October 05 2013 08:47PM
Back on March 24 2009, Curtis Joseph came in to the game with 57 seconds at the end of regulation after starter Martin Gerber got tossed. Joseph, then in a 2-2 game, made 9 saves, most of the highlight-reel variety, and Toronto would wind up winning in a shootout 3-2. Joseph was named the first star.
Jonathan Bernier may have replicated that one on Saturday night. After James Reimer uncharacteristically got pulled (in 38 starts last season, he was pulled just three times, including the game he was taken out for injury) after allowing four goals and two in quick succession, Bernier came in, stopping 15 pucks, plus two more in the shootout, and ultimately leading the Leafs to a 5-4 comeback win against the Ottawa Senators in the first Battle of Ontario game of the season.
Jeff Veillette (Jeffler)
October 05 2013 05:25PM
On a cloudy Saturday afternoon, the Toronto Maple Leafs prepared for their home opener at the Air Canada Centre. But a cab ride away, a similarly sized group of players who hope to take their place dropped the puck on their 2013/14 season. The Toronto Marlies opened things up against the defending Calder Cup Champions, the Grand Rapid Griffins. This was the very same team that eliminated them last year.
But what's the definition of them? There's a new coach in Steve Spott. There's a new team captain in Trevor Smith. In fact, only four skaters, both goalies, and the assistant coaches were involved in both elimination night and today's game. The Griffins were quite similar; a fresh start for both, if you will. So today's game was relatively normal in comparison to the storyline.
The end result? The opposite of last year's conclusion, a come from behind victory for the home team, as the Marlies won 4-3 in overtime.
October 05 2013 01:42PM
There are no shortage of storylines for tonight's first Battle of Ontario game of the season, but the chief of which is Clarke MacArthur's return to Toronto. MacArthur played three seasons with the Maple Leafs and was one of the team's better players during that time. He was taken off the team's second line during Randy Carlyle's pseudo-successful 2013 season, and like Mikhail Grabovski, had some strong words for the way Carlyle handled him.
I didn’t have a relationship (with him) and not many guys do,” MacArthur told sportsnet.ca and two Ottawa-based reporters. “It’s one of those things where he runs the show there and everyone knows that and that’s the way it is.
“It’s worked for him in the past, he’s got a (Stanley) Cup from that, but at the same time there’s other ways to do things, too.”
Jeff Veillette (Jeffler)
October 04 2013 11:13AM
Since arriving in the city in 2005-06, the Toronto Marlies have been fortunate to have stability in their captaincy, at least compared to most minor league teams. Marc Moro was the first and served for three years, before quitting professional hockey. Ben Ondrus did the same before heading to the Edmonton Oilers organization. Alex Foster followed, with a pair of seasons in Europe, and Ryan Hamilton followed in Ondrus' footsteps in the sense that he wore the C for three before heading to Oil Country.
With Hamilton's departure, the spot was up for grabs this year. With the season underway tomorrow afternoon, the team publically made their decision, naming Trevor Smith as the 5th captain in team history.
October 04 2013 09:31AM
Not at all surprising, Mark Fraser was placed on long-term injured reserve Friday morning, allowing Toronto a little bit of salary cap breathing room (it's sort of disgusting that it's gotten to the point where player injuries can become advantageous). Rather than call up a defenceman to replace Fraser and keep a seven-man unit going, the Maple Leafs instead decided to call up Jamie Devane.
There was a move that had to be made, and neither was ideal, but the Leafs chose to go with 13 forwards rather than 7 defenceman, at least for the time being, which is a ticking time bomb if somebody gets hurt in warmups. It's easier to go without a 12th forward than without a 6th defenceman for a full game whether you're at home or on the road, especially in Randy Carlyle's system where he tends to pay no attention to his fourth line wingers during the later stages of a game.