Jeff Veillette (Jeffler)
March 27 2013 09:52PM
The Toronto Marlies have been an impressive team of late. After falling out of the North Division lead, their ten game homestead gave the team time to re-evaluate and build chemistry, and did so in spectacular fashion, winning seven of them. The momentum continued as the team left town, leading to eight straight games without a regulation loss. However, all good things must come to an end at some point, and that was the case tonight, as the blue and white fell 4-1 to the Rockford IceHogs.
March 27 2013 04:23PM
We're a week away from the 2013 trade deadline and the Leafs are in the un-enviable position of having to choose between "buy" and "sell" mode. Whether you watch this team live or through spreadsheet goggles, the problems the team faces are pretty clear. They give up too many shots, their first line can't generate any pressure and the productive players are the ones who seem to be playing with the young Nazem Kadri.
Our pals around the Nations Network have offered their own individual takes for what their teams should do going into the deadline. The Leafs haven't been in a position to buy "or" sell at the deadline in recent years, although they did negotiate a good return for François Beauchemin and Tomas Kaberle in the 2011 season. Thanks to Brian Burke's efforts those years, the Leafs have pieces like Joffrey Lupul, Jake Gardiner and Joe Colborne plus a glut of conditional picks that have yet to become NHLers, but maybe they will some day.
Last season was a little toned down, however. The team re-signed Mikhail Grabovski and John-Michael Liles long-term. Burke traded Keith Aulie for Carter Ashton and Dale Mitchell for Mark Fraser. There weren't a lot of trade chips last season.
This year though, the Leafs have some interesting trade bait, and it will be interesting to see what Dave Nonis does to both maximize his team's shot at a playoff run this season.
March 27 2013 12:27PM
I'll have Joffrey Lupul's babies, and Ben Scrivens'...also babies.
March 26 2013 09:15PM
Photo via Abelimages/NHLInteractive
All that matters after the conclusion of this game is that the Toronto Maple Leafs are six points clear of the ninth place team in the Eastern Conference, have a decided advantage in the all important "wins" and "regulation or overtime wins" tiebreaker, and at the very least are poised to flirt with important games in mid-April, even if every game down the stretch is doomed to be a nail biter filled with mistakes, errors, lapses, goofs and blunders.
Every time Dion Phaneuf gives fans on a breakout pass resulting in a breakaway. Every time Nazem Kadri's drop pass finds a player jersey. All those small events, that have been passed off as "well, that's just those Leafs" for the last eight seasons are elevated in importance. This is what it feels like, Leafs fans. This is what it's like to cheer for a team that really has a shot, if you've forgotten the feeling. A late-game scoring chance against and your heart sinks a little deeper, and somehow, it doesn't stop beating like a leaky faucet after the puck has been covered and the game has been stopped.
Toronto won a Tuesday night game against an inferior Southeast Division opponent to pick up two points in the thick of a playoff race. They looked bad while doing it, but three quarters of the way through the season, who cares anymore?
March 26 2013 03:18PM
I don't know if there is an image that captures the Leafs struggles in the latter third of last season than this perfect exhibition of brilliance by Luke Schenn. At that time, the Leafs had already lost four straight games, three of them coming at home. They had won just one of their last nine games and had slipped to three points back of a playoff spot.
Toronto's not there right now, but they're teetering, having won just two out of nine. They are getting lucky in the sense that four of their seven losses have come in the shootout so they're still picking up points during the slump, and while I hate the term "must-win", the Leafs are in the midst of a rough patch of the schedule. The play Florida tonight, don't have to beat them, but should beat the worst team in the NHL this season, a team with tonnes of injuries and goaltending issues.