Kukla's Korner Hockey
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
With apologies to Buffalo Springfield, the last few weeks showed when it comes to the Toronto Maple Leafs there’s something happening here.
What it is may not be exactly clear, given the rebuilding touches that still need to be done and the youth of the team, but this is definitely a team that is starting to open some eyes around the NHL.
The young, speedy, hard-working Leafs (and when’s the last time you could use all that in an adjectival phrase about them) gave the defending Stanley Cup champions fits on Sunday before falling in a shootout. It broke a seven-game streak of overtime wins and afterward the Pittsburgh Penguins paid tribute to a team that should be in the playoffs next season.
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
The mountain, it appears, just won’t be that high to climb.
The very manageable peak in question, at least from the point of view of the Maple Leafs, is that which needs to be scaled in order to get back to NHL post-season play.
To make the hike, Brian Burke and Ron Wilson apparently need not make their club very good, or even good.
Based on the quality of teams that will make the Stanley Cup playoffs out of the Eastern Conference, the Leafs will have only to improve from lousy to mediocre next season to find themselves in the thick of the hunt.
May be considered vulgar.
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
Almost two months into the Phaneuf era, one that seems almost certain to continue with the 24-year-old being named captain next fall, it’s fair to say the Leafs would make the deal again any day, and twice on Sundays.
Phaneuf hasn’t been a spectacular success, and still is looking for his first goal. The Leafs are 10-7-1 with him. The Flames are 10-8-1 without him, a stat that suggests neither club has benefited more than the other from the swap so far.
That said, it’s hard to find a hockey person who thinks this was anything but a peculiar, one-sided deal. You could argue that the Leafs haven’t missed and won’t miss any of the four players sent to the Flames – Ian White, Matt Stajan, Jamal Mayers and Niklas Hagman – while Phaneuf has been a godsend, a blue-line stud who has played more than 25 minutes in each of the club’s last nine games.
from Greatest Hockey Legends,
The Leafs were hosting “King Clancy Night.” Clancy was as big a star as Toronto has ever seen. They honored him with the night, the jersey, and a number of stereotypical gifts that would keep any Irish eyes smiling.
Several junior players stepped on to the ice through large potato props. Red Horner emerged from a boxing glove. New York Ranger’s star Bill Cook hid in a shamrock. All the while the Knights of Columbus Minstrel Band played Irish music.
But the highlight of the night was when Clancy was introduced to the sold out arena. There has never been anything quite like it in sports before or since.
from Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun,
Wayne Primeau can almost feel his gut still churning when he thinks about the Maple Leafs horrifying plane ride from Toronto to the New York area in the wee hours of Sunday morning.
“It was one of the scariest flights I’ve ever had, for sure,” Primeau said Monday, still shaking his head in disbelief.
“The turbulence we experienced for about two minutes was unbelievable ... At one point, I was thinking about my family and kids. I was hanging on for dear life.”
from Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun,
When Viktor Stalberg first started taking on the superstars of the NHL, it was an easy game.
He would fly down the wing or cut to the inside. Shoot high, shoot low and generally be a dominant force in every game he played.
And then he turned off the video game.
When the self-confessed gaming junkie — “I play ever(y) day,” he said Friday — tried that act on the ice against the best professionals in the world, suddenly it wasn’t so simple.
“There’s no question I was (intimidated) at first,” Stalberg said at the MasterCard Centre following the first two-goal game of his career the previous night. “Most of the guys I was playing against in video games for the last four years then you go out there and you are a little star struck. I was like ‘Wow, I’m playing against these guys and have to snap out of it.’ ”
from Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun,
When Matt Carkner saw Colton Orr flash triple fingers to the Scotiabank crowd, he knew his Maple Leafs pugilist partner wasn’t signifying three wins for Toronto over the Senators in the Battle of Ontario.
Orr was trying to claim the victory in the third of four fights in as many games between them, though Carkner took exception to the signal as showboating.
“He was probably celebrating because he had three shifts in the game or something,” Carkner retorted.
continued and watch the fight below…
Elliotte Friedman of HNIC interviews Brian Burke and discusses both Team USA and the Toronto Maple Leafs.
from Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star,
If there is a likely captain out of the group that wear A, it could well be Phaneuf. At 24, he’s closer in age to the players he leads. Kaberle is 32, Beauchemin 29 and Komisarek 28.
The core of players around whom this team is being built is much younger. Phil Kessel is 22. Luke Schenn is 20. Tyler Bozak will be 24 later this month. Viktor Stalberg is 24. Carl Gunnarsson and Nikolai Kulemin are 23. Luca Caputi is 21.
“We’ve got a young energetic group that works hard shift-in, shift-out,” said Phaneuf. “It’s a fun group to be around. A very upbeat group; a young group.”
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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