Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Game Day Leafs at Tampa

by The Meatriarchy

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

Bring On The West, Already

It has indeed been a Tale of Two Leagues through the first quarter of the season. Who can say how much this incestuous inter-divisional play is contributing to a false sense of security on the part of certain clubs? So it is with great anticipation that the first week of December will kick off with a series of inter-conference matchups. Ottawa visits Vancouver on December 9th (why, yes that is the exact date of the annual office Christmas party, thanks!) and follows up with meetings in Calgary and Colorado within the next three days. Unfortunately, any Ottawa-Detroit matchup will have to wait until late next spring.

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?

Karma and the Three Point Weekend

By The Meatriarchy

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

Game Day: Leafs at Carolina 7:00 pm

By The Meatriarchy

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

A peak westward

A Battle of Alberta game tonight - a few jabs from Sacamano for your Friday enjoyment:
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:

Jay said...
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...

bing said...
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

Yuck! Bruins 5 Leafs 1

By The Meatriarchy

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

Hurricane downgraded to tropical storm.

Sens won 5 to 3 (empty netter included). Hockey Country, of course, has a great rundown on the game.

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."

Monday, November 21, 2005

Hurricane watch

Two games stick out in the Senators record so far. These two games are the only ones, including the preseason, where Ottawa failed to score 3 or more goals.

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

Leafs 5 Thrashers 1

By The Meatriarchy

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

Leafs 4 Bruins 1

By The Meatriarchy

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

Blueline banter

I thought this post here by Chris Selly was very good:
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.

No pizza for you.

One goal for the mighty Sens?
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.....

Hockey Country:
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.

Brief TEEVEE Rant

No idea what corporate / regulatory forces combine to produce appalling things like Sportsnet's Pacific lineup, but jeezis, if you're unwilling / unable to showcase the Southwest and Northeast division leaders (points per game-wise;) and the two most electric young lines in hockey on a dreary Tuesday night, surely you can find something more worthy of subjecting your West Coast viewers to than a rebroadcast of a Toronto-area phone-in show. Needless to say, transplanted Ontarians seeking to get their Fan590 fix could have in fact tuned in to the local radio station and enjoyed the same program minus the visuals (I am somewhat naively led to believe this is the crucial distinction between radio and television programming).

C'mon lads, at least go the ESPN2 route and drop some log rolling / bassmasters / spelling bees into the rotation.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Leafs 2 Rangers 1

By The Meatriarchy

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?

Rumour Du Jour

Via Hockey Leaks

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?

Strachan on the Allison rumours

If you didn't read it yet...
But as long as the GMs stay rational, the Leafs will be stuck with Allison, even though they're trying to unload him.

Game Day New York vs Toronto

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

Another Saturday night - another blowout

Ottawa has outscored their opponents on Saturday night games 30-2 so far this season.

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

Rumour du Jour

By The Meatriarchy
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


Read Mirlte's post:
Yes, Ottawa — the NHL's top team at the moment — could, barring injuries or other factors, 'load up' for the postseason.
Now there's a scary thought.

Ottawa 5, Boston 2

A couple of brief points regarding last nights game....

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.

Game Day: Buffalo

Despite the fact that they have lost 6 of their last 7 and are battling some key injuries don't expect this to be an easy game for Toronto.

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

Calder chances

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.

Catch up on the Coach

CBC finally has the Coach's Corner videos up here. I missed the first show - man I love how he pronounces Ponikarovsky.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

BoO in Ottawa

Our local sports talk station has their own little battle on the morning show - and it's moved onto the blogs of morning hosts Steve Warne (Sens) and Buzz (Leafs).

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.

Leafs 6 Capitals 4

By The Meatriarchy

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

The Quinn Card

Chris McMurty said on my last post way down the comment thread:
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.

What JFJ needs to do.

By The Meatriarchy

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

Two wins for Ontario but the reaction is slightly different

First off, Hasek had this to say about their 6-0 win last night:
"I knew this was a strong team when I signed here, but I'm surprised with how well we've played.
"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."
The Leafs actually held onto their third period lead last night and beat the defending champs.

That being said, winning one game isn't going to stop the hometown papers from printing things columns like the following:

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.

We shouldn't give Gross too much credit for his critical analyis - it's like shooting fish in a barrel.

Friday, November 04, 2005

After last nights games

Carolina 4 Toronto 3

Ok, this guy is the real deal. I want to see him at Turin centering a line that features this guy on the wing:

And that is coming from a Leafs fan.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Getting to know the Leafs - Matt Stajan

Vanouver Canunks Op Ed pointed this one out:
"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.

JFJ gets the last laugh - sorta

By The Meatriarchy
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 are preparing their mea culpas?

I wouldn't hold your breath on that one.

How you like dem apples

After scoring 8 goals against Toronto and 10 goals against Buffalo in less than a week the NHL scoring race has a distinct Bytown feel to it.

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

Shocking revelation

McMurty points us to the this:
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.

In case you missed it - the Sens won 8-0!

And not on the scoreboard:
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.
Voted winner: Brian McGrattan

Leafs 2 Panthers 1

By The Meatriarchy

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!