Kukla's Korner Hockey
From Pierre LeBrun at Sportsnet.ca,
Not since the spring of 1986 has every single NHL team in Canada made the playoffs in the same season. That’s right—22 freakin’ years.
The Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs, apparently putting rocket fuel in their cereal these days, seem determined to help end the streak.
With just under two weeks left in the regular season, the two Canadian clubs, written off by the hockey world long ago, are waging quite the campaign to get into the playoff dance against all odds.
Update 3:17pm ET: Eric Duhatschek at the Globe & Mail adds some more thoughts on the Oilers “Cinderella Story” as they race to make the playoffs.
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
Since Sundin was lost on March 15, the Leafs have a 3-1 record, which sets up this week’s home-and-home series against the Boston Bruins as the key to their NHL season. Since they are four points behind the eighth-place Bruins with six games to play, the Leafs have to win both games in regulation time to have any hope of making the playoffs. It is still the longest of long shots.
But it’s a shot, which is good enough for this group. They might even get Sundin back for tomorrow’s opener against the Bruins. Sundin plans to test his injured groin in practice today, and if the improvement he felt on the weekend continues, he might play.
Ask Maurice who is responsible for holding the team together in Sundin’s absence, and he says he can name just about everyone on the team. From goaltender Vesa Toskala, who made his 27th consecutive start to beat the Senators, to defenceman Pavel Kubina, who seems to have a hand in every winning goal lately, to young centres Matt Stajan and Alex Steen, who both have picked up the scoring slack.
A drive from the bottom of the circle…
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
For Maple Leaf head scout Dave Morrison, however, there’s a professional poignancy to that concept given the status he shares with the rest of the club’s management, coaching and scouting staff. Morrison’s job, come June, will be to correctly identify the teenage prospect most likely to brighten the team’s future in the NHL entry draft, all the while knowing a new boss will arrive in the next few months and possibly clean house.
“To say we as scouts haven’t talked about that would be a lie,” said Morrison. “But we can’t control that, and we’ve got a chance to do something special in this draft.”
Given those circumstances, you might think Morrison would be hoping for the Leafs to sink as low as possible in the standings by season’s end to maximize their chances to select one of the high-profile prospects.
From Tim Wharnsby at the Globe & Mail,
Along the hallway to the New York Islanders dressing room, there are nine plaques commemorating key people from the franchise’s Stanley Cup seasons. From left to right, the wall of fame reads: Bill Torrey, Al Arbour, Denis Potvin, Mike Bossy, Billy Smith, Bob Nystrom, Clark Gillies, Bryan Trottier and Bob Bourne — and this morning Jason Blake.
Somebody placed a 10th tribute this morning, a picture of Blake , the former Islander and current Toronto Maple Leafs forward. Under the picture, it read “40-goal scorer.”
“Yeah, I have my sources as to who did it, but I’m not going to say,” said Blake…
from the Toronto Sun,
Asked to describe the effect of his injury, just when his team was getting back into the playoff hunt, Sundin candidly replied: “Devastating.”
Does that sound like a guy on the verge of returning to the lineup? Not really. In fact, don’t be surprised if the parties involved are cautious and hold him out until at least Tuesday when the Leafs visit the New York Islanders in Uniondale.
With so much still up in the air, this much is certain: Coach Paul Maurice said the decision to play will be up to Sundin, and Sundin alone.
“Mats knows what is best for Mats,” Maurice said. “If there are still questions, sitting out one game is preferable to this thing turning into a three or four (game absence.).”
via the Globe and Mail,
Toronto Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin left the game with what a club spokesperson called a “muscle strain” with five minutes remaining in the first period of the Leafs game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday evening.
From the Canadian Press,
As if the dismal Toronto Maple Leafs haven’t been heaped with enough scorn by hockey fans, the struggling squad may also be to blame for the recent cancellation of several high-profile CBC shows including, ironically, the steamy night-time NHL soap “MVP.”
The producer of “MVP” says she was recently warned by CBC programming director Kirstine Layfield that if the Leafs failed to make the Stanley Cup playoffs this year, the public broadcaster’s arts and entertainment division would take a $10 million hit that would put some of the network’s much-heralded new shows at risk.
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
Hey, it’s like Jimmy Buffet sings in Margaritaville: Some people say there’s a woman to blame, but I know it’s my own damn fault.
If the Leafs want to know who is to blame for their predicament, stop crying about the referees and look in the mirror.
Every team has injuries. The best ones get the rest of the players to work hard to compensate, not play as if they forgot everything they were taught about the game.
Playoff teams are not outscored 68-46 in the first period and 78-65 in the third, as the Leafs have been this season.
from Risto Pakarinen at Hockey.com,
I would also want you to acknowledge that a great player can end up on a bad club, and nothing can save him. That winning the Stanley Cup is not the only yardstick against which players can be measured. That a player like Mats Sundin can play on a line with Scarecrow and Tin Man, and still have enough heart and brain for the three of them.
more on Sundin…
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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