Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
The Blackhawks are a Western Conference contender. The Leafs, after a blip of promise last weekend against Carolina and Detroit, descended once more into maddening mediocrity Tuesday in a loss to lowly Minnesota.
Whereas not so long ago Chicago could be mocked as a historic franchise that had lost its way, today it’s the Leafs that can only report excellence in the Forbes standings, not the NHL’s. The Windy City has already been lauded for hosting a superb Winter Classic, while Brian Burke’s promises of doing something similar at BMO Field – no Wrigley, to be sure – ring somewhat hollow.
Nobody would have thought five years ago the Leafs would be sucking the exhaust fumes of the Hawks, but that’s where we are.
One franchise stood still, the other caught the gusts of a new NHL.
from Jeff Blair of the Globe and Mail,
The first thing Ron Wilson wants to do Friday night at the United Center is “pull the plug on the organ,” then get rid of the national anthem singer. Failing that, Wilson would settle for having Luke Schenn plugged in.
Schenn was Wilson’s fair-haired boy last season. That’s not the case any more. In a published report Thursday, the Toronto Maple Leafs head coach was blunt about what awaits Schenn if he doesn’t truck out some truculence.
“Hopefully, it doesn’t come to him sitting out games to get a message across,” Wilson intoned.
Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Mike Komisarek will miss the next three weeks with a pulled quadricep muscle.
from Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun,
Have the Leafs gone soft all of a sudden?
“Any time you make it hard for the other team and make them not want to play you and be apprehensive every time they go into the corner, that’s the mentality you want to have,” Leafs defenceman Garnet Exelby said yesterday. “You want to (have teams) come to Toronto and hate playing here.
“We want that reputation spreading around the league.”
If any future opponent takes a good look at the game tape from Tuesday night, that reputation will be somewhat less daunting.
The Leafs lost countless battles for the puck and were far from the physical team that was promised and had delivered in the first handful of games this season.
The lack of physicality helped create a dreadful atmosphere at the Air Canada Centre, where fans were lulled into a comatose state by the pacificist effort.
from Jeff Blair of the Globe and Mail,
I have no problem with the fact the Toronto Maple Leafs want to play host to the NHL All-Star Game, as much of a fraudulent cash grab disguised as an afternoon skate as it is anyhow. But, honestly: by what stretch does BMO Field deserve to be the site of the annual outdoor game, an event that has had a surprising shelf life and if nothing else seems to be about the only time during the year anybody in the U.S. watches the game? Putting the game in as non-descript a facility as BMO Field would cheapen the event – although I’m sure that’s the only way the word “cheap” would be associated with it, since the mind boggles at how much Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment will charge for the game.
from Randy Youngman of the OC Register,
Is Ducks goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere on his way out of town?
If so, all signs point toward Toronto.
The rumors that were rampant in the offseason and then dissipated in training camp have resumed in earnest….
Giguere (0-2, 3.65, .895) is winless in four games this season and currently is recovering from a strained groin muscle. Giguere, 32, makes $6 million this season and $7 million next season, so the Ducks obviously don’t want to pay that much to a backup.
Jiggy has a no-trade clause in his contract, but the word is that he would waive it to go to Toronto, where he would be reunited with General Manager Brian Burke and longtime goalie coach Francois Allaire. He also would have a chance to play more regularly.
from Damian Cox of the Toronto Star,
Was it the Maple Leafs, suddenly a very competent looking hockey club after two straight victories?
Or was it the Detroit Red Wings, or at least the current injury-riddled, talent-depleted version of the squad that went to the Stanley Cup final the past two springs but was steamrolled 5-1 by the Leafs last night?
Hard to say. But let’s start with this. When the Leafs were being trampled with Joey MacDonald in net and with Phil Kessel’s presence still a distant dream, it was suggested that it would be impossible to evaluate the Toronto team and individual players until top-flight goaltending was supplied by somebody, and that it was a little early to describe the Kessel-for-two-first-rounders deal as a disaster until he at least played a game.
Today, the Leafs, after beating awful Carolina and the Wings on back-to-back nights, look like a club that at least has a chance to vie for a playoff berth.
from Joe O’Conner of the National Post,
For about six years now, Jonas Gustavsson has been skinny. Not slender, just skinny. His legs are skinny. His waist and chest are skinny. And even his face is skinny. Dress him in a skinny black tie and a skinny black suit and Gustavsson would not look out of place in a jazz club full of New York hipsters, circa 1955.
“It doesn’t matter how much I eat or how much I practise—I get stronger, but I just can’t get any bigger,” says the Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender who begins each day with bacon and eggs, toast and an assortment of fruit, and ends it with a bedtime snack. “Everything I eat, I burn away. But I think this is the right way for me.”
from Jim Hughson of CBC,
After last Saturday’s 3-1 win in Calgary, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said, “For the first time all year we were a five-man unit, we made some nice plays. It was impressive. We looked like a hockey team.”
That served as an ominous warning to the league that, despite a slow start, reports of the Wings demise are rather premature.
The Wings returned home and dispatched the Bruins 2-0 then beat San Jose 2-1 in a game they deserved to win before the shootout. They’ve won three in a row and four of five.
So what’s got the winged wheel rolling straight again?
continued and a look at the HNIC matchup tomorrow between the Leafs and Wings.
from Paul Hunter of the Toronto Star,
Tonight, the Leafs and Hurricanes, boasting two of the league’s worst offences, will clash in a battle for the basement in the NHL and Carolina coach Paul Maurice thinks he knows what will happen.
“(It will be) 9-8, that’s the prediction,” he said with a smirk. “They’re going to try and manufacture goals, just like we will.”
Ron Wilson, his Toronto counterpart, was incredulous.
“If he wants to give up eight or nine goals, we’ll take that right now,” said Wilson. “He hasn’t watched us play much if he thinks we’re capable right now of scoring eight or nine goals.”
There is a sense among the Leafs, both the players and management, that they are heading in the right direction with points in five consecutive games.
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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