January 12 2011 11:35AM
For two periods, in San Jose on Tuesday night, the Toronto Maple Leafs showed very little. They fired twenty harmless shots at Antti Niemi. Meanwhile, in their own end, rookie netminder James Reimer was standing on his head trying to hold off the terrible trio of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley. Then the third period started, and the Leafs did four things - THE RIGHT THINGS - that guaranteed them victory and a three-wins-in-three-games start to this road trip.
January 11 2011 02:51PM
The human shoulder is an amazing device. Mikhail Grabovski has decided to use his to carry his business associates. On Tuesday, Maple Leafs’ fans realized something that, apparently, the National Hockey League didn’t. This season, Grabovski - and his shoulders - are all-stars. Since December 6th, Grabovski has done something that doesn’t happen a lot in professional sports but, when it does, it’s magnificent to watch. Grabovski has thrown an entire team on his back and said, “Let’s go, boys. I’m leading us to victory.” And, what’s made even more of a difference lately, is that his teammates have decided to use their shoulders too.
January 11 2011 11:59AM
There are two big losing streaks at stake in tonight's game. San Jose has lost their last 4 games and currently sit in 11th place in the West. Yeah, that's right, the perennial President's Cup challenging San Jose Sharks are at the moment out of the playoff picture. My how the mighty have fallen. The other losing streak on the line belongs to the Toronto Maple Leafs, that being the fact that they haven't won in San Jose in 14 years. Based on recent play, I gotta think that the Sharks will be playing the role of Slumpbusters tonight and here's why. James Reimer is once again in between the pipes for the Buds. That's right, after verbally being sent down to the Marlies twice in the past two days, James Reimer is still with the Leafs and according to Coach Wilson getting his third straight start. This is music to Leafs fans ears.
Starting in goal across from him will be Stanley Cup Champion Antti Niemi. Niemi is arguably having the worst season of all the Blackhawks castoffs as his 9-12-2 record and .908 sv% show. Really though, did anyone think he was even all that good last year? I sure didn't. Hell in the Stanely Cup Finals he only had 1 game with a save % over .875. Yeah, that's pretty awful. Think they should have just re-signed Nabokov? I bet they do. Good news for them, they still can but probably won't with only $1M in cap space available.
Follow me about the jump for more on tonight's game and San Jose's struggles.
January 11 2011 10:08AM
Scoring Chances for NHL Game Number 20631
The Leafs were dominated in the 1st period, territory wise, moreso than the scoring chance numbers suggest. However, Toronto rebounded with strong efforts in the 2nd and 3rd periods. They rattled off six consecutive chances to start the 2nd and outchanced LA 8-1 in the first ten minutes of the middle stanza. The Kings were able to slightly pad their total count after the Phaneuf slashing penalty, when they pulled Jonathan Quick from the net for an extra attacker while on the power play. It was a dicey situation for the boys in blue but Armstrong, Bozak, Gunnarsson, Schenn, and goaltender Reimer withstood this attack to secure the win.
Tomas Kaberle (10 chances for, 2 against at EV) and Luke Schenn (10 CF, 1 CA at EV) may not have put any points on the board but the defensive duo had a terrific game. The Leafs played a real physical game and Schenn was one of those leading the charge, tied for first on the team with 6 hits.
January 10 2011 12:01PM
James Reimer will suit up tonight in LA for the Leafs and will be sent back to Marlies as soon as Giggy's ready.
That sad news came courtesy of AM640's Marlies beat writer Kyle Cicerella this morning on Twitter. Ron Wilson had this to add as well, “This week, he’ll probably have to go back before we activate Jiggy,” Wilson said. “But he’s got some great experience, we have faith that he can get the job done and that’s a real bonus for us right now. We have two other goalies down there playing well, too, (Jussi Rynnas and Ben Scrivens). You can only use one goalie at a time, but it gives (general manager) Brian Burke some options.”
As Chemmy wrote in his post on Reimer this morning, "Hopefully sending Reimer back to the Marlies is a shrewd move. Perhaps he was due to cool off and getting him back into the AHL means he can continue polishing his game with the new confidence of dominating the NHL. Perhaps Burke is looking forward and not jeopardizing development for short term gains." That's the important thing to take away from all this. While keeping Reimer up would provide better goaltending over the Gustavsson/Giguere combo, this season is lost already. Burke is showing some patience here, a first for him in his Leafs tenure (think the panicked Kadri callup), so that's a good thing going forward. But enough about the future and how ultimately this move benefits the Leafs of tomorrow while harming the Leafs of today; something I'm in favor of. Let's get to Reimer's possible last NHL start of the 2010-11 season (until Giggy reinjures his groin in two weeks) and how the Leafs can come out of Hollywood with a win.
Probably the best news for the Leafs to hear is that Los Angeles won their last game 6-4 over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Previous to that, they had lost 5 in row to a combined score of 23 to 12. How is this good for the Leafs you ask? Because this means that Slumpbusters Incorporated is no longer in effect for the Maple Leafs. Thank you Columbus Blue Jackets! Also of good news to the Leafs is that this game is taking place in Los Angeles and not Toronto. This means that the all too familiar "Former Leafs player comes back to town and lights up the Leafs" is not in effect for Alexei Ponikarovsky. We're only a Kings broadcast team standing under a ladder away from another 9-3 drubbing. Everything's coming up Milhouse!