Archive for August, 2012

Maple Leafs’ Playoff Hopes Hinge On Play At Home

August 14th, 2012 No Comments

When the 2011-12 NHL season rolled around expectations were high that the Maple Leafs would finally contend for a playoff spot. If you are a fan of the Blue and White things were going swimmingly up until February when, out of nowhere, the Buds blew a tire and just like that, blew any hopes of making the playoffs when they won four of 15 games. The Maple Leafs followed up a brutal February with an equally alarming March, earning five wins in 15 games. Combined the Leafs earned a miserable nine wins in 30 games, which killed any dreams fans may have had of their beloved team making the playoffs. While it is clear that the Maple Leafs’ struggles in February and March were very much to blame for their inability to make the playoffs, the stats show that it

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Is Jake Gardiner A Star Or Flash In The Pan?

August 13th, 2012 5 Comments

Originally drafted in the first round (17th overall) of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft by the Anaheim Ducks, Jake Gardiner was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Francois Beauchemin deal. To say Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke fleeced Ducks general manager Bob Murray would be an understatement, at least when you consider Gardiner’s strong showing in his first NHL season. Through 75 games with the Blue and White Gardiner established himself as a reliable offensive defenseman, scoring seven goals (one on the power play) and 23 assists for a total of 30 points. Gardiner’s seven goals ranked him 40th amongst NHL defensemen, while his 30 points ranked him a very respectable 42nd overall. Gardiner also managed a minus-2 rating while boasting a very clean 18 penalty minutes. Anytime a young player makes a splash at the

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Should The Maple Leafs Go After Steve Mason?

August 11th, 2012 No Comments

As the fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs know all too well goaltending can make or break your season. Gone are the days when the Blue and White had Eddie Belfour and before him Curtis Joseph to bail them out of trouble and with question marks surrounding the Buds goaltending for the upcoming Season (CBA agreement aside) there is every reason to believe that the Maple Leafs will struggle mightily between the pipes. Two seasons ago James Reimer burst onto the NHL scene from obscurity registering a very respectable 20-10-5 record in his rookie year. But like many sophomore goaltenders Reimer struggled last season for a variety of reasons, including what was first thought to be a concussion later revealed to be a neck injury. While injuries took their toll on Reimer’s performance there looked to be a clear erosion

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Does Matthew Lombardi Have Anything Left?

August 10th, 2012 1 Comment

When Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke acquired forward Matthew Lombardi and defenseman Cody Franson from the Nashville Predators in return for defenseman Brett Lebda and prospect Robert Slaney the jewel of Burke’s eye was Franson with Lombardi being more of a throw-in. At the time of the deal Lombardi had just come off a terrible concussion which saw him miss the lions share of the 2010-11 season. With Lombadri’s future in doubt, Predators general manager David Poile felt Lombardi was expendable and was probably pretty stoked Burke was willing to take him off of his hands. Lombardi’s lost season derailed any momentum he may have had when he set a career high in points with 53 which earned him first-line minutes with the Phoenix Coyotes. Known for his excellent skating, speed and penalty killing abilities, Lombardi was supposed

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What The Maple Leafs Lineup Will Look Like In 2012-13

August 9th, 2012 11 Comments

With the 2012-13 NHL season still weeks away we turn our thoughts to the Maple Leafs lineup. Unlike seasons past the competition for roster spots is bound to be furious, which means nothing is set in stone where the Maple Leafs’ roster is concerned. Up front the smart money suggests Joffrey Lupul and Phil Kessel will man the wings on the first line, while the battle to centre these two will be fierce. James van Riemsdyk and Mikhail Grabovski look to have the inside track on landing the first line minutes, while last years pivot Tyler Bozak is a long shot to get a repeat assignment. With Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle and general manager Brian Burke looking for JVR to step up and grab the first line centre assignment there is a good chance he will be

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Will Phil Kessel Leave Toronto?

August 8th, 2012 7 Comments

Forever shackled to the trade that brought him to the Toronto Maple Leafs from the Boston Bruins organization for two first round draft choices (which became Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton) and a second rounder (which became Jared Knight), Phil Kessel’s life in Toronto hasn’t been easy. Since arriving in Toronto Kessel has been under a tremendous amount of scrutiny from both the media and fans. A quiet, unassuming player, Kessel has tried to remain in the shadows, but in the media frenzy that is Toronto it has been tough for him to remain anonymous. As tough as it has been for Kessel to avoid the media attention he receives, it has been even tougher for him to live up to expectations. While the pressure to perform is with every NHL player, Kessel (fairly or unfairly) will forever be judged

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