Coming off a 2-0 win against the Montreal Canadiens in their season opener, the Toronto Maple Leafs found themselves in a dogfight with the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night, eventually emerging with a 6-5 victory. The Sens beat sophomore goaltender James Reimer five times in the third period, giving the Maple Leafs a scare and bringing Reimer—who had been flawless through five periods—back to reality. Phil Kessel showed his value, scoring three goals and looking very much like an all-star at both ends of the ice. Kessel now leads the Maple Leafs in scoring through two games, lighting the lamp three times and adding two helpers for a total of five points. Captain Dion Phaneuf absolutely crushed Senators rookie Stephane Da Costa at the Blueline, serving notice to all that he is still very capable of laying out a player
With the pre-season officially in the books, the regular season is just hours away from commencing, giving Canada back it’s favorite drug- Hockey! For some NHL teams the playoffs looks to be all but a sure thing, including the likes of the Detroit Red Wings, Vancouver Canucks, San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference, followed by the Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference. For others, a playoff birth will be hard fought, if not impossible, which will likely cause many Canadians to hit the pharmacy or the local liquor store on more than a few occasions! For Canadian hockey fans there is plenty to be excited about. The Winnipeg Jets are officially back, while the Toronto Maple Leafs looked poised to make the jump to the playoffs…or not!
Heading into training camp it was expected that the biggest battle for playing time would be up front, while on the back end, the top six defensemen had all but been decided. A strong training camp and injuries to a few keys forwards (mainly Tim Connolly and Nazem Kadri) have led to rookie forward Matt Frattin making the opening day roster while, in what many perceive as a surprise, Keith Aulie (who played very well last season but not so great in training camp) was sent down to the Toronto Maple Leafs’ AHL affiliate (Toronto Marlies) in favor of keeping Jake Gardiner, who had an impressive training camp as well. Given the way Gardiner played in training camp nobody is all that shocked that he managed to make the club, but the demotion of Aulie is a bit of a
Just when everything seemed to be looking up for the Toronto Maple Leafs three injuries have conspired to put a damper on what has been a very good training camp for many players. Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke’s prized off-season signing Tim Connolly was out of the lineup earlier this week after crashing into the boards at Monday’s practice, fellow centre Tyler Bozak is also said to be nursing some injuries and now sophomore forward Nazem Kadri looks to have injured his knee during the third period of the Maple Leafs tilt against the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night. Kadri, 20, was centering Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul (Toronto’s first line wingers) when the injury took place, an opportunity he got due to the Connolly injury. While the injury to Connolly is considered to be mostly a precautionary measure and
When Brian Burke took over at the helm as the Toronto Maple Leafs general manager he promised a number of things. First, he promised that the cottage-like environment would be made a thing of the past by making sure the organizational depth was improved from top to bottom. Second, he promised to ice a much more physical team and third, he promised to turn the Maple Leafs into a perennial contender. Thus far, after three seasons of trades, tweaks and free agent signings, Burke has little in the way of success with which to measure his work, but there is hope that the Buds are on the right track. Under Burke’s watch the Maple Leafs have consistently iced one of the worst squads in all of hockey, finishing 24th in 2008-09, 29th in 2009-10 and 22nd in 2010-11. While the
We are only a few games into the 2011-12 NHL pre-season, but already there are a few youngsters that are starting to impress the Toronto Maple Leafs brass and fans. Forward Matt Frattin had two goals on Wednesday night against the Philadelphia Flyers, defenseman Jake Gardiner looks very close to being NHL ready, while big body goaltender Ben Scrivens hasn’t looked out of place. With a little seasoning at the AHL level with the Toronto Marlies it appears as if both Frattin and Gardiner will be with the big club at some point this season, while Scrivens may need a full season with the Marlies before he gets consideration with the big club. Gardiner’s smooth skating, hockey sense, ability to move the puck and uncanny calm and collected style of play have many fans and teammates throwing praise at the