Wednesday, October 27, 2010
There is no blog for Saturday's game against the Philadelphia Flyers. Quite frankly, I was disgusted with the effort and couldn't bring myself to write about it. However, for the sake of completeness, here's what you need to know. The Leafs didn't generate any offense, getting out shot 40 - 14. The Leafs only offense came from the usual suspects, Phil Kessel and Clarke MacArthur. Defensively the Leafs were atrocious in their own end committing far too many turnovers, ultimately leading to a 5 - 2 loss.
Speaking of too many turnovers, the Leafs next opponent was former teammate Bryan McCabe and the Florida Panthers. The Maple Leafs didn't play their best game of the season but fought hard, and dug deep to gain a valuable two points. Ron Wilson's line alterations seemed to spark the teams offense. The reformed line of Bozak, Kessel, and Kulemin, gave the Leafs the lead on the power play as Tyler Bozak finally scored his first goal of the season . Then in the second period after a ten minute technical delay, the Leafs seemed to slack off allowing Florida a power play goal of there own to tie the game. Mid way through the third period the hockey gods seemed to be smiling on the Leafs. Colton Orr had a Tim Brent shot bounce off his skate and in, as he was crashing the net. The play was clearly goaltender interference, but the officials didn't call the penalty, or call the goal back. I call that justice for the amount of times the Leafs got screwed by lackluster officiating last Monday against the Islanders. Late in the third period, after a really long shift, Phil Kessel took the puck and, skated past the remaining Florida defender faster then a speeding bullet, and snapped a shot seemingly more powerful then a locomotive, past Scott Clemmensen to save the win by a 3 - 1 score.
Friday, October 22, 2010
There's really nothing to say about this game from a Leafs perspective. The Leafs were pretty much flat for the entire game. It almost seemed like the team was tired or disinterested. They couldn't generate sustained offensive pressure, and defensively the pairings looked unorganized and kept getting themselves out of position, leading to Rangers chances. Luke Schenn was the exception. He continues to be superb on the back end this season, and even attempted to create chances offensively. Simply put, the New York Rangers were the better team on the ice last night, and deserved the two points. Had it not been for a late goal by Colby Armstrong, and superb goal tending from Gustavsson, the scoreline would have been far worse then 2 - 1. Sure this effort was disappointing, and the worst of the season. Am I ready to hit the panic button? No, because every team has games like this one throughout a long season. It's the response, and effort in games following a game such as this that determine the quality and resilience of a team. The Maple Leafs will look for a better effort, and result when they face the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Well, all good things must come to an end, and the Toronto Maple Leafs winning streak is over. The "bastard child" of all the New York based hockey teams, the New York Islanders halted our winning streak at four, with a 2 - 1 overtime victory. Phil Kessel scored the Leafs lone goal, late in the third to force OT. The overtime result has given the Maple Leafs another streak to lay claim to. The Blue and White are unbeaten in regulation time this season with a record of 4 - 0 - 1, with 9 points. That my friends, is still the best record in the NHL! Let's be honest, the Leafs deserved two points not just one. We out played and out chanced the Islanders. To put it simply, we were victimized by atrocious officiating. Versteeg had a good goal that the ref deemed no good because he knocked it out of the air above the bar. Bull$#it! After watching the replay, you can see that his stick wasn't too high, the goal was good. Then there was the penalty that wasn't called in OT, when Kulemin got hauled down by an Islander player. Shortly there after, the zebra's call a debatable goaltender interference penalty on the Leafs. Islanders goalie Dwayne Roloson went down with ease. In fact, he looked like a seal flopping around in his net. Evidently, it just wasn't our night. I was at this game, and the atmosphere was great. The best crowd reaction I've seen in six years. Leaf fans are happy and excited again. There is light,at the end of the tunnel. As the old saying goes, at least we got a point.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
The Toronto Maple Leafs have won their fourth straight game of the regular season. In doing so, the Maple Leafs are off to their best start in 17 years. Is this a case of deja vu of 1993? Well I'll be damned if I'm going to be the one to jinx it by saying so, but these are fun times to be a Leafs fan. The Leafs didn't make the situation easy for themselves, as they gave up the first goal of the game for the first time this season. A heavily screened Giguere allowed the first goal, affording the Rangers the lead, despite the Leafs domination of the period. The Blue and White continued their domination in the second period, and scored three unanswered goals to gain the lead. Clarke MacArthur tied it, after tapping in a shot that was seemingly sitting on the goal line. The goal gives MacArthur five on the season. He also holds the record as the first player as a Leaf to score a goal in all of the first four games of the season. Mike Komisarek scored his first goal as a Leaf on a point shot, thanks to a pass from Phil Kessel. Kessel then put the Leafs up by two after taking a beautiful pass from Tyler Bozak, and slipping it past an outstretched Lundqvist. Complacency and a lackluster 5 on 3 attempt by Toronto allowed New York to tie the game in the third period. A beautiful reactionary right pad save by Giguere, guaranteed that this game would need an extra period. In the extra frame, Phil Kessel snapped a shot passed an unsuspecting Lundqvist on the power play to give the Leafs the 4 - 3 win. Kessel's three point night, Giguere's willingness to battle through adversity, and relentless puck pursuit were the keys to victory in this contest. I will be in attendance as the fantasic four look to complete the drive for five Monday night versus the New York Islanders.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
The Blue and White found themselves behind in a game for the first time this season. Have no fear, because Superman came to the rescue. Yes Leafs Nation, Superman exists. He's not from Krypton, he's not a mild mannered reporter, and he can't fly. He's from Alberta, he's a hockey player, and he can score. His name is Clarke MacArthur, and his two goals last night, give him four on the season, and propelled the Leafs to victory. Francois Beauchemin also scored. For a team that many "experts" claimed would have trouble getting secondary scoring, it's interesting to note that all of the scoring last night came from the second and fourth line. The other catalyst for the third consecutive win was goaltending. It would be fitting, at least for one game to change Jonas Gustavsson's nickname from "the monster" to "Batman", because he certainly snuffed out he Penguins criminal plans to halt our winning ways. Especially the cross crease pad save in the second, as well as the entirety of the third period. The Toronto Maple Leafs will now face off against the NHL equivalent of a hemorrhoid, Sean Avery, when they play the New York Rangers on Friday night.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
This can't be real, can it? The Toronto Maple Leafs are perfect to start the regular season, after winning their second straight game, this time against the Ottawa Senators. This feels like I'm either living inside a dream, like the movie Inception, or I'm living in an alternate universe, as seen on the television series Fringe. Either way, I'm staying asleep, or permanently moving to this alternate earth. The Blue & White didn't simply beat their provincial rivals, they slaughtered them. In what seems to be a new trend, the Leafs scored two quick goals, jumping out to an early lead. Nikolai Kulemin was the beneficiary of some great fore checking by Mikhail Grabovski, and Clarke MacArthur, and just squeaked a goal past the opposing goal line. Phil Kessel pounced on a rebound of a Kris Versteeg shot, to bank his second goal of the season. To keep the trend of two's going, Clarke (Superman) MacArthur scored his second goal of the season, adding to the lead. Great puck movement on the power play finally paid off, as Tomas Kaberle pounded a shot towards the net that Versteeg deflected, for his first goal as a Maple Leaf. Persistence and video review gave Tim Brent his second goal of this young season. Ottawa capitalized on a lucky bounce to put the final score at 5 - 1. To put it simply, the Maple Leafs dominated this game. They out shot the Sens 38 - 18, and made use of their special teams. In the first 2 games, the team has gotten scoring production from its top three lines, been perfect on the penalty kill, played solid on defense, and have benefited from great goal tending. Sure, it's early, but the team is sitting in first place in the National Hockey League standings. Leafs Nation should be happy and relish in this dream like start, for however long it lasts. The Leafs will look to channel their inner Batman as they look to thwart the dastardly Penguins on Wednesday night.
Friday, October 8, 2010
In what felt like deja vu, Tyler Bozak sent Phil Kessel in on a breakaway where Kessel managed to just get the puck to cross the line, to give the Leafs a two goal advantage. Montreal cut the lead in half and the scoreline remained 2 - 1 heading into the final frame. Early in the third, new Leaf Clarke MacArthur scored a beautiful goal on the backhand, thanks to the skill full work of teammate Nikolai Kulemin. While the Leafs power play did not produce, and they committed far too many turnovers, the Leafs perfect penalty killing and superb goal tending secured two points on opening night. To quote Will Smith, J.S was "getting Giggy with it" all night long, stopping 26 shots, two of which were close range pad saves in the dieing seconds of the third period. On a side note, all Walmart stores in the province of Quebec have implemented their classic Roll Back campaign, in an effort to reduce Carey Price's goals against average. However, if that fails Fisher Price has offered the Montreal goaltender a job as their celebrity spokesperson. The company feels he is perfect for the job, as he will provide them more brand recognition, because Price is constantly fishing the puck out of his net. The Toronto Maple Leafs will look to continue building momentum when they face the Ottawa Senators, in the battle of Ontario on Saturday night.
Sunday, October 3, 2010
The Toronto Maple Leafs ended their pre -season against the Detroit Red Wings in a home and home affair. Friday, the Leafs played poorly, with the exception of the top line. A largely full NHL lineup for the Red Wings, was too powerful for the Maple Leafs penalty killing or young goaltender Jussi Rynnas, who was lit up in the 7 - 3 defeat. Kris Versteeg was a wizard with the puck, as he set up Kessel's goal on the power play, as well as combining with Phil Kessel to set up Tyler Bozak for a one-timer in the slot. On the Kessel power play goal, Versteeg took the puck on the half wall, circled the net and looked at all four other teammates before finding Phil Kessel. Not once in the whole sequence did Versteeg look at the puck, he had his head up the entire time. Mikhail Grabovski scored the third goal on a solo end to end rush, in an otherwise un-inspired effort by the rest of the team.
The scene shifted to the Air Canada Centre for the rematch. Detroit dressed mostly their AHL roster due to playing three games in as many nights, while the Leafs dressed what should be their opening night lineup, barring any unforeseen injuries. The usual suspects were key contributors for the Blue & White. Kessel had three assists, while Bozak and Versteeg both scored. Clarke MacArthur scored the Leafs first goal of the game, on a beautiful setup by Grabovski, while Tomas Kaberle added some insurance on the way to a 4 - 2 win. Ron Wilson tried a new strategy on the power play by having Kaberle and Kessel at the points while captain Dion Phaneuf was parked in front of the net, screening the opposing net minder. The strategy was more then effective as three of the teams four goals came way of the man advantage. The opening night roster is a few days from being officially announced, but I'd be shocked if it's drastically different from the team that took the ice Saturday night. The Toronto Maple Leafs finished the pre - season with a winning record of W- 5 L - 3 OT - 1, and will look to carry that winning momentum into the regular season, beginning Thursday October 7, 2010 at the Air Canada Centre, against our most hated rivals, the Montreal Canadiens.