Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun,
Wilson isn’t issuing a bold prediction to order tickets for April to beat the rush, but if the Leafs can overcome some Northeast Division demons this week and continue a string of home success, the Eastern Conference standings will start to speak for itself.
From an 0-7-1 start and national scorn, the Leafs began last night just four points back of a post-season berth as they began their final 50 games of the NHL schedule.
“We’re getting close enough to that eighth-place line to realize where we’ve come from,” coach Wilson said before taking on the Senators. “We do want to make the playoffs this year and to take our foot off of the gas right now would not be a wise choice.”
from Damien Cox of The Spin,
So what now, now that Schenn has tumbled to the bottom of the Leafs blueline depth chart? As hard as it might be for all concerned, Schenn needs to go to the AHL to begin to serve the apprenticeship he should have served before he played his first NHL game. It might take the rest of this season. Maybe next year as well. That’s what the minors are there for. What is it about this Leaf organization that forever makes it treat the farm like a punishment or a form of menial labour rather than a useful development tool?
from Ted Leonsis of Ted’s Take,
Maybe we were tired. Maybe we were rattled with the change in routine. Maybe our defense broke down. Maybe our young goaltender had a truly sub par performance. Maybe their goaltender stole a game after a shaky start.
Maybe all teams in the NHL are good to very good and they just beat us - at home - after we played back to back. It is a big game for the other side, Hockey Night in Canada and all. I think we lead the NHL now in Saturday night games on Hockey Night in Canada now. Everyone gets up for us. We have no easy games to play any more.
They won. We lost. We get no points.
a bit more...
from Terry Koshan of the Toronto Sun,
Alexander Ovechkin, who leads the Caps into the Air Canada Centre tonight, has been coming under fire recently for his at-times careless play—an approach that found the talented Russian suspended for two games last week when he hit Carolina Hurricanes defenceman Tim Gleason knee-on-knee. Wilson, however, loves Ovechkin’s style.
“He plays hard and reckless,” the coach said. “He has done a few things. He slew-foots people, stuck his knee out on a bunch of people, so there is a body of evidence that indicates he does play reckless. But that is what makes him a great hockey player.
“He is fearless. I think it’s great he plays the game hard at both ends. He is physical and he is incredibly gifted offensively. I would say he is easily the most dominant player in our game.”
from Michael Traikos of the National Post,
Of course, a lot has changed in the last three weeks, where the Leafs have picked up 14 of a possible 20 points. So much so that general manager Brian Burke, whose self-imposed holiday trade freeze begins Wednesday, is having difficulty deciding what to do with the team’s many soon-to-be free agents.
Does he shop them around for draft picks? Does he try to sign them to new contracts? Or does he simply allow their current deals to expire?
“Obviously, the answer I give you Wednesday is different than after our 0-8 start,” said Burke. “So we’re in the process of finishing that evaluation, which of those guys we would like to extend and which we are going to cut loose at the deadline. And then the second thing will be what is a reasonable price for extending a certain player. If the price tag is not reasonable, then we’ll unload him at the deadline.”
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
Thanks to The Gap, life is better these days for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
No, they have not landed new wardrobes thanks to a sponsorship deal with the clothing retailer, but they have, as Columbus Blue Jackets head coach Ken Hitchcock pointed out about the Leafs last week, “found the right balance between offence and defence.” To mix coaching and transit metaphors, that is known as minding the gap.
Hockey coaches love to go on about the gap – the distance between the forwards and the defencemen. Keep the gap at the right distance at both ends of the ice, coaches say, and keep the distance constant as you move up and down the ice, and success will follow.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Good thing for Phil Kessel that Boston sports fans don’t hold a grudge. Just ask Bill Buckner. Or Roger Clemens. Or Johnny Damon.
That Kessel will be booed Saturday night when the Toronto Maple Leafs visit the Bruins is a fait accompli. The question is, how many years will fans view him as Public Enemy No. 1.
His exit from Boston was a fascinating one, to be sure.
There have been different tales spun from different camps. No matter whom you believe, it’s hard to know for sure exactly what happened.
For example, one side will insist Kessel essentially asked for a trade during the summer, something the kid himself denied upon his arrival in Toronto. His agent, Wade Arnott of Newport Sports, also said a trade was never demanded.
via the Twitter of Bob McKenzie,
Toronto trades Jiri Tlusty to Carolina. Details to follow.
update 3:31pm, Bob has updated his Twitter,
Tlusty to Carolina.- 2009 first rounder Philippe Paradis to Toronto.
added 3:45pm, via TSN,
The Toronto Maple Leafs have shipped forward Jiri Tlusty to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for forward Philippe Paradis.
A former first round pick (13th overall) of the Maple Leafs, Tlusty has eight goals and seven assists in 19 games with the AHL Marlies. He skated in two games with the Maple Leafs in late October, recording zero points and a minus- 2 rating.
Paradis, 18, was the Hurricanes’ first round draft pick (27th overall) in 2009.
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
Jonas Gustavsson will be lost to the Toronto Maple Leafs for at least a week because he requires a second surgical procedure in an attempt to fix a heart problem.
The rookie goaltender will undergo the procedure on Friday after experiencing a second episode of an elevated heart rate while playing hockey. Gustavsson, 25, had to leave Tuesday’s game against the Montreal Canadiens after the first period when his heart started racing.
from Paul Hunter of the Toronto Star,
The team, retooled by Burke over the summer, had won only six of its first 25 games before facing Montreal.
“I’m a great fan like all of our other millions of fans are and we want to see a winning team but we also have patience,” said Tanenbaum, adding that he is “110 per cent” behind Burke’s rebuilding efforts.
“I’m patient but anxiously awaiting a Stanley Cup here one day.”
Richard Peddie, president and CEO of MLSE, said Burke and his front office team would have as much time as needed to get the team back on track. Burke has been on the job for just over a year.
“I have complete faith in Brian and (assistant) David Nonis and (coach) Ron Wilson that they’re going to turn this around. We’re all disappointed in where we’re at today. But we knew the fixing job was not an easy one,” said Peddie.
“He’s the last general manager I’m hiring. He’s safe in my tenure that’s for sure.”
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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