September 21 2015 03:00PM
HOCKEY IS BACK! Well, pre-season hockey, that is. The Leafs are taking on the Ottawa Senators in Toronto tonight, and they're also taking on the Ottawa Senators in Ottawa. Well, Kanata. Nobody ever plays hockey in Ottawa. But still, you have to appreciate being able to watch two Leafs games at the same time, as long as you have the capacity to do so. If not, you'll still be able to read our spiffy post-games here at The Leafs Nation. Before the pucks drop, however, lets tackle some questions.
September 21 2015 01:58PM
Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski/USA TODAY Sports
Since arriving in Toronto following the lockout-abbreviated 2013 campaign - the only season in which the Maple Leafs have qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs since the imposition of the NHL salary cap in 2005 - goaltender Jonathan Bernier's status as the Leafs' No. 1 goaltender has been unchallenged.
When healthy, Bernier has started more than two-thirds of the time, and he's handily outperformed his backup James Reimer by every relevant metric (and by the irrelevant metrics too, like win/loss record and goals-against average). If Bernier continues to perform like he's the better of Toronto's two netminders, he'll continue to get the lion's share of the starts. If he doesn't though, well, Mike Babcock has indicated that he's hosting an open audition for the starter's job at training camp.
September 21 2015 01:00PM
We've reached the next key date in our patient march towards the start of the season. The Leafs first preseason games are tonight, split team matchups against Ottawa. Generally what that means is that Toronto fans will be treated to their most exciting lineup in Toronto and Ottawa will be treated to their more interesting lineup in Kanata.
For those looking to excited to get their first glimpse of the new look Leafs, the games will be on TSN 4 (Toronto area covering the game in Toronto) and TSN 5 (Ottawa area covering the game in Kanata) both starting at 7:30 PM ET.
September 21 2015 11:30AM
Peter Holland came to this team as a result of great incompetence. In an attempt to get as gritty and great as possible, the Leafs made a bunch of crazy signings and trades that put them right against the cap, to the point where they had to trade bargain contract Joe Colborne for pennies on the dollar.
Of course, it didn't work out too well. Dave Bolland's ankle tendon exploded, Tyler Bozak injured himself, and Nazem Kadri was suspended for attempting to murder Niklas Backstrom. The Leafs were suddenly left with Jay McClement as their first line centre. When you're 12-7-1 to start the year.. this is not a situation that you want.
So the Leafs went out and made a reactionary move, and traded Jesse Blacker and a couple of picks for Holland. While he hasn't been an elite player, he's certainly represented the team well and hopes to continue to do so this season.
September 21 2015 09:19AM
There are many things I am jerkish about in hockey and tonight we stumble onto another. I spend all summer waiting for the Rookie Tournament, but as soon as it starts I go into my "you don't learn anything from these games" narrative. I feel the same way about the preseason. I don't care if the Leafs win, if Nylander averages two points per game, etc. It pretty much all comes down to what Babcock gets out of this experience, and I'm most interested in seeing what he does with what is arguably the most interesting Leafs roster in over twenty years.
Last week's power rankings were pretty much limited to who I thought would make up the Leafs opening day roster (assuming they were under contract). This week, to keep the power rankings fresh I've opened them up to be the top twenty players still in Leafs camp. Since 16 players were dropped last night you won't see Ryan Rupert on this list, so I guess I'll have to think of a new number one.