November 09 2013 09:05PM
The second period may have been the best period the Toronto Maple Leafs have played this year. All that time in the zone, all of those delicious scoring chances in front, and it's a shot from the outside that winds up beating Tuukka Rask, the only goal of the night for Toronto.
For the Leafs Saturday night, it was all of their biggest problems rolled into one for most of it, unfortunately. The penalty kill, which has been bleeding goals against, gave up two. The offence dried up. They ran into a hot goaltender, and the Boston Bruins absolutely took it to Toronto physically. It seemed the national broadcaster had an iso-cam during the play on most of the Leafs on the bench. Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf, Nazem Kadri, Mason Raymond, Joffrey Lupul and David Clarkson all looked a little banged up at some point. The good news is everybody seems healthy, and Toronto gets out of a back-to-back with a split. That's the goal going into these things, and the Leafs accomplished just that.
But they did not accomplish to shake off the scary ghosts of last year's playoffs and skate away with a victory. They were in it, and it was a very entertaining game—a very physical game—and the Leafs hung in there blow for blow with the Eastern Conference champions until the very. 3-1 the final after a late empty-net goal.
November 09 2013 10:23AM
I thought the Leafs weren't explicitly out-played last night. Despite getting out-shot by some outrageous number at even strength, this was like those games in the first week of the season against Ottawa and Montreal by having the raw powerplay advantage.
Obviously the big question is on James van Riemsdyk and him being switched to centre. I didn't think the breakout was particularly good for the first line last night and they didn't have a lot of transition opportunities. The Leafs didn't get their first two-on-one until overtime and Phil Kessel showed very little in the game save for his goal, which was outstanding, but he didn't get a lot of chances to attack the Devils line.
That's just in case you were wondering about my thoughts. At any rate, the Leafs won, which means Randy Carlyle has no reason to move Nazem Kadri up to the top line again. That said, Kadri's line with David Clarkson and Mason Raymond was the only one against the Devils that consistently generated offensive pressure. The Leafs are in Boston tonight, to play the team the Leafs played their five best games of the season last year in the playoffs. As far as I'm concerned, nothing else really matters about the matchup.
November 08 2013 10:37AM
Oh man, who is hyped about David Clarkson's return to New Jersey?
I'm moreso hyped that the Leafs are finally back on the ice, and that awful loss against Vancouver can officially be thrown onto the backburner. The Jerred Smithson era in Toronto officially begins tonight with the Leafs taking on their polar opposites: a team that has done a good job at controlling the shot clock over the last two seasons, but with little to show for it on the ice. In fact, the Devils are so devoid of offensive talent that they may play themselves right into lottery pick contention at the end of the year.
Leading scorer? Jaromir Jagr. The Devils are 4-7-4, and it's difficult to come up with an interesting angle about them. But good golly, we'll try.
November 06 2013 04:15PM
Well, it appears the Toronto Maple Leafs have "fixed" their hole at centre, luring mercenary Jerred Smithson out of retirement limbo and onto his fourth National Hockey League club in the last three seasons.
No, that's not a typo, and no, Smithson is exactly the wrong kind of player you want to look at when you're thinking about adding an experienced centreman. Smithson hasn't played above 12 minutes a game since the 2010-2011 season, and over the last two seasons has been hockey's worst offensive producer among forwards by an absolute longshot.
November 04 2013 01:28AM
The timeline for David Bolland's injury could range anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Erik Karlsson missed 31 games when his left achilles was lacerated last season on a similar play to the one that felled Bolland in Vancouver. Other recent examples are Vancouver's Kevin Bieksa missing 27 games to a leg laceration in 2009-2010, and Carolina's Cam Ward missing 13 games in the same season.
We haven't been updated yet on the severity of the injury, but it's probably a foregone conclusion that Bolland will be put on the long-term injured reserve shortly. That would keep him out until at least November 29th against Buffalo, but that's an optimistic date to circle on the calendar given how serious the injury looked at the time and the immediacy of the surgery. Bolland couldn't put any weight on his leg being taken off the ice.
So what to do at centre? Tyler Bozak is out for at least six more contests so the team is down to just Jay McClement, Nazem Kadri, and Trevor Smith.