Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News,
The Leafs are already in a playoff spot -- and with so many games in hand they're likely the second-best team in the Atlantic Division. The Sabres hit town off a solid win over Dallas but still last in the division.
Asking Babcock how surprised he was to have accelerated past the Sabres made him recoil after the morning skate.
"I never said that, you just said that right?" Babcock said. "Sometimes when you ask those questions then the next thing that comes out in the media is like I said that. Just so we know, I did not say that."
The room broke up because Babcock made sure to emphasize each of the last four words. He then proceeded to explain himself further.
"To tell you the truth, I don't spend a whole lot of time concerning myself on the other teams. We're building our own product here. We have a lot of work to do. I tried to say that yesterday. I told our players the same thing. We're 41 games in. Let's just try to get better every day. We do that, we have a chance to be a good team moving ahead. That's what we're trying to do."
Now obviously, the biggest thing in the Leafs favor is they tanked for half a season (Garrett Sparks in goal, anyone?) and were lucky enough to win the draft lottery to take Auston Matthews. The Sabres put together two of the worst seasons back-to-back in recent NHL history and didn't get the little ping pong ball bounce either time.
Jack Eichel is a terrific young player. But he's no Matthews. No shame in that. But it's the reality.
Rielly went to the room, came back to give it a go but his leg did not respond well. Back to the dressing room.
The Leafs actually chllenged the goal for interference, no dice.
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
The theory in radically reducing Henrik Lundqvist’s workload so the Rangers’ franchise goaltender would be fresher for the long haul of a deep playoff run is certainly sound.
But in practice, it is not working.
Because there was yet another goal (or two) the goaltender would have wanted back in Friday’s dispiriting 4-2 defeat to the Maple Leafs at the Garden that followed a simple, yet stirring tribute to the late NYPD Det. Steven McDonald that featured a ceremonial puck drop from his wife, Patti Ann, and son, Conor.
Because it was yet another game in which Lundqvist, who seemed off-balance throughout, had trouble with his reads. Another game in which a funny one went in reasonably early to put the Rangers in a hole.
Watch the game highlights below...
from Terry Koshan of the Toronto Sun,
Hands up if you figured the Maple Leafs would be in a playoff spot in the first week of January.
OK, put them down. We know you’re not telling the truth.
Yet that’s where the Leafs, 30th-place finishers last season, find themselves following a 4-2 victory against the New Jersey Devils on Friday night.
The win at the Prudential Center improved the Leafs’ record to 18-12-8, and their 44 points is tied with the Boston Bruins in the Atlantic Division. Because the Leafs have played three fewer games than the Bruins, they bump the Bruins and take over third place in the Atlantic.
“As a group we know what we are capable of and that has been the goal since the start of the year, to be in that mix, in that race for a playoff spot, and I think we have the talent to do so,” star rookie Auston Matthews said.
“We’re a fast, skilled, talented young group and we continue to get better.”
Catch the game highlights below...
Nice, teams better not leave him alone behind the net.
“I’ve been at this 21 years. As I’ve told you before, I’ve been on the other side of the ledger for a long time. And this is a lot of fun, being where we are now. Management, coaches, the kids, like I said, they are delivering what we want Toronto Maple Leafs hockey to be.
“We all know what the goal is — a Stanley Cup. And soon. Could you imagine?”
-Larry Tanenbaum, chairman of MLSE. Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun has much more from Tanenbaum on the Leafs.
from Curtis Rush of the New York Times,
It is a dark and rainy night when about a dozen members of the Conacher family descend the steps into Mike Wilson’s basement.
The Conachers are a legendary name in Canadian hockey, with bloodlines from the Hall of Fame to the modern N.H.L. But Wilson has his own piece of hockey fame: His 1,000-square-foot basement, in a stately three-story home in the Forest Hill neighborhood, houses what is believed to be the world’s largest collection of Toronto Maple Leafs artifacts.
Wilson, 62, could be considered hockey’s version of Barry Halper, who at one time had assembled the most acclaimed private collection of baseball memorabilia in the United States. In Wilson’s basement, one will find more than 2,000 pieces, including game-worn sweaters from as far back as the 1930s, but also photographs, pucks, sticks, contracts, documents and the original door to the dressing room at the old Maple Leaf Gardens, signed in blue ink by about 60 former Leafs.
continued with numerous pictures...
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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