him on the all time wins list but a second Leaf goalie is now challenging his venerable shutout record.
That's right as of last night Mikael Tellqvist needs 102 more shutouts to pass Mr. Sawchuk on the all time shut out list. TSN analyst Glen Healey says it is now time to consider Tellqvist as a legitimate starter in the NHL and I have plenty of crow and hats to eat.
Well, I will wait till at least the end of the season before embarking on an all corvid and tilley diet. However I and many other members of Leaf Nation were heartened by Telly's goose last night if only because it gives us some hope that a game without Belfour (who has himself been haunted by ghosts this year) is an automatic loss. One can only make a Christmas wish that this trend will continue.
This is a crazy world we live in where up and down are transmogrified and where Nik Antropov and Alexei Ponikarovsky have been the best forwards on the ice for the past two games. What's next politicians who couldn't even win their own seat giving Steven Harper election advice?
Or the Ottawa Senators getting beaten by a team that just traded away its captain and franchise player? Who knew that Havlat not Hasek was the real cornerstone of the Sens cup aspirations?
Truly the end times must be near.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
A day after shipping out their star, the last-place Bruins beat first-place Ottawa 3-0 on Thursday night, as the Senators were shut out for the first time this season and had a six-game win streak halted.
OK, no big deal, I honestly think we can hold off on the panic button for now - the 'Ruins were all wound up after ditching Big Joe and took it out on a Redden and Havlat-less Sens squad.
Like I said, we're bored. Bring on the west already - Kings, Canucks, Flames, Avalanche and Stars are coming up next.
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
A victory tonight will move the Leafs ahead of the Canadiens who have only won 3 of their last 10 as compared to the Leafs who have won 7 (although you wouldn't know it if you read this article.) How much better are the Leafs playing? Well Damian Cox hasn't written about them in his past 9 columns. Cox has a simple philosophy about the Leafs: if you can't bring yourself to write something good about them, don't write at all.
Tampa is not an easy opponent despite the result the last time and Vinnie Lecavalier has said that he carries some extra motivation into this game as Pat Quinn is the Olympic coach.
Well, maybe this will make him less of team player?
I missed the Florida game because I was Christmas shopping but it sounds like it was pretty boring.
Will try to have a post game synopsis up tomorrow.
P.S. Check out this from Al Strachan:
Even though the Maple Leafs fans and media -- not that there is much of a distinction in many cases -- want to see McCabe playing in Turin next February, the selectors want a gold medal, not a PR coup. As a result, McCabe isn't likely to make it. (emphasis mine)
Who the hell is he talking about? Other than Stormin Norman Rumack ( a late night host on the Fan 590) the media in this town is almost universally hostile to the Leafs. Heck the most gentle towards the team are the hosts of Leafs Lunch and this was the show that Tie Domi stormed out of in mid-interview.
Hey Al you work for the Toronto Sun next time you're there introduce your self to Steve Simmons.
Monday, November 28, 2005
This year the Northeast (featuring half the Canadian teams and half the Original Six) will visit the Northwest while the Pacific division will visit the Northeast. The three year cycle will see each division visit an opposing conference division once and host them once.
I earlier predicted that the new schedule would grow tiresome. I mean, if the Canucks can't even get up for the Avalanche, then it appears the intent of manufacturing rivalries and cranking up regular season intensity has created the exact opposite effect. Letter writers to the Province over the weekend were less than enthusiastic about this season's program (you mean we're getting the Wild again? hooray!). While season ticket holders tend to be perennial cranks (the music is too loud, the hotdogs are too expensive, etc.), I'd agree with them here in that the only time you need to see the same team more than once a month is during the playoffs.
Don't get me wrong: repeatedly bloodying the noses of division rivals can be satisfying and a few more rounds with the Flyers, Canes and Rangers are in order before getting too cocky over here, but don't you find even the Leafs-Sens / Leafs-Habs battles lose just a little bit of their premium when overdone?
The Leafs managed to pull three points out of the back to back games this weekend although it technically should have been four.
The overtime goal that was called back in Carolina was not a goal - the puck had crossed the line just as the whistle went. However on the very same play the puck and the Carolina goalie's pad had indeed crossed the line. This one was missed by the officials and the Leafs went on to lose in a shootout.
The entire game was marred by poor officiating. Look, I love the new rules and if a Leaf puts a stick on a guy and gets called I am all for it. But if on the very next play a Leaf is tackled I expect that call to be made also. I am thinking of starting a running count of the number of penalties committed against the Leafs that aren't called.
There was some karmic retribution of a sort the next night when the refs correctly called a penalty late in the third period that carried over into the overtime allowing Sundin to score a record setting overtime goal.
The Canadiens were livid that a penalty should be called so late in the game but I for one have never subscribed to the "put the whistle away" theory.
So we move on to swampy Florida for a series of games against the Panthers and Lightning this week as well as one against Atlanta.
This should be a winnable road trip and anything less than four points would be a disappointment.
Following that we have a series of games against Western teams as San Jose, Dallas, Los Angeles and Anaheim show up at the hangar next week. Of those teams the Kings are the hottest but I am not surprised about that since their AHL team was very strong last year.
And then looming on the horizon. You know who....
Friday, November 25, 2005
Darcy Tucker has not made the trip due to the fact that is wife is about to pop out a mini-Tucker and if the Doctor slaps it too hard Darcy wants to make sure he is there to take care of things.
In his place the Polish Prince of Darkness Mariusz Czerkawski emerge from his crypt (the press box) to fill in on - the first line?
At least that's where he was playing yesterday at practice.
Pat Quinn is not taking any chances in goal tonight in the arena where Arturs Irbe played and is starting Mikael Tellqvist instead of Belfour who has been smitten with Irbe syndrome as of late. That is to say everytime he leaves the net it is an adventure.
Carolina will have Brin d'Amour and Wesley back tonight as they try to snap a three game losing skid.
The game will be broadcast on TSN and Talk 640
Q: How do you find Calgary?
A: Walk south until you smell it and then west until you step in it.
Q: What do the Flames and the Titanic have in common?
A: They both look terrific until they hit the ice.
Q: What do the Calgary Stampeders and the Calgary Flames have in common?
A: Neither team can play hockey . . . or football.
Q: Why can't Pamela Anderson support the Flames?
A: The Flames' one cup can't support her.
and in the comments:
Q: How many Torontonians does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: 4,500,000 -- 1 to actually change it and the other 4,499,999 to talk about what a world class event it was...
wrong joke! its how many Flames fans does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: 100, 1 to change the lightbulb, and 99 to talk about how the Flames made it to game 7 of the stanley cup finals.
Thursday, November 24, 2005
The only positive thing you can take out of this one is that the Leafs were universally bad. This gives Pat Quinn plenty of reason to take them to the woodshed.
Although I don't know why he would want to show them a small building filled with wood. If fact what do woodshed's have to do with hockey anyway?
Perhaps since so many of the players are from rural Canada he could say "look at this woodshed - if you weren't a reasonably talented hockey player you would probably be working here. Or if not here in some sort of resource based field like logging or mining or perhaps a guide for American fisherman and hunters" is that what you want? Because you will be doing it soon if you don't play better. "
Of course this message would probably be lost on the European players. For them he could say "how would you like to be back in Europe where your taxes would make Canada look like an Ayn Rand paradise and where you would live in one of those apartment buildings with a shared shower down in the basement and you have to go light that stupid little propane heater a half hour before just to heat up some water and then someone jumps in 5 minutes before you do? And the toilets are weird and have that stupid shelf on them so your poop is way too close to you and you freak out every time you turn around to flush it?"
At least that's what I would say. Because I am the Meatriarchy and I know how to motivate.
BTW: can we get a friggin' exorcist in to rid Belfour of Arturs Irbe's ghost? It is getting really tiresome.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
The Sens have back to back games - visiting the Islanders on Friday and back home to play Boston on the Saturday night game.
UPDATE: Looks like both Redden and Havlat will be out for these games. Smolinski is expected to be back in the lineup.
If you didn't hear it elsewhere, Chris Neil missed yesterday's game after his mother was killed in a tragic car accident yesterday.
A wife and mother of four sons, Neil was active in the lives of her family and in the community. She was instrumental in the establishment of a festival in her son Chris’ name that raised money for the Markdale hospital fund and for the reconstruction of the Flesherton arena after it was seriously damaged in a fire.
Chris Neil, in a 2004 interview, credited his mother with pushing him toward his goal of playing in the National Hockey League. He said she used to follow him in the family car while he ran to get in the best possible shape.
"She’s a big part of the reason why I’m in the NHL today," he said. "She drove me everywhere, put a lot of money towards hockey for all of her boys. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for my family."
Neil’s agent, Todd Reynolds, said Neil kept saying he couldn’t believe it Tuesday.
"He’s devastated," Reynolds told the Ottawa Sun. "He was very close to his mother. All the family was.
"She was the glue that held them all together. She was such a strong lady. She was soft-spoken and strong-willed."
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Monday, November 21, 2005
Of course, these were the two losses to Carolina.
Tomorrow the team goes into Raleigh where the home team's performance this year seems to have boosted the attendance from 12,000 to 14,500 per game.
Also, this game will most likely see the rubber match in the McGrattan/Boulerice series. According to Hockeyfights, they've split the first two.
Sunday, November 20, 2005
I missed the entire game so I have no comment other than a four game win streak sure looks good right now.
Also seems that the Leafs have finally figured out how to play defense in the new NHL. Much less time in the penalty box and fewer goals against as well.
Anyone who has watched this team closely over the past few years has seen similar patterns. The team seams to look a little shaky in the early going and then rounds into form.
Lets hope this is happening this time.
BTW : McCabe is on pace for a 113 point season at this juncture.
Thursday, November 17, 2005
Finally a game that featured good goaltending combined with scoring from the big guys. Lindros and Sundin had goals and Allison had two assists. Incidentally did anyone notice how nervous Allison was in the post game interview? His voice was shaking and he was stammering over his words. I’ve heard rookies who sounded more poised. Maybe all the chatter lately about his going over Quinn’s head to demand more ice-time is getting to him.
But he was named first star and with good reason. Despite all the talk about his performance Allison has had 9 points in his past 9 games, remember when he was signed this summer it was thought if he could be a point a game player it would be a good signing. Well he’s held up his end of the bargain as far as I am concerned.
Welcome to the fishbowl that is Toronto Jason. Just keep getting the points and the background noise will soon disappear (unless you are traded soon).
Boston looked pretty flat tonight. They did pepper Tellqvist with some shots in the first two periods but by the third they looked like they had run out of gas completely.
I like the way the Leafs are playing defensively lately however the shots on goal are still a little high. And guess what? If you're playing Toronto you probably want to stay out of the penalty box. The Leafs currently have the best power play in the league - those who haven’t watched this team over the past 7 years have to realize just how significant this is.
For years the Leafs have been hobbled with a sub-par power play and to see it finally clicking is a great thing. Although there are plenty in the media who think that it is a sign of how weak the Leafs are because they don’t score as many in 5 on 5 situation. Now I’m no hockey expert (ok I like to think I am) but a good power play has long been considered one of the cornerstones of a successful team. Except I guess where the Leafs are concerned.
Lindros who scored his 10th goal tonight leads the Leafs in goals and has now equaled his output from the last time he played when it took him 31 games to score 10. Eric’s goal came on a beauty pass between the legs from Domi – has he been taking lesson’s from Wellwood?
Boston fans were not happy with their teams performance tonight and let the Bruins know it with a cascade of boos as the game wound down. All is not right in Beantown right now.
With the win the Leafs extend their winning streak to three move into a tie with Philly and are now just two points behind Ottawa (well as I right this Ottawa has just pumped in two goals against Florida so I assume they will hold on and regain their four point bulge).
Saturday is the grudge match with the Atlanta . The Leafs want to avenge the cheap shots that Atlanta took at their star players last time and the Thrashers want to avenge a 9-1 drubbing they suffered in that same game.
Should be a good one.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
I am supposed to believe that Ottawa's Brian Pothier or Andrej Meszaros could magically transplant themselves to the Leafs and turn the great ship blue-and-white around, but that's silly. The Leafs' system, or lack thereof, would turn any of those defensemen into the same flawed hockey players that Berg and Khavanov are now.
Colby Cosh in the comments writes
I'm not suggesting that Andrej Meszaros is truly a typical sixth defenceman, but he is reported to be terrific and has a rather annihilating +16 through 15 games. I doubt anyone in Ottawa even still considers him the #6
Yeah - most would consider he's past Pothier now on the depth chart. It tough though to really gauge where he's at - as the Chara/Phillips tandem is playing against the top lines.
As I say that, you can see from last nights stats that Pothier had 5 minutes more icetime than Meszaros. They were initally paired but Pothier was put with Redden instead of Volchenkov for the last half of the third as the Sens tried for the tying goal. I guess that tells you something about the depth chart.
Uh, the team was distracted by the election talk. Yeah - that's it.
0 for 8 on the powerplay including a 5 on 3 in the late stages of the third. I think everyone was expecting them to tie it up.
A couple bits from Sens bloggers.....
I mentioned Alfredsson’s affliction for missing the goal when playing the point on the PP above, but the entire team was particularly poor in this sense last night. On the Team 1200’s post game show they said the Sens had 28 missed shots, and while I’m not sure that number is official, it doesn’t sound outrageous.
No kidding! I think the Sens must have busted a couple dozen shinpads last night - a lot of big shots blocked by Carolina.
It's only the third loss this season, but it's the third too many. (I'm still in my unreasonable expectations mode here, give me a few hours.) The power-play could have tied this, won this for us so many times, so it's time to blow the whole power-play up. They're too tenative, too scared on the puck on the power-play. Hell, most of the time, they have better chances on the penalty kill.
I think Havlat had more shots on the penalty kills than we would get on the PP.
Jacques returns to Ottawa tomorrow. Should be a good one.
C'mon lads, at least go the ESPN2 route and drop some log rolling / bassmasters / spelling bees into the rotation.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Hey, two game win streak! And anytime you limit Jagr to one goal you are doing something right.
Some quick thoughts:
The Leafs played a decent first period matching shots with the Rangers and scoring the only goal as McCabe scored on a two man advantage. Jagr took over during the second and powered his way into the Leafs zone a couple of times before scoring. McCabe again was the hero in the third putting a howizter by Weeks for the winner.
Allison was on a line with Poni and Andropov. Maybe we could call it the Trade Bait Line? Harry Neale noted that Allison looked faster tonight. Well Harry, consider who his linemates were.
As has been the case with the past few games there have been some penalties committed against the Leafs that weren't called. Most noticeably a hook on Sundin late in the game that would have put the Rangers down for the final minute.
Alex Steen was on the ice during the last minute protecting a lead with the Ranger's goalie pulled. What does that say about Quinn's confidence in him? A lot
McCabe was the star tonight as well as the Leafs defense as a whole - they didn't give up 30 shots for the first time in, well, I don't know how long.
How do you like the new NHL? 2-1 that isn't really a high scoring game and 28-24 isn't really a lot of shots. Additionally there weren't a lot of penalties. Could it be that players are adjusting and learning how to slow the game down?
Pittsburgh is apparently shopping Ziggy Palffy, and as crazy as this sounds I've heard Allison and Kronwall/Colaiacovo for Palffy. The numbers would be about equal as far as cap space goes, and the Leafs were very interested in Palffy this summer. This could be one to watch.
We'll let Strachan shoot this one down tomorrow shall we?
By The Meatriarchy
Which of these men is playing goal for the Leafs? With the surprising Rangers featuring a rejuvenated Jagr in town tonight Leafs fans would like to know.
I would assume that it is Ed Belfour. Cause over the weekend I kept asking myself over and over and over again: "When did Arturs Irbe start playing for the Leafs"
Monday, November 14, 2005
vs Sabres 12 Nov 2005 6-1
vs Islanders 05 Nov 2005 6-0
@ Maple Leafs 29 Oct 2005 8-0
vs Bruins 15 Oct 2005 5-1
vs Sabres 08 Oct 2005 5-0
In hindsight, it was wise of Pizza Pizza to change their free pizza give-away to 6 goals scored instead of the 5 it was for the past few years. That would have been a lot of free pizza.
UPDATE: On the Team1200 drive home show they were taking suggestions for names for the top line of Spezza, Alfie, and Heatley. The Pizza Line was one of the favourites!
I suggested the following name to my carpooler - Capital Punishment.
Saturday, November 12, 2005
Several sources including Bob Mckenzie of TSN have Jason Allison being shopped by the Leafs. The big center has played well but has been a defensive liability and has been unhappy with his playing time.
Center is just about the only position where the Leafs have any depth with Sundin Lindros Stajan and Wellwood all playing very well.
The big stumbling block is supposedly Allison's contract which is heavily laden with bonuses and by extension - cap ramifications. Apparently the Leafs want a strong player in return - preferably a puck moving defenseman like Janne Niinimaa from the Islanders (whose name has come up in rumours already this year).
The Leafs do have to address the defensive situation as Kaberle and McCabe will probably begin to break down if they have to log 30 mins a game for 82 games.
I wouldn't like to lose Allison unless the return was good but some people are speculating that he might even be put on waivers - I hope that isn't true.
Still Leafs fans have to be encouraged that the team's development system is producing NHL calibre talent that would allow the Leafs to sacrifice Allison to address team weaknesses in other areas.
Friday, November 11, 2005
Perhaps lost in the score will be Hasek's 37 saves including 16 in the first period. The top line was again flying and Havlat continues to provide balance by making his line with Schaefer and Vermette dangerous every time on the ice.
After that first period, supposedly Murray had a little talk with the team:
After a major rip job by coach Bryan Murray in the first intermission last night at the TD Banknorth Garden, the Senators were ready to play.
"I had lots to say," said Murray. "I knew we had been outshot 17-5 and I thought Dominik (Hasek) was keeping us in the game and I told them the way we were playing, we were embarrassing ourselves.
The team is going to need to tighten things up defensively - sloppy execution at times led to the Bruin SH goal and other very good Boston chances. I suppose when things are going this well offensively, it's bound to happen.
No matter what the standings in any year the Sabres always bring their A game when the Leafs come to town and this year Buffalo has a better team than it has had in some time.
How hard has it been for the Leafs to win in Buffalo? Well they are 20-43-6 lifetime in Buffalo. That's a puny .333 winning percentage. Worse still since the Sabres abandoned the Aud and moved to the HSBC arena the Leafs are 4-11-3 (ouch).
Word is that Aki Berg will return to the line up as Carlo Colaiacovo has been sent down to the Marlies (although others speculate that this is a cap move). With the return of Berg the Leafs are completely healthy for the first time this season.
Belfour might start tonight and tomorrow in Montreal although a struggling Mikael Tellqvist certainly could use a chance to recover from the poor outing he had Sunday in Washington.
If he does get the not tonight it could be a long one for Leafs fans.
Thursday, November 10, 2005
Am I right to say that there hasn't been a Leaf winner of the Calder trophy since Brit Selby?
Wendel here was close in '86 - an amazing season by cheap shot artist Gary Suter took it away from him.
Could Alexander Steen actually bring the award to Toronto from under the noses of Ovechin/Crosby/Phaneuf?
Alfie in '96 won it for the Senators. An update on Brandon Bochenski - a long shot Calder pick of some people after his amazing preseason - he's got 2 goals and 4 pts in the 3 games back in Binghamton.
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Buzz keeps his head down most of the time and of course, like all Leaf fans around here, had to deal with the Halloween debacle:
Lets face it, even if you’re a ‘Leaf fan, we have known that the Sens are a better team on paper. Their offence is one of the best in the league. But, ‘Leaf fans also knew their team could beat them in the alley. That came to an end on Saturday night at 2:27 of the second period. Brian McGratton’s KO of Maple Leafs tough guy Tie Domi. The fight left Domi with a broken nose. Game. Set. Match.The final score - Sens 8, the Maple Leafs 0. That one punch has quickly changed the history of hockey’s best feud. Advantage – Ottawa . Enjoy it Sens fans.
I was at Copps Coliseum last night and thus missed the game. And no I wasn't at a hockey game I was at a Keith Urban concert with my wife (STOP LAUGHING!!).
But it appeared the Leafs got back on track (to a degree) with Sundin, O'Neil, McCabe scoring. Carlo has his first goal and a strong game and Wellwood chips in with two points.
I will catch the game sometime over the course of the day on "game in an hour" on Leafs TV so if I have any more observations I will post them.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
I don't even know why I'm bothering with all this nonsense, because this comment thread, and basically, the entire blog, has evolved into some stupid name calling, cheerleading and very little analysis
Okay, okay. I'll admit I'm guilty of the above.
I'll start adding more substantive posts in the days to come but for now I'll leave everyone with this question....
JFJ has a card to play sometime in the next two years if he needs it - the firing of Pat Quinn. If the Leafs hover at 0.500 into 2006 does he use it, does management force him? Will Quinn be let go in the off-season if the Leafs fail to make the playoffs/2nd round/etc?
You may not accept the premise of the question - convinced the Leafs will have a successful season/playoffs. However, if you like to speculate, I'd like to know the range of opinions out there.
If you read the copious amounts of ink spilled in the local papers or listen to the amount of hot air expended via the local radio stations about the supposed failings of the Leafs, their coach, their GM and the organization in general you will hear a lot of criticism.
You will hear about how they never have gotten a decent winger to play with Sundin, how Quinn limits Sundin's production by limiting his ice time, how Wellwood should stay with the big club, how Wellwood should be sent down, how the team is old, slow, brittle, weak on defense and on and on and on.
However you rarely hear about a glaring weakness that this team has which was readily apparent on Sunday afternoon. And that is the one position that is a lot more easily fixed than some of the other problems.
I talking about the back up goalie position. Mikael Tellqvist has been with the organization for at least three years now and while he has shown some flashes of potential he never has played well over a consistent stretch of time.
Tellqvist doesn't have the most difficult job in the world. He has the best seat in the house for every hockey game and he gets paid a handsome salary to sit on the end of the bench most nights.
But when he is called upon to actually earn his paycheque one would expect better performances out of him if he has any aspirations of being a regular NHL goalie on any team in this league.
Too many times over the past three years the Leafs have skated out against inferior opponents only to have soft goals take away potential victories.
On Sunday afternoon Telly looked horrible on two of the four Capital goals and didn't exactly stand on his head for the rest of the engagement either.
The Leafs can't afford to give away two points every time Belfour rests - no team can. And you can't tell me there aren't better options around the league than Tellqvist.
A few years ago the Leafs had a very capable backup netminder in Corey Schwab. That guy played his heart out every time he was asked to. I can't recall a single game (well the one earlier this year against Philly) in his entire career that Tellqvist has looked brilliant from start to finish.
And I say this with some trepidation because from what I see of him in interviews he seems like a genuinely nice person and I don't want to criticize someone who is obviously classy when there are plenty of other jerks in pro-sport to go after.
But the fact remains that this is a very weak position for the Leafs and it needs to be addressed soon if this team wants to make the playoffs. There are probably 20 games that Belfour won't start this year. That is 40 points you can't afford to automatically give away.
Over to you JFJ.
Sunday, November 06, 2005
"I knew this was a strong team when I signed here, but I'm surprised with how well we've played.The Leafs actually held onto their third period lead last night and beat the defending champs.
"I don't know if we're going to play like this all year, but it's pretty easy to win when you're scoring six or eight goals a game. I'm amazed with how well we play offensively and defensively."
That being said, winning one game isn't going to stop the hometown papers from printing things columns like the following:
We shouldn't give Gross too much credit for his critical analyis - it's like shooting fish in a barrel.
The best category for the Buds as a team is the power play percentage, in which they were ranked second in the league. However, if you remove their blowout win over the Atlanta Thrashers from the mix, the Leafs would be out of the top 10.
The Leafs ranked 10th in goals scored per game and tied for 14th in goals allowed per game. The team is a negative combined statistic in those two categories. In contrast, 13 teams have a positive combined statistic in the goals per game categories. Again, removing the Atlanta game would drop the Buds even lower in both categories and widen the negative margin.
The Leafs were a dismal 26th in total shots per game and an equally dismal
22nd in shots allowed per game. On average, the team was giving up six more shots per game to its opponents than it generated.
Everyone is aware of the worst statistic for the team -- its five-on-five record. It is with good reason that everyone is concerned because the team was ranked near the bottom (27th).
The early season bright star, Bryan McCabe, was, at one time, tied for first in the NHL scoring race with 15 points. However, that was several games ago and McCabe (before yesterday) still had 15 points and had fallen into a tie for 24th place with 10 other players. However, out of 232 defencemen to play so far this year, only SIX had a worse plus/minus than McCabe's -6.
While the top defensive pair of McCabe and Kaberle is generating lots of points (24), they are a combined minus-9, the lowest combined total in the NHL for a team's top pairing.
Friday, November 04, 2005
Thursday, November 03, 2005
"A couple of times they dressed me up as a girl."
Toronto Maple Leaf Matt Stajan says his parents used to dress him up as a female nurse
Stajan also deserves credit for being among the Leaf leaders in +/- at a whopping +2.
From The Score via Spector's Trade Rumours
Bad news for the Florida Panthers, who may be without the services of veteran center Joe Nieuwendyk (back) for the rest of the 2005-06 campaign--according to published reports out of South Florida. In fact, the 39-year-old Nieuwendyk's career may be in jeopardy--depending on what the results from examinations done earlier in the week show. If back surgery is recommended, Nieuwendyk will be done for the year. In seven games this season, he managed just one goal and three points--to go along with a plus-1 rating and eight penalty minutes.
Remember how the local media went nuts when Roberts and Nieuwendyk jumped to Florida? They claimed JFJ was completely unprepared:
The Leafs, without question, have been caught utterly flatfooted by the frenzy of activity over the past two weeks.
They were seemingly floored by the entire Owen Nolan mess, and then, after making a decent move by picking up Jeff O'Neill from the Carolina Hurricanes, found that addition overshadowed by the loss of veterans Gary Roberts and Joe Nieuwendyk to Florida.
Thus spake Damian Cox author of such classics as "Scrimping Leafs Short Changed on Talent", "Leafs Beaten Again" "Leafs Hamstrung without trade bait" and lets not forget "Old-look Leafs set up to fail in the New NHL". Sorry I don't have time to hyperlink them but most are still on the Star's website.
Most people who had a reasonably objective view of hockey saw the departure of the two veteran Leafs forwards and later Mogilny as a necessary evolution. All three were past their prime and all three were as injury prone as their three replacements (Lindros, Allison and O'Neil). Several media wags took great pains to point out that the Leafs would not be able to replace all that prolific scoring from Joe, Gary, and Almo.
Well to date Lindros himself has outscored the three amigos.
I guess Strachan, Simmons, Cox et.al. are preparing their mea culpas?
I wouldn't hold your breath on that one.
Eric Staal, Carolina: 22 points
Jason Spezza, Ottawa: 22 points
Daniel Alfredsson, Ottawa: 21 points
Dany Heatly, Ottawa: 21 points
Not bad! And if things weren't good enough for the Sens fan, Bryan McCabe has dropped to 27th. Man, Mats Sundin can't get back soon enough.
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
The Toronto Star is reporting that the CBC and Hockey Night In Canada is Toronto-centric and displays a favoritism towards the Maple Leafs to the point of neglecting the other Canadian teams!. I'm just waiting for their shocking expose on how water is wet, followed by a six-part investigation into the Pope actually being Catholic.
Comments: McGrattan tries to hit Domi along the boards. Domi gives him the elbow and they decide to go. Good, fair square off. They come together and hold on. They exchange a few punches and Domi lands a couple of jersey shots. McGrattan then lands a bomb and Domi goes down. Domi was cut and had to leave.(Hockeyfights.com)
Voted winner: Brian McGrattan
On October 28, 1991 the Pittsburgh Penguins were beaten 8-0. They came out two days later and won their very next game... and went on to win the Cup that year.
So it was that the Leafs exorcised their own demon from October 28 and shook off the 8-0 loss to beat the Panthers 2-1.
This was not a game without some nervousness however as Gary Roberts scored on the first shift making both McCabe and Belfour look pretty bad in the process. He then proceeded to deck Jeff O'Neil and then we didn't see much of him till late in the third period when he punched Jason Allison in the face and took a pretty dumb penalty in my books.
Speaking of penalties was this like a game from two years ago or what? Jacques Martin may be coaching in the new NHL but his team sure doesn't play like it. They hooked and clawed and grabbed their way through the whole game without remonstration from the officials. And then late in the third period the mildest sort of hook from Ponikarovsky results in his being sent off and Florida mounting a furious charge to test Belfour in the last four minutes. Eddy however showed he had exorcised some ghosts of his own (including the first period one) and stoned the Panthers cold.
No surprise that he was named the first star. And no surprise that Kyle Wellwood was a star as well, he was dangerous all night and set up Tucker for a pp goal in the first period.
Other standouts included Lindros who is back to his form of earlier this season and Allison who looked rejuvenated on the line with Steen and Stajan. I really like the looks of that combo and hope they stick together for a couple of games.
Belak was moved to forward and looked much more comfortable than he did on defense. Again this will be permanent I hope. The Leafs defense on a whole looked much better than they have for the past 4 games with very few defensive breakdowns. Quinn once again played Berg on the pk without hesitation. Showing he has tremendous faith in him or is thumbing his nose at Fergie (if the rumours of their feud are to be believed).
But the best news of all last night came off the ice as it was announced that Matts Sundin has been cleared to practice with the team. When Sundin and Andropov return I hope it means that some of the fourth liners (like Belak) get regulated to the stands and not Wellwood. However Quinn is not pleased with Kyle after he tried a hot-dog move (in Quinn's mind) by trying to shoot the puck between his skates during a surprise rush when the puck bounced out from the boards right to Wellwood in front of the net. To be fair to Wellwood he was almost past the puck and it seemed that it was the only way to reach the it.
However Quinn has zero tolerance with rookies for any sort of mistake and this could be a big black mark on the ledger next to Kyle's name.
Reports last night were that Sundin could be back as early as the 5th of November so all you folks who have written this team off remember we have been without our best player and captain since the season started. This team will improve greatly with his return.
Don't count this team out under any circumstances.
The surprising Carolina Hurricanes are up next on Thursday. Onward and upward!
Monday, October 31, 2005
It was 5-0 at that point, and I was pretty much rolling on the floor by the time they punched in the last three.
There's plenty more where that came from, Leaf Nation -- just be thankful we're just closing out October and you're not in a late April scrap with the Islanders for the last playoff spot in the east. May Saturday's arse-whooping haunt you for the rest of the season.
The Leafs should be well rested for this one since they technically haven't played a game since Thursday against Boston. They did show up for an optional skate on Saturday night but really didn't break much of a sweat.
Belfour has only played half a game since Tuesday so he should be fresh as a daisy.
This will be the homecoming of Gary and Joe and look for both of them to play with some fire in their bellies. The big obstacle is of course in goal with Florida's phenomenal Roberto Luongo one of the best in the game right now.
The Leafs are nursing a number of injuries right now and will be without Sundin, Andropov, Berg, and Czerkawki and possibly some others.
Florida and the Leafs have very similar records with the Panthers being one point ahead of the Leafs in the conference standings. Their goals for and against totals look wildly different until you subtract the two Leaf lopsided outings (Atlanta and Ottawa) then they look almost identical as well.
This will be a very interesting match-up as many will see it as an old vs new battle from a Leafs perspective.
More importantly however is how the Leafs will respond. Not just to the debacle that was Saturday night but to the past week in general. The Leafs have looked poor even in some of the games they have won. In fact they looked better in the first three games of the season when they were 0-3 than they have looked over the past half dozen or so when they have been 3-3 (roughly).
It might be time for Quinn to re-adjust his lines somewhat as the Allison-Tucker-O'Neil line has been dreadful in their own end. Also Lindros has been somewhat invisible over the past few games. A good shake up might give all these guys some incentive to play better. Steen is one of the most responsible defensive players they have right now. Perhaps he moves to the #2 line?
Just a thought.
And just to prove that I don't always disagree with Damian Cox here is a link to his column in today's Star which I pretty much agree with. At least more than I ever have with him in the past.
UPDATE: Link to Cox's column now fixed.
Sunday, October 30, 2005
Eight - nothing.
VIII - 0
By the way, does anyone have a picture of Domi's face after meeting up with McGratton?
I didn't see this part on HNIC - from Hockey Country:
Don Cherry made a comment after the game about being disappointed that no other Leafs went at McGrattan, but I truly think they were so shocked they didn’t know how to respond. And who would’ve? Wade Belak already had a broken nose. Nathan Perrott has never been a true heavyweight. Who? Eric Lindros?These are not the Leafs of a few years ago. Perrott, by the way, was -4 in about 10 minutes of icetime.
Oh, and the entire Ottawa region breathed a sigh of relief when it turned out that Tucker was going to be okay. We love the guy - we really do.
Philly is in town tonight. This one is a good candidate for a letdown game - hopefully the home crowd, excited about last nights win, will get the team into the game quickly.
Excuse me Mr. Cherry!? Joe Thornton was drafted first overall in 1997. How could the Leafs have taken him? They didn't even have a 1st or 2nd round pick.
Jason Spezza was drafted 2nd overall in 2001. The Leafs did not pick until 17 and took Toronto boy Carlo Colaiacovo.
Eric Staal was taken 2nd overall in 2003 and Corey Perry 28th. The Leafs did not have a pick until 57th - where they took American John Doherty.
Let's look at the last several years for the Leafs.
2005 - Tuuka Rusk - G, 21st. Can anybody dispute that the Leafs will need a goaltender. Finish or otherwise
2004 - No pick until the 3rd Round. They took Canadian Goalie Justin Pogge.
2003 - No pick until the 2nd Round. They took American Defenseman John Doherty.
2002 - 24th pick, Alex Steen. Can you find a better Canadian taken after him? Maybe Matt Stajan taken 57th by the Leafs.
2001 - 17th pick, Carlo Coloaiacovo - sure he hasn't made it (yet) but the only other option would have been Jeff Woywitka - it was a pretty slim draft.
2000 - 24th pick, Mississauga resident, Brad Boyes.
How far back do you want to go? Was there a Canadian better than Luca Cereda taken 24th overall in 1999? Not really - unless you go with Mike Commodore - another year of bad depth in the draft.
You have to go all the way back to 1999 for the Cherry to have a point. The Leafs took Nikolai Antropov at 10 instead of Alex Tanguay or Simon Gagne - oh wait, they're from Quebec, Cherry probably wouldn't count them.
Furthermore, the Leafs dressed two, TWO, European forwards last night. Alex Steen and Alexei Ponikarovsky (a 4th Rd pick by the way). And they dressed three Europeans of defense, Tomas Kaberle (a brilliant 8th Rd pick), Alexander Khavanov and Staffan Kronwall (looking to be a brilliant 9th Rd pick). Let it be said that the all-star Canadian Wade Belak was solidly in the line-up.
Saturday, October 29, 2005
Friday, October 28, 2005
GP G A P
Moligny 9 4 4 8
Nieuwendyk 7 1 2 3
Roberts 6 0 0 0
Lindros 10 8 3 11
Allison 10 2 8 10
O'Neill 8 4 4 8
Yeah, I will take the 29 points (or a point a game) versus 11 points (1/2 a point a game) any year.
Detroit: (1) 120.7, (1) 17
Toronto: (3) 114.1, (2) 11
Minnesota: (2) 120.3, (3) 10
Colorado: (4) 112.1 (4) 6
Ottawa: (6) 108.1 (5) 6
Trust me, it is the same for the ones at the bottom. However, notice one thing. An aggregate score of 100 gets you no where - it is now distinctly middle of the pack. To have truly good special teams your PP% + PK% needs to be above 105. We will see if this holds at the total number of power plays goes down as the season moves on.
Consequently the Leafs will turn in an impressive shot clock performance and lose - standing all logic on it's head.
So it was last night as the Leafs threw 37 shots at the Bruins backup goalie and could only manage a single goal.
Hannu Toivonen (got him in the pool?) looked fabulous and one has to like the Bruin's depth in goal going forward. If this kid plays like he did last night they are in an excellent position come next year should Raycroft (who I think is a free agent next year) bolt to another club.
Lindros had another third period goal (he seems to only score in this period) but didn't seem as visible as he has for most games this season. In fact during the first period I thought he wasn't playing.
The Stajan-Steen-Ponikarovsky was the Leafs best unit last night and Czerkawski had his best game of the season. And by that I mean he looked like an NHL player, not some beer league floater.
Special merit should go to Leafs play-by-play man Joe Bowen who with 2 minutes to go mentioned the word shutout immediately resulting in a Leaf goal to ruin Toivonen's stellar performance to that point.
Ottawa tomorrow night - bring it on!
Thursday, October 27, 2005
The way things are going for McCabe, he might be rubbing elbows with some of the greats of the game by the end of the 2005-06 season.Riiiiiiiight. Oh, and Jason Allison is on pace to end up with a -63 plus/minus rating - a Leaf record too?
Should he not let up in point production, a 136-point season by McCabe would be three fewer than Bobby Orr posted in 1970-71 and two less than Paul Coffey's career high in 1985-86.
So the conclusion - not all Toronto writers are anti-Leaf - they are just all idiots from living in the stink hole that is Toronto? That was a little crude - sorry. Related to that though, there was a winner of the 6/49 draw last night from Ottawa as well but when he heard he had to go to Toronto to claim the winnings he decided against it.
The Leafs have won twice on the second game of a back-to-back so it is no longer a lock that the team who is rested beats the team who has played twice in 48 hours. But at least they will be facing either the B's backup goalie or a tired Andrew Raycroft.
Meantime the rumours continue to fly around a trade with Washington for Witt. Apparently the Islanders are in conversation with the Leafs regarding defenseman Janne Niinimaa who has become a target for the boo-birds on the Island. As a side not check out the Islanders website for their team section - isn't that priceless?
Additionally JFJ is apparently trying to move Wade Belak. But who would want him? Unless someone has a need for a rugged forward? 'Cause no one is going to take him as a defenseman.
Well, maybe Pittsburgh.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
After putting the cruise control on after the 2-0 lead and then finding themselves down in the third, the Sens put the machine back into gear and peppered Gerber with 24 shots in the final frame. They couldn't get one by him though and "the dream of the undefeated season" is over - thanks for that Bruce.
Making the night worse, the Leafs finally won a shootout and picked up two points. Looking for something to cheer me up, I find this....
1. A loss to Carolina might help them beat out Toronto for the last playoff spot come springtime.
UPDATE: Mirlte's take on the Canes - hint - he predicted them to make the playoffs.
2. Damien Cox this morning:
Most conveniently for the Leafs, meanwhile, the "new" NHL also allows you to play really, really lousy and win.
The Leafs followed up a solid first period by allowing 44 shots in the succeeding 45 minutes of play. They took the final six penalties of the night, playing 7:22 of the final 10:10 shorthanded, and every single call was a good one.
I mean, Ken Klee, c'mon. You hook a guy under the arms on a clear breakaway, you're lucky to get only a minor. Egging the fans on by pretending you did nothing wrong won't make the referees your friend.
Along the way the Leafs also blew their 13th lead of the season in only their ninth game and saw Belfour allow two awful goals.
That feels better.
Ok JFJ is working the phones hard and he wants a defencemen badly.
He is still talking to Washington, St. Louis and Colorado. Here's the break down:
Witt would cost Antropov and a pick, but that is to high of a price for Witt, go check out his stats he isn't very good. (L4)
Jackman would cost Colaiacovo and Stajan, the scary thing here is that JFJ is considering it. (L3) Talks have gotten more serious!
Sauer would cost a second rounder, only problem is he isn't worth that and then the dollars don't add up. (L2)
JFJ is trying really hard to get ridof Czerkawski and Belak, he is willing to stick with Berg a little longer, but many feel that, that is a Quinn decision and not JFJ. There are no takers for either player at this moment... what does that tell you?
And later on in the same discussion thread:
New info just came past me right this minute. JFJ has called a conference call with both Caps and Blues GM about the possibilityof a three way deal. ...
... This is unconfirmed at the moment, but the three way deal that JFJ is hoping for might look like this, again unconfirmed!
To Toronto: Witt
To St. Louis: 2nd Rounder (Tor) Washington top prospect, 4th Rounder (Was)
Where to begin with this one? At least it didn’t resemble anything like that stinking pile left on the ice Saturday night disguised as a hockey game.
This one featured skating from both sides and some pretty wide open and entertaining hockey. In fact it was a highly entertaining affair.
It also featured a number of brain cramps from the Leafs most notably Eddie Belfour wandering out to claim a puck in the new restricted area and then realizing where he was. This allowed the Bruins to score but Eddie wasn’t 100% to blame. At least two other Leafs stood by and allowed this to happen.
As fans we know that these guys are human and make mistakes, we know they aren’t going to play perfectly each time out however what we do want to see are players that get “plumb maddog mean” (to quote Clint Eastwood in Josie Wales) afterwards and elevate their game to a new level.
Belfour certainly did that last night and while he was directly responsible for two of the Bruins goals in regulation time he played like a man possessed in the final minutes of the game (when the Leafs were two men short) and into the overtime where he was the big reason the Bruins didn’t score on a long (four minute) powerplay. Actually he was the only reason they didn’t score.
Alexander Khavanov also made up for his brain cramp that caused another of the Bruin’s goals by scoring on the power play on a lovely feed from Kyle Wellwood. Who managed to get a point despite only playing for 6 minutes.
And Alexei Ponikarovsky of all people scored a shorthanded goal from Matt Stajan. In fact the Leafs sometimes looked just as dangerous shorthanded as they did at full strength.
You could say this game was a battle of the special teams. The Leafs went 2-4 on the powerplay; while the Bruins were 0-10. The Leafs penalty killers not only killed off all penalties but scored a short handed goal as well. The Bruins penalty killers didn’t look so good. And that newest of special teams – the shoot out participants sealed the extra point for the Buds. Once again Belfour figured huge turning away all the Bruins shooters while the Leafs only needed a goal from Lindros (who had an assist as well last night) to win the skills competition.
For the record I am still not a shootout fan – I watched it of course but it is more like an ordeal to be endured rather than an exciting end to a game. I would much prefer another five minutes of overtime.
Also how nice is it to look at the standings this morning and see the Leafs and Senators tied. Looking forward to extending your losing streak on Saturday Sens fans.
One more thing, McCabe’s goal last night ties him with Jagr for the scoring lead. How sweet it is!
Monday, October 24, 2005
on Hockey Night in Canada in Toronto....
THE BATTLE OF ONTARIO RESUMES!!!
"I think (McCabe) can win the Norris Trophy and he's the best player I've played with in my career as a partner," Leetch told the Star. "I was hoping that I would be able to play with him and help him gain that distinction and have a small part in it, but he obviously didn't need me because he's on his way anyway."
Hat-tip to Hockey Hearsay.
Sunday, October 23, 2005
What can you say about this excuse for a hockey game. Neither team looked particularly interested in winning until the third period when the Flyers bounced a few in off legs, arms, and butts and walked away with two points.
I missed most of the first period but if it was as bad as the second I am glad I wasn't subjected to it.
Leafs fans are used to seeing games like this every so often. They seemed to always happen in a situation where a cellar dweller (like Washington or Atlanta) were in town and the Leafs seemed to have no interest in playing the game.
So it was in this one the team looked unanimously uninterested and sluggish. This wasn't much different than the game on Thursday but they skated enough in that one to pull out a win in OT. There was precious little skating done in last nights match however Quinn will no doubt be secretly happy with the outcome.
Why? Because he was complaining last week that the team was too cocky and not sharp in practice. Well now he has something to beat them over the head with as Boston is on tap for a home and home this coming week.
Officiating in last nights game was inconsistent to say the least. The great thing about the new crackdown during exhibition was the absolute guarantee that interference away from the play would be called. Now they seem to be calling interference right on the puck. If you have the puck and pass it too someone and then get hit - interference. This is taking the hitting out of the game.
Don Cherry was complaining about the penalties as well but I don't agree with him that cross checking in front of the net should be allowed.
And let's not forget that brutal call that took a Leaf goal away early in period two. Based on the final score it would not have affected the outcome but it just might have created some momentum.
Ultimately though it wasn't the refs that decided this contest. If you allow a short handed goal when you have a two man advantage you should forfeit the game right then and there.
BTW did Wellwood play last night? I didn't hear his name once.
After the Leaf game I thought I would catch a little of the Canucks - Avalanche tilt what with the whole Bertuzzi thing and all. However much to my chagrin Jim Hughson is dong the play by play.
Boy I feel bad for you viewers in the west. After years of suffering through Chris Cuthbert's high pitched screech now you get a guy who calls hockey as if it was a baseball game: slow and ponderous.
Please don't tell me he will be the one tagged to replace Bob Cole. Cause I would seriously think about switching to basketball.