Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Leafs 2 Devils 1

One of the great things about having the NHL Center Ice package is that you never have to sit through a commercial or an intermission again.

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

Rumour du Jour

By The Meatriarchy

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, Jerome Ig.. Igin... Ign.. or Jaromir Jagr; Andropov AND a player to be named later.

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

The Kovalev Factor

Always figured there was a reason the folks at Habsblog were so obsessed with this guy's impact [see their sidebar].

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.

Isles 6 Leafs 9

By The Meatriarchy

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

How big is tonight's game for the Leafs?

The Islanders play the Leafs tonight - the loser will be in 9th place.

Pot, meet Kettle...

By The Meatriarchy

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

Sens 8 Leafs 2

The Meatriarchy

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

Anomaly? We'll See...

From the Globe:

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]


Via TSN's Jay Onrait [is Jay a classic sportscaster name or what?]:

"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

Ottawa lost tonight. Know why?

So we'll be right pissed come Saturday night.

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


To avoid excessive sentimentality over the fate of Patrick Lalime, I urge my fellow Sens fans to relive the horror of Game 7 archived here. Take a moment to once again savour the crushing roar of the ACC and the ecstatic yelps of joy from Bob Cole in order to remind yourself why we engaged the services of a clutch goaltender this off season.

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.

Leafs 3 Ducks 2

Posted by The Meatriarchy

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

Taken Down a Notch or Two

Time to revise those power rankings, folks.

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

NHL Countdown

Last night, one of the Sportsnet guys noted the run-up to this Friday's Canucks-Senators match had a distinctly NFL flavour to it. Plenty of hype, analysis and anticipation over the course of a week layoff (Sens would have had the full week clear if not for the rescheduling of the Florida game from October).

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.

Kings 2 Leafs 1

By The Meatriarchy

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.

Sound familiar?

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

Sens Tame Panthers

Pretty good post title, eh?

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.

Game Day: Domi vs Avery?

By The Meatriarchy

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

Battling for the Bronze?

My two favourite passions fusing.....

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.

You might be interested in this...

Ray: You said fuck.
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.

The question everyone is asking

Are the 2005-06 Senators the best team ever?

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Sharks 5 Leafs 4

By The Meatriarchy

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

Leafs 4 Atlanta 0

By The Meatriarchy

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

Fire Murray, Trade Alfredsson

TSN : nhl - Canada's Sports Leader

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.

The Blockbuster

My thoughts on the Thornton trade and a sampling of reaction from various blogs can be found here.