Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Scott Burnside at ESPN,
The big center’s desire to finish out his career in Toronto is well known, and the team has made all the appropriate noises about keeping Sundin in the fold. But if the Leafs repeat their desultory performance of Thursday evening on Long Island and miss the playoffs for the second straight season, days of reckoning are at hand for many in the blue and white.
And unless the team is content to remain mired in mediocrity with little hope of getting better (aside from being hit with the lucky stick), severing ties with the amiable Swede provides one of the only real clear paths to improvement.
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
All the Maple Leafs had to do last night was beat a minor league goaltender named Wade Dubielewicz.
That’s all. That’s not too much to ask.
Only now, a Leafs win tomorrow night in what should have been—and still may be—the most anticipated Toronto-Montreal Canadiens game in 40 years could end up eliminating both Toronto and Montreal from the Stanley Cup playoffs.
And who would have envisioned that possible scenario as the race for eighth place goes down to the final weekend?
from David Stubbs at Habs Inside/Out,
Saturday’s Toronto forecast calls for cloudy skies, a high of 1 C, a 70-per-cent chance of flurries – and a 100-per-cent chance of monster TV ratings for CBC’s Hockey Night In Canada and RDS’s La Soirée du Hockey.
The Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs will meet Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Air Canada Centre to see who goes to the Eastern Conference playoffs and who goes golfing.
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail (Friday edition),
The Leafs were hopelessly inept offensively last night in losing 5-2 to the New York Islanders. All that saved them was the New York Rangers’ 3-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens, which kept the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference, held by the Canadiens, one point away.
But the Leafs cannot let the Canadiens gain a point in an overtime loss when they meet at the Air Canada Centre tomorrow night. The Canadiens hold all the advantages in the tiebreakers if the teams finish the season tied in points.
from the AP via Newsday,
The Islanders trail ninth-place Toronto by one point and eighth-place Montreal by two points. New York has two games remaining, while Montreal and Toronto face each other Saturday night in their finales.
from the Toronto Sun,
If it is true that the most dangerous animal is one that is wounded and cornered then the Maple Leafs should be a fearsome sight to behold the next couple days.
They’ve got the Islanders and Montreasl right where they want them. The rest of the NHL just doesn’t know it yet.
This team has more nicks, scratches and blemishes than a frat-house beer fridge. Parts keep falling off, the door is hanging by one hinge but somehow it keeps getting the job done.
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
Well, if the Leafs are to win their last two games and squeeze into the National Hockey League playoffs, they had better find it quickly.
It is killer instinct, something the Leafs have not shown a lot of lately, be it starting quickly to put a weaker opponent down by the end of the first period, or closing the deal in the third when they have a stronger one on the ropes.
Maurice, the Leafs’ head coach, argues that too much is made of this. Only the Detroit Red Wings, Nashville Predators or Buffalo Sabres have enough talent to say they have a killer instinct.
from Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette,
What could be more exciting than a winner-take-all showdown between the Canadiens and the archrival Toronto Maple Leafs for one of the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference?
While the Canadiens play tomorrow night against the Rangers in New York and the Leafs visit the Islanders, it appears that Saturday night’s game in Toronto will decide one of the final spots.
“It will be the most important game a lot of the players on this team have ever played,” said Koivu, who showed that he wasn’t brooding over being benched in the latter stages of Saturday’s 4-3 win over Buffalo.
“If you think of the rivalry between us and the Leafs with the game on national TV, you can’t ask for anything more.”
from the Toronto Sun,
There was blood oozing from Matt Stajan’s face and steam coming out of John Ferguson’s ears.
All thanks to Philadelphia Flyers forward Ben Eager.
A livid Ferguson needed all his composure to keep from publicly ripping referees Bill McCreary and Greg Kimmerly for allowing Eager’s head shot on Stajan late in the third period to go unpunished.
“At some point I’m just going to have to open my mouth and pay the (bleepin) fine,” the Maple Leafs general manager said, referring to the potential financial consequence of criticizing officials.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
The albums do not hint at Rick’s battles with mental illness, battles that have tested the family’s mettle and helped define the paths each family member has and will follow.
The images, static and one-dimensional, certainly cannot begin to suggest how one set of circumstances might have led to the other, and how they might continue to coexist long into the future.
“He’s probably been the best he’s been now,” Kyle Wellwood said of his father in a recent interview. “There were always times when he’d be doing good and he’d have a relapse or something would happen. The bad times are rare and don’t last too long, a couple of days.”
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
Yet Sundin has stayed cold. It’s possible the Leafs could yet qualify for post-season play if No. 13 remains that way.
Possible, but unlikely.
Bryan McCabe, meanwhile, was a horrific minus-5 last night, sparking unhappy memories of his nightmarish performances against Philadelphia the last time the Leafs were in the Stanley Cup playoffs three years ago.
Instead of leading his team physically, McCabe wasn’t credited with a single official hit on the night in more than 26 minutes of playing time.
What a bad time for both Sundin and McCabe, the team’s two highest-paid players, to go sour.
Last night, they weren’t just ineffective, they seemed devoid of the fire required for the Leafs to prosper in an atmosphere that was noisy and intimidating.
Damien Cox answers his mail at The Spin, his blog at the Toronto Star,
Hypothetical situation - you are the commissioner of a fantasy NHL where you have sweeping powers to re-locate franchises as you see fit for the betterment of the game (in search of profits, good fan base, etc), all of the owners are OK with you to make such decisions on their behalf.
If you are to pick 4 teams from the current league, which 4 teams would you choose to re-locate and why.
A: Before I answer, what would be the salary of such a job? Oh, never mind.
Florida and Atlanta look like very, very iffy markets both now and down the line. Washington has had more than 30 years to stabilize and still hasn’t. Long Island, meanwhile, has been bad for a long, long time, and the dream of a new area remains a distant one. Phoenix looks lousy right now, but it would be interesting to see if a good team in that very nice arena might ultimately work. Nashville doesn’t seem to be attracting the support one would think possible with a very strong team. St. Louis looks dicey at the moment, but I really believe that situation will turn around.
Those are the candidates. If I had to pick four to move, I would pick Florida, Atlanta, Washington and the Islanders. Wouldn’t be much left of the Southeast Division, would there?
more mail answered, some Leafs specific…
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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