Kukla's Korner Hockey
via Terry Koshan of the Toronto Sun,
Could some members of the Maple Leafs be fitted for a new jacket of the blue variety?
The Columbus Blue Jackets have had scouts shadowing several teams lately, and had two at the game Thursday night at the Air Canada Centre between the Leafs and Buffalo Sabres.
Nik Antropov and defenceman Pavel Kubina are said to interest Jackets general manager Scott Howson. And you have to figure Leafs GM Brian Burke, now just over a month on the job, is dying to make a deal. Burke apparently has told the Jackets that he gladly will move players with contracts to get draft picks in return.
Columbus also has a big interest in New York Islanders centre Doug Weight, who said last week he does not want to be a rental again.
from Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star,
In any case, it was a little bit of retro Leafs feeling in the building, with 19,000 fans chanting “Cu-Jo, Cu-Jo” in the second period as he withstood a barrage of Thrasher shots on back-to-back power plays, preserving a 2-2 tie. He was named the game’s first star and when he skated on to the ice, the love-in started up again.
“You block out the negative stuff, but you hear the good stuff,” Joseph said. “It’s a great feeling. They want you to do well for sure. This is my dream job and sometimes you don’t realize it till you’re gone.”
It’s funny he should say that. Was last night the beginning of an unofficial and brief farewell tour – without the parting gifts – for the popular 41-year-old?
Think about the unusual Leafs decision to start Joseph at all in the midst of a three-game losing skid and then announce in advance that he would also start versus the Sabres. It was a head-scratcher for many.
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
Matt Stajan spent Sunday in a hospital with an eye injury and he will be lost to the Toronto Maple Leafs for at least a week as the result of a rowdy soccer game.
Stajan, the Leafs’ No. 1 centre, was hit on the eye with a soccer ball before the Leafs’ practice on Saturday during a warmup exercise common to NHL teams. Players gather in a circle and try to keep the ball in the air as long as possible by kicking or heading it. If a player allows the ball to hit the floor he is out of the game and the game ends when no players are left.
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
It’s a derby in which the Maple Leafs, not yet bad enough to get better, must have a horse.
Brian Burke knows it, Dave Nonis knows it and even Ron Wilson, you have to believe, knows it.
John Tavares’ special performance on a big stage for Team Canada in the opening game of the world junior championship in Ottawa on Friday night was just the latest piece of compelling evidence that made it clear the Leafs need to be at least in a position to win the draft lottery and land the No. 1 overall pick next June.
from Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star,
According to the coach, goalie Vesa Toskala played well, despite being yanked and booed off the ice after allowing his seventh goal midway through the second period.
“He didn’t have a chance on any of those goals,” Wilson said to a stunned media at his post-game briefing. “I don’t think it was fair that the fans got on him if that was their intention. Shot, rebound, shot, rebound and then someone puts it in the empty net. It certainly wasn’t Vesa’s fault, at all.”
Hmm. Wilson reiterated his feelings that the schedule-makers pretty much set the stage for his squad’s horrible contra-performance last night, as if nobody else had ever played back-to-back games within the same time zone in the history of the league. And yes, the goaltender had been sent home from Atlanta on Sunday to nurse his slightly pulled groin back to health – and rest up.
“It was more fatigue than anything,” Wilson argued. “We didn’t have our legs. We didn’t have our minds. Unfortunately it got ugly. It’s already behind me.”
from Tim Wharnsby of the Globe and Mail,
Twenty-two-year-old netminder Justin Pogge is expected to make his NHL debut for the Toronto Maple Leafs against the Atlanta Thrashers on Monday.
The Leafs will promote the young prospect from the Toronto Marlies of the AHL after No. 1 goalie Vesa Toskala suffered a groin injury in the second period of Toronto’s impressive 7-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday evening….
“We’re concerned with our goaltending issue on two levels,” Burke said from California before the game. “We need to take care of the health of our goaltender’s health and stability over an 82-game schedule and we need to get a look at this kid.
“[Pogge] hasn’t been dominant at the AHL level, but we need to see what we have with him.”
from Mark Zwolinski of the Toronto Star,
When asked yesterday if he was about to scrap his goalie plans – especially after their struggles in Thursday’s 8-5 loss to Boston – Leafs coach Ron Wilson simply shook his head.
“No, not at all,” Wilson said as the Leafs picked themselves up and prepared for another offensive onslaught in the form of the Penguins, whom they face tonight.
Certainly, the Leafs need more from their current goalie tandem, but subpar stats from the pair won’t hasten the arrival of Justin Pogge, who will be summoned from the Marlies for a serious look in the NHL.
Pogge’s showcase could happen anytime after Christmas or early in the new year, but the Leafs have mapped out his call-up and haven’t based it on the performances they’ve received so far from Toskala and Joseph.
For now, the Leafs appear married to their plan to give Pogge 60-plus starts for the Marlies.
“I would have flown around the globe to be there last night. I was extremely disappointed to have been excluded.”
-Brian Burke speaking about the Trevor Linden ceremony last night. A little more at the Vancouver Sun.
from Steve Buffery of the Toronto Sun,
New Jersey Devils goaltender and former Maple Leafs farmhand Scott Clemmensen will be having nightmares of Jason Blake for some time to come.
Blake pulled off one of the most spectacular moves in recent shootout history to score on Clemmensen last night at the Air Canada Centre and give the Leafs a 3-2 victory.
Toronto’s fourth shooter, Blake charged in on Clemmensen, slammed on the brakes in front of the net, did the old Savardian spin-o-rama, and then backhanded a shot past the bewildered Jersey goaltender.
“He was either going to be a hero or a bum, because anything can happen (with that move),” Toronto coach Ron Wilson said afterwards. “But I think it took a lot of guts to try that.”
from Damien Cox at The Spin,
Although he’s been getting solid reviews for his coaching work this season with the severely undertalented Maple Leafs, Wilson has to be feeling the extraordinary success of the San Jose Sharks.
On one hand, many of the players that have powered the Sharks to the best record ever in the NHL history after 30 games were not only coached by Wilson and his assistants, Tim Hunter and Rob Zettler, but taught their first NHL lessons by that crew.
Wilson still has ties to that organization, still talks to Sharks players, still discusses hockey matters from time-to-time with GM Doug Wilson. On the other hand, of course, the way in which rookie coach Todd MacLellan has guided the Sharks to such a powerhouse, 52-point showing so far is, to some degree, an indictment of that which Wilson couldn’t do.
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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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