October 10 2013 12:34PM
NHL teams are playing at least one game in every city this season, and tonight marks Toronto's visit to Nashville. Fresh off a defeat to the Colorado Avalanche, the Maple Leafs look tonight to earn their first win against a Conference III opponent. The Leafs roster gets a little more inexperienced tonight, with David Broll suiting up for his first ever NHL game, becoming the fourth Leaf this season to do so.
It's tough to drum up interest or storylines between non-conference opponents early on in the season. The Leafs hosted Nathan MacKinnon last time around, so I guess it's fair to say that now they'll be visiting the new home of the No. 1 prospect in the June draft, Seth Jones, who wound up being selected 4th overall. He's found his way onto the first pairing with Shea Weber much faster than anybody anticipated, after Weber's normal partner Roman Josi went down with a concussion.
October 09 2013 12:43PM
Joffrey Lupul has become the latest Maple Leaf to suffer an injury during the Leafs' mini cap crunch. He missed practice this morning with a "bruised calf" and is day-to-day, travelling with the team to Nashville and it's conceivable he may play, but are the Leafs ever scrambling for depth early on in the season so far.
So far the team has had to use Troy Bodie, Trevor Smith, Jamie Devane and Spencer Abbott in place of Nik Kulemin (chipped bone in ankle), Carter Ashton (broken nose), Jay McClement (paternity leave) and Frazer McLaren (who cares). So far the new guys have acquainted themselves well to depth positions on an NHL roster.
October 08 2013 02:17PM
The last time the Toronto Maple Leafs hosted the most recent No. 1 pick was February 6, 2012. The Maple Leafs won that game 6-3, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins went minus-3. The Leafs had won three straight at that point and were 28-19-6, comfortably within striking distance of the playoffs. The only win they'd have in the next 11 games would come, curiously, on the road against the same Edmonton Oilers.
The 2014 Colorado Avalanche have begun their season with two excellent and oddly-watchable games at home against the Anaheim Ducks and the Nashville Predators. They changed around their executive in the offseason more than any other team. Short of firing the general manager Greg Sherman, they surrounded him with Joe Sakic brought in as the new Executive VP, promoted Craig Billington to assistant general manager, and hired Patrick Roy as head coach and also as VP of hockey operations. Sherman is all but a speck of dust in the distance, with the Avalanche organization having placed an anvil above his head to be dropped if the team ever loses three straight games.
More importantly, the team is bringing along Nathan MacKinnon, who is pretty good.
October 07 2013 10:19PM
It seems that for 29 teams in the league, it's fruitless to speculate on potential moves brought up in the press. Most trades happen serendipitously and without warning, breaking late at night or during lunch and inconvenience reporters that get no advance alert. They have to drop everything and report on something they didn't know to be true ten minutes before.
For the Maple Leafs it's a little more straightforward. The Leafs play smack-dab in the middle of downtown Toronto, the proverbial Death Star of hockey reporting. The Leafs are owned by two media companies that own collectively two sports networks, a newspaper and a magazine. The Leafs are the centrepiece of the CBC's deal with the National Hockey League, with the Maple Leafs getting the prime 7 p.m. slot most nights.
It's generally advisable to ignore any and all rumours dealing with 29 teams in the league. Not with the Maple Leafs. Information gets out quickly and spreads. When something pops up written by a columnist or a television personality, such as the Leafs looking to trade for John Bernier, or to trade Joe Colborne, you'd be wise to listen. Rumours are almost always substantiated in this town. While Dave Bolland was a surprise, David Clarkson was not, and the public got a very detailed look at the negotiation process with Nazem Kadri.
So it's with that qualifier that I feel comfortable highlighting these passages from Elliotte Friedman's 30 Thoughts column, centring around young Jake Gardiner:
October 07 2013 01:18PM
There are a few reasons we can say the Toronto Maple Leafs started 3-0. It's not all because they're a group of 20 players collectively sticking the middle finger to math. While the Leafs are getting out-played at 5-on-5, they've been making up for it in other areas and unlike last season, a fast start can't be credited only to the team's shooting and save percentages.
Since there's little else to talk about in the way of games, new line combinations or trades, I figured today may be a good time to go through a few of them.