Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun,
The hype of Tuesday’s game at the Air Canada Centre — which can be branded ‘Lookin’ Out For No. 1’ — has been building for the past year.
First came Auston Matthews’ accidental birth date, placing him in a different draft class than Connor McDavid.
Then McDavid went to the Edmonton Oilers in the 2015 lottery, not his childhood Leafs team that was left holding runner-up numbers on either side of the winning combination. But McDavid broke his collarbone and was heartbroken to have missed his return to the GTA last Nov. 15....
“Connor versus Auston? I’d buy a ticket for that game,” said Oilers coach Todd McLellan, in the enviable position among peers to send both over the boards at the North American bench in September.
“If I’m a fan, I want to see this one. It’s the future of the league playing there. We have the luxury of seeing Connor every night, myself and (assistant) Jay Woodcroft. And the coaching staff at the World Cup saw them on the same team and the same line and that was a pretty fun week. I don’t think we’ll see that again because of their nationalities.”
from Kristen Shilton of TSN,
If there’s one thing this young Toronto Maple Leafs season hasn't been short on for goaltender Frederik Andersen, it’s adversity.
There was the blowout loss at home on Tuesday against Tampa. Then in the second period of Thursday's game against the Florida Panthers he was tripped awkwardly in his crease by Jaromir Jagr, which fortunately didn't do any damage. What did was the high-stick Andersen subsequently took from Colton Sceviour through his mask that split open his left eyebrow, after he had backstopped the Maple Leafs to a lead late in the third period.
The bloodied netminder stayed in though. He stopped 29 of 31 shots to give Toronto its second win of the year, downing the Panthers 3-2. The Leafs move to 2-2-3 on the season.
“It’s a little different experience. I’m sure that probably won’t happen the same way again,” Andersen said of his eventful night. “I’m glad the eye is okay [because] you never want to leave the game. I was just happy we could patch it up so it wouldn’t bleed too much and keep me out there.”
The last 72 hours have been a near-constant stream of debate, criticism and questions about Andersen and his league-low stats after five starts. Before Thursday’s game, many of the Maple Leafs defended their goaltender and lamented the quality of chances they have allowed up front that have hindered his success. Head coach Mike Babcock thought his team did even more of that against Florida.
Game highlights are below plus a video of the high-stick on Andersen...
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Babcock has staunchly defended Anderson publicly -- what else is he going to do? But you know that, behind the scenes, management has to be nervous to some degree, even a grizzled veteran like GM Lou Lamoriello. There's a lot riding on this investment in goal.
"I liked him in Anaheim," said an Eastern Conference goalie coach via text message of Andersen. "Was always concerned with his durability. Or his 'desire to play.' Anaheim protected their goalies well. But he still made saves, won the Jennings (Trophy) by a goal and he was excellent in the last game (last season) against the Caps to clinch (the Pacific Division). It's one thing to not make big saves. It's another to do uncharacteristic things and give up goals a junior could stop.
"I always say you don't lose your skills overnight," the coach continued. "It will turn if (Andersen) has any mental toughness at all.''
Added a Western Conference goalie coach via text message: "What I have seen (with Andersen) is busy feet. When he's not set, he has a tough time. I think he is one of the best. He has struggled, though.''
And finally, from an NHL scout: "He looks really active in the net right now. He's not allowing the play to come to him.''
from Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun,
“Absolutely, we’ve been very conscious of the people we keep around him,” Babcock said. “He’ll be surrounded by lots of people in his lifetime. He has to make good decisions. There are lots of people who will want to get to know him. But you have to decide who you are going to let into your immediate circle.
“Those people end up having an influence on you, who end up tightening you when you step out of line. It’s real important he makes good choices. But he’s a smart guy.”...
While Babcock won’t go into detail about who the Matthews mafia might be, 27-year-old winger Matt Martin is on one side of him in the practice rink dressing room, as well as on the road.
“I don’t know if that’s by design, but I obviously spend a lot of time with him,” Martin said. “He’s a good kid and I enjoy talking to him — other than when the media comes in.”
from Travis Yost of TSN,
Assuming the Leafs received the same goaltending talent through an 82-game season, they’d need to control about 58-60 per cent of 5-on-5 play to have a shot at breaking even in the goal department. That’s a harrowing and basically impossible task, considering the number of teams who have accomplished such a feat (a) can be counted on one hand; and (b) were legitimately Stanley Cup contenders, the likes of which include Mike Babcock’s old Detroit Red Wings team, Darryl Sutter’s Los Angeles Kings, and Joel Quenneville’s Chicago Blackhawks.
The good news is that while the jury is still out on Andersen’s talent, our best bet wouldn’t be the 89.5 per cent save percentage the Leafs have posted so far this season. He’s actually been a shade above 92 per cent at 5-on-5 in his career. So, if we assumed that Andersen will favourably regress toward his historical averages and the Leafs will maintain the same shot control, they’d be 16 goals above average – which, more likely than not, will mean a playoff berth.
Long story short: The Leafs look great, except for the goaltending. And that’s a pretty massive problem. Time will tell if Andersen can rebound, but if status quo remains, the Leafs might be in trouble despite assembling a very competitive team.
from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet,
The Toronto Maple Leafs turned the page at the outset of their centennial season, wiping away a long-standing policy of not retiring sweater numbers while dramatically sending Dave Keon’s No. 14 to the rafters at Air Canada Centre.
The changes were revealed during a ceremony before Saturday’s home opener against the Boston Bruins with a new set of banners unfurled.
In a surprising twist, the 10 honoured numbers belonging to 16 players were taken immediately out of circulation. It forced James van Riemsdyk to switch to No. 25 after wearing Borje Salming’s No. 21 for his first four seasons in Toronto.
None of the other suddenly retired numbers belonged to any current member of the team: No. 1 (Turka Broda, Johnny Bower), No. 4 (Hap Day, Red Kelly), No. 7 (King Clancy, Tim Horton), No. 9 (Ted Kennedy, Charlie Conacher), No. 10 (Syl Apps, George Armstrong), No. 13 (Mats Sundin), No. 17 (Wendel Clark), No. 27 (Frank Mahovlich, Darryl Sittler) or No. 93 (Doug Gilmour).
added 7:59pm, 26 minute video of the ceremony is below...
As the franchise prepares for its Centennial Anniversary home opener tomorrow night, the Toronto Maple Leafs announced today the definitive list of the one hundred greatest players in team history at Real Sports Bar & Grill with 'The One Hundred' presented by Canadian Tire. Dave Keon, who had his statue on Legends Row unveiled yesterday, was selected by the committee as the greatest player of the past 100 years.
As part of the celebration of The One Hundred, a commemorative team illustration of the 100 players voted as the greatest players in Maple Leafs history has been produced and will be sold exclusively at Canadian Tire stores throughout the Greater Toronto Area with net proceeds being donated to Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities, MLSE Foundation and the Toronto Maple Leafs Alumni Association.
continued with the full list...
STAMFORD, Conn. – Oct. 13, 2016 – Following an NHL record four-goal performance by 19-year-old American and 2016 Toronto Maple Leafs first overall draft pick Auston Matthews in his NHL debut last night, NBCSN announced today it will televise live coverage of Matthews’ first NHL home game this Saturday night at 7 p.m. ET, when the Maple Leafs host the Boston Bruins in an Original Six showdown.
Matthews, a native of Scottsdale, Ariz., became the first player in modern history to score four goals in his NHL debut on Wednesday night against the Ottawa Senators.
A very impressive debut.
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.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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