Let's Talk Kulemin Instead

First off, congratulations to Cujo for not handing away another game and getting his 450th win in an NHL regular season. Secondly, did anyone pay attention to Kulemin last night? Other than the tap-in goal, I mean. Kulemin is easily our best fore-checker. Watch Ponikarovsky; skate in 20 feet, wave stick one-handed at either defenseman, retreat. When Kulemin goes in the defense has to get away from him. It's like watching a flock of birds in flight; one turns, they all do. Not to mention the fact that if he keeps playing with Grabovski, he will keep scoring goals like the one below for a long time.

Dear Mr. Wilson,

Please stop putting Kulemin on the fourth line. I think his defensive game is great. Let him start scoring goals. Let's not make him into Stephane Yelle or PJ Axelsson.




More Pogge Wishful Thinking

Tonight's game is where us, as Leafs fans, will find out if Ron Wilson is a superstitious coach. Justin Pogge got his first NHL win against the lowly Thrashers and a black-cat-avoiding coach would put the same goaltender in the net for a rematch. Especially because it was somewhat of a whimsical choice the last outing. I'm sure Brian Burke would like to see Pogge a bit more over the next stretch to make sure that getting rid of Vesa Toskala would be a great idea. I'm sure that the Maple Leafs could use another half-full bucket of pucks for their practices.


Laid Down

"Laid Down" was initially a mistake name for my Leafspace blog. It was actually a description of one particular game. Now it is the Anthem of one of the most piss poor Maple Leafs teams that I have had to watch. Last night was the first time I have ever fast forwarded through a game. I just knew it was going to end as it did. Really, you don't have to be Kresgin to see it some nights. The formula is there; a player reaching a milestone, any opposing player from within 500 miles of Toronto playing that needs their first goal/point, long opposing team losing streak, Toskala in net = GUARANTEED LOSS. Every time.....even when the Leafs were better. Don't forget how great they are on Banner nights too. I think I finally went over the edge to frustrated........and I didn't even swear after the first goal on Toskala............


Like a First Date for the Second Time

You're standing on the front step, waiting to get the courage to ring the doorbell. You reach up and find that the doorbell doesn't work. You tentatively rap your knuckles on the door, feeling the harsh sting from the frozen wood. Her father answers the door and looks you up and down before asking if he can help you. You say that you're here to pick up your date "The Playoffs" and was she home? Again her father looks you up and down and turns his head away and yells to your date that you were there to pick her up and were 59 minutes late. Your date comes down the stairs, looking beautiful, like you hadn't seen her in four years. She walks slowly to the door and gives you the same slow look up and down that her father did. Looking down yourself you finally notice what they already had; that your pants were around your ankles. This was the second time in four outings that you felt the breeze, but never thought to look down until now. Knowing that you had two days off, you walk home to take a break and maybe go knock on her door again on Boxing Day.

Merry Leafs Christmas!


Hagman Is My Hero

I really enjoy watching Hagman and Kulemin on the fore-check. For two small-ish guys they play big in the corners and aren't afraid to go to the net. Hagman, in particular, is willing to take abuse. Hagman came back from a concussion to score a goal a game from in close. Also something that brings me much joy is the Tikannen-esque attitude that Hagman throws around at times. The staring down at Nabokov after a late goal in a 5-2 loss to the Sharks was as satisfying a useless goal at the end of a game as I can imagine. I hope to see the Kulemin-Hagman-Grabovski line sticking together, especially to get Kulemin off of the fourth line. He isn't going to get any better offensively playing with Deveaux, but he may learn a bit about taking the body. He does fine now, but he could be even more physical to great effect. I have a feeling there will be another Hagman goal tonight, assisted by the lately-silent Grabovski. I am calling a Toronto win of 3-2 with Pogge getting his second win of the season.


Pogge Gets The Call

Justin Pogge's shining numbers: 10-9-3, 2.86 GAA and a .890 Save Percentage. This says way more about Cujo than it does about Pogge. This is also a harbinger of Burke's idea a his Maple Leafs team; bring up the prospect goalie, playing ok, and let the chips (and losses) fall where they may. My guess is that this is a short lived experiment, maybe until the Christmas break is over. I wish Pogge luck, win a game tonight and earn another for tomorrow. Maybe he won't be forever scarred from a loss.......maybe.


Fooling Ourselves

This is the second or third time that I have found myself getting hopes up that there is a corner being turned by this incarnation of Leafs team. This time it was a 3 game win streak, instead of 2, but the crash was just as hard. Did Toskala have you thinking he might have his shit together? Nope, first scoring play, first goal. Just like in New Jersey and 4 of 5 contests prior to that. Did Cujo have you feeling nostalgic? Had me remembering high scoring affairs with Grant Fuhr show-boating in goal. Overall, I am at peace with the re-building faze. Not saying that I don't curse throughout an entire game while watching. I don't think that my passion will ever wane in that regard. If the Leafs someday win 81 games I will swear when they drop the last one. I can't wait til Mats Sundin comes back and saves the franchise.....what?......Vancouver?........awwwwwwwwwwwww


Stralman Sent Down

After altering the very time-space continuum that my life revolves around(that being that there is ALWAYS a Saturday night Leafs game calling me to drink Molson Canadian) the Leafs have made a logical decision to send the only AHL available defenseman down to the minors. Stralman was playing ok, which obviously wasn't good enough for Ron Wilson. While being a plus 1 on this Leafs team (on defense, to boot) is pretty amazing, he will be watched in the minors to see if he can throw up bigger numbers in a lesser league. Good luck, Anton. Hopefully you can respond better than Colaiacovo did, with his guarenteed roster spot and all. Speaking of which Colaiacovo is now at a .5 point-per-game pace, compared to the .1 point-per-game pace he had with the Leafs. While Steen has doubled his PPG average to a more impressive .4 PPG. Although he still remains on pace for a very low plus/minus. Does anyone miss these guys yet?


Avery Response

Following is my response to a Morris Dalla Costa article on Slamsports:

"I thought I was the only one not impressed by condoning what Avery has done by referring to Rachel Hunter as his "squeeze". I believe it was another Sun writer that I can't recall checking to see what their name was. I'm not disagreeing with the need to implement better, easy to understand conduct rules. But as seen with the "Avery Rule", the NHL head office tends to have quite the reflexes in its knee-jerk reactions. Hopefully, the NHL uses the time it has taken well and comes out with a sensible edict for Avery(and not embarrass themselves more in the process). One thing I think that gets lost in the mix is that sometimes it isn't easy being a Hockey fan. Avery perpetuating the block-head mentality colors the stereotypically perceived hockey player in an even worse light. NFL fans scoffing that hockey "isn't even a sport" then have fuel to further mock our fanaticism for the sport. I don't see any other players this dim-witted on T.V. It's unfortunate that Avery had the opportunity to mouth off to such a huge audience(and I must admit that the media were standing and waiting for their Avery-ism). Jeremy Roenick and Brett Hull are no longer comparisons like they were a mere few years ago. Those guys seem like prep school debate stars in comparison now."

We can see what a truly penitent man Avery was at his meeting with Bettman by the respectful eye gear he wore for even more attention leaving the NHL building. I hope he languishes in the Quebec Senior Mens fighting Hockey League(if anyone can remind me the actual name of the league, I'm embarrassed I couldn't remember or figure it out).


18,000th Goal!

The 18,000th goal in Leafs history was scored last night by Matt I-almost-threw-the-game-away-in-the-first-period Stajan. Even more important was the rookie goal leading Grabovski's goal in the third period. Most of the night it looked like a mistake to have a guy playing that needed IV drips just to hydrate, but I guess it paid off, Ron. My one question in this short post is this; is Deveaux ever going to beat someone up to keep his job? Burke is watching, Andre. Last, but not least, if you didn't like Finger yet, now is your time! I'm just as pissed as Greg Millen that FInger ended up in the box for what was basically wrestling a dummy to the ice after destroying Mollen with a clean hit. Have a nice day, Derek Armstrong.


Tensions Rising

A quote from Sportsnet this morning, "The spirit of Tuesday night spilled over to practice on Wednesday as Leafs forward Dominic Moore and defenceman Jeff Finger got into a disagreement. The gloves were dropped by both parties but it was quickly broken up by teammates." I have to say it's about time that someone got pissed off instead of thinking that there will be a come back whenever they allow three goals in the first period. I'd love to see some intensity on game night. Hopefully the tension actually has something to do with hockey. The only problem I have with it is I hope that this kind of thing doesn't get to the point of a fist-fight a week in practive like up in Ottawa.

If Cujo Made A Save....

Perhaps on the second shot, that would have been nice. Asking a young team to play mistake free hockey is ridiculous. Having a guy with 449 wins to maybe steal a game instead of doing his now-patented "goddammit double fist pump" would be much appreciated, too. I'm not going to be that guy giving Cujo kudos for saving a breakaway that Ilya Kovulchuk shot into his sullied logo. The score could easily have been 8-3 with the swim practice he had in the third period. I'm not blaming Cujo, an idol of mine for quite some time, for this loss. I'm asking him to do his job and push the indifferent starting goaltender to do his job. I'm asking other Leafs fans not to try to put a positive spin on a game by acting like they knew who Stempniak was the whole time, they were just waiting to see what you knew about him. I've done some top-of-my-head math and if the leafs play the next 61 games like they have the last ten, they will win a grand total of 12 more games this season. That is a long season, one I was prepared for, but not prepared to like very much.


Cujo To Play Against Atlanta

This just in from Sportsnet......Cujo is to play tonight against Altlanta. And Lee Stempniak has passed his physical, but it is unknown on whether he will play tonight. I hope he does, just so the I-only-watch-the-Eastern-Conference fans can see him up close. I don't think he's played in front of a crowd like Toronto's(although St. Louis has had good turn outs for years). I am also hoping that Cujo can pull his head out of his ass and make a few saves when they are needed. I am not against Cujo make a string of starts to inspire Vesa into playing hockey again.


Colaiacovo Down

Direct quote sent to me via the sportsnet update service, "Carlo Colaiacovo injured his leg at practice blocking a shot. He had to be helped off the ice." Can everyone say it with me now....."AGAIN?" This is a great thing, because I would love to see Frogren get another shot. I'm starting to wonder why they went through all the trouble if they aren't going to us or showcase the guy. ANd let's hear it for a more defensive core of defensemen out there anyways.


Bring Ed Belfour In As Goaltending Coach

We need some timely goaltending. Not sure what has to happen to get a game saver. We have one of the all-time best scramblers backing up Toskala right now in Cujo. Not sure what career backup Corey Hirsch is going to train Vesa. I never really understood bringing in journeyman to train major pro athletes. Can't Toronto afford to steal away Tretiak? Or better yet I would love to see Belfour as goaltending coach. Anyone with me?


Leafs At Vancouver 11/15/08

1114h Prediction: Luongo is harder to crack than a rookie in his 4th game in Edmonton. Toronto loses in OT 4-3. Grabovski finally goes pointless and there is another injury(all sunshine, that's me)


Mitchell May Be Back

Quoted on Slamsports(bottom of the page) as saying John Mitchell may return, who would you take out of the lineup? My choice would be Dominic Moore(could be more productive). I'm hoping Mitchell isn't a one period wonder.......


Leafs Vs Oilers 11/13/08

1747h PST Pregame prediction: Having Dressed Colaiacovo instead of Frogren, Colaiacovo will cost the Leafs at least one goal. Should have dressed Frogren. Coloaiacovo is too soft on the puck. I will go one step further and say he will cause the goal by not clearing the zone when he had the chance.

2152h PST Well, the Leafs pulled that one out of their asses with their powerplay. Colaiacovo played ok, but his footspeed caused him problems all night. Grabovski gets better every night. Just when it started to look like he wasn't going to be rewarded for his hard work, he pots a goal on a sweet pass from Blake. Blake looked pissed off. I'm not a fan of the dirty low bridge he threw. He can go rot in Colorado with Tucker if that's what he thinks is called competing. Overall a great turn around from a lack lustre loss in Calgary and an atrocious, error filled first period.


Oh Woe Is The One-timer

How many one-timers can the Leafs allow into their goal in one game? In Calgary, 3 out of 4 goals(or so it felt). The new defense mechanism that Ron Wilson has trained our beloved Leafs is to have the Defensemen stick to the post and not chase players with the puck behind the net. Sounds feasible. Until that opposing player goes around in front of the net and Tomas Kaberle is still screening his goalie and deflects the puck in past his unsuspecting goaltender. As unflappable as the coaching staff say Toskala is, I am hoping that he starts getting a little pissed off soon. Toskala is earning his goals-against and save percentages. I know, I know, the defense isn't helping on some of the goals. Last year, in front of a crappier team, Toskala single-handedly kept the Leafs in some games. That is what you come to expect and need from a starting goaltender. I have a sneaking suspicion that Cujo may play in the next two games and I wouldn't be looking forward to a duel between Cujo and Luongo. Last time I saw Cujo play for the Leafs in Vancouver it was a 6-5 OT win for Toronto, while McCabe took out Mogilny for ten games by being Bryan McCabe and breaking Mogilny's hip(and lots of people swore ate me for wearing a Leafs jersey, the OT win was worth it). Not to mention the Brashear/Belak fight. I'm not sure which game would be better. The one in 2002 or on Saturday?


Mike Van Ryn Out Indefinitely

There's not a lot I want to add to the gutless check from Kostopoulos. I would like to say that it just figures that a longshot pick up for the Leafs finally pay off, only to see him splattered into oblivion. While being out 4 to 6 weeks, Van Ryn has to come back from yet another serious injury. That means getting into game shape, avoiding getting gun shy(still going into the corners) and usurping whoever fills his spot until he is healthy again. The "Colaiacovo Effect" doesn't seem to be being used this year(that being that if you are a "top prospect" you automatically get to play when not injured). Good luck to you healing up good as new Mike, you are one of the bright spots this year and you will be missed. And hopefully we can see the fruits of a great trade pay off more this year.


Veterans Continue To Come Up Short

More mistakes from veteran players and poor play by Vesa Toskala continue to take the Leafs down a losing path. I'm not going to bother to address the whole "they couldn't come back this time" thing. They shouldn't have to. The best players night in and night out have been the players with less than 150 NHL games on their resume. Key turnovers at the blue line by Ponikarovsky and others have ended up in the net. The most concerning thing for me is how the Leafs coaching staff continue to let Jsaon Blake take 2 minute shifts. What good is his speed if he runs around for two minutes chasing the puck like a spaniel chases a bumper? He already has the built in problem of being put on his rear end deep in the offensive zone every time he is in there. All in all there are some looming trends that need to be shored up in order to be watching a more consistent team. Ron Wilson turned down a question post game about what the team needed to work on most. That in itself is a little scary to me.


All Those Little Things

I do believe there have been a few transformations of Leafs players that were left from the "Maurice Years". The most obvious is Dominic Moore. From fourth line plugger to worthy of wearing a "C". Another is Ian White's moving to forward and being effective, if not a little tired at the end of a game. The transformation that worries me, though, is the one of Tomas Kaberle. It seems Kabby has taken Bryan McCabe's place as the absolute worst defenseman for keeping the puck in at the point. I have noticed that it's worse at home, so maybe the ice quality could be a factor. So many times on the powerplay against Carolina last night the puck has squirted back to Toskala(who I am afraid may just let it in the way he has played the last 5 games). It also looks as though Kaberle hasn't quite bought into the whole "we're going to move the puck quickly up the ice" thing. Although very good at avoiding and deking through the neutral zone, I am sure that it gives Ron Wilson gas watching the potential turn overs. Whatever happened to Kaberle's long effective passes? Too much pressure with more leadership to deal with, maybe? Kaberle was the one I thought would rise above and really take this team by the horns(maybe it was hope). Not sure what can be done about intangibles such as leadership, but watching 3 goal come backs may be exciting, but may also give me heart problems.


Two Week Hiatus

After two weeks off (not missing a game, mind you) I have a few things to mention about the Leafs play of late.

Contrary to popular opinion I'm not as quick to let Cujo off the hook for the game the other night. Yes there were a few defensemen standing around on two of the goals. Yes they're a young team and got overwhelmed. But that is exactly why he was bought in. A veteran presence to calm the younger players and mentor where appropriate(and not just the goaltenders). This is where Cujo failed his young charges on Sunday.

On the flip side, I didn't pipe up last week to mention how impressed I was by veterans Nick Hagman and Vesa Toskala getting their poop in a scoop on Wed Oct 29, 2008 and bringing home a huge shootout win over one of the best goaltenders to ever play the game.

Hopefully I will have time after the game tonight to get a post up and start getting updates more often.


Back To Back Cherry

After the Leafs first back-to-back we may have an idea of the hockey we are to see over the next 5 1/2 months. A somewhat energetic fore check followed by leaving the goalie out to dry. Cujo played admirably in his game and due to a user error, I didn't get to see the Rangers game from Friday. Hagman continues to impress me along with whoever they put with him. As long as they are fast and can play a puck possession game they get along with Hagman. Kulemin and Grabovski fit that bill and Hagman's line was by far the best line on the ice for either team. Yes, I think they played better thatn the Crosby line. All the Crosby line points were gimmes against the worst penalty kill in the league(I can't back that up with stats, but have you seen the Leafs penalty kill?).

The next Leafs game is against Anaheim Ducks. I don't know who they are going to call up to fight....maybe Bell? Could be his last chance at the NHL. More on Wednesday(I said moron!!)


Integral Weekend

This is the first of many high profile back to backs for our young team. There are several great insider-like videos over at the Maple Leafs Official Website. I've noticed lately that the "legitimate" media is borrowing directly from LeafsTV's direct coverage to write their articles. That's supposed to be what I do, since I'm 4467 Kms away from Toronto.

Anyways, I will be watching the games back to back Sunday night(maybe), so I will give you my view on the carnage then. My calls for this weekend:

Cujo starts Friday night and lets in a few stinkers then settles down

Kulemin scores on Friday night, but Toronto loses 5-2 to a pissed off Rangers having lost 3-1 to the Sabres on Wednesday night

The best line continues to be Hagman-Kulemin-Tlusty

Chew on that!



I will be on holidays outside of the realm of the internet until October 14th. While basking in the mountains of Alberta, I will contemplate the season to come and tryo to contain my excitement of watching Center Ice!


Bad Fan

I found out this morning, by randomly searching TicketMasters for Leafs tickets in Vancouver THAT THEY ARE SOLD OUT! I set up an alert to tell me when ANY seasons tickets went on sale AND I TRUSTED THEM. So, this year my coverage will all be from my FULL SEASON of NHL Center ICE! The full season cost me less than what TicketMasters wanted for one ticket in the lower bowl(by about $100 CDN). I really am kicking myself. It will be at least 14 months til the next time they are here. Maybe there is a seat sale to Edmonton around then and I can go with my Dad to an Oilers/Leafs tilt(one can dream, right?).

Last Nights Game:

Laugh of the Night: Stralman falling on his ass and giving the puck to Malkin

Play of the Game: Grabovski pounding to the net and beating Sabourin five-hole

Something to Build On: Kulemin and Hagman's speed on the same line

Whipping Boy:Tim Stapleton for his four minutes in penalties

Player of the Game: Niklas Hagman with a great two way game and flashes of his tenacity


NHL 09 Review

I thought I would actually do a review of the NHL 09 since I have been playing it for a week.

Improvements: There are several improvements to note that significantly change the game. The one you're all hearing about is the ability to "stick lift". I have been using the crap out of it, gleefully pounding the "A" button. The "lift stick" works well, is hard to time and definitely feels great when you pull it off at the exact moment you need to.

The biggest addition is something I barely noticed at first. EA has added a visual cue as to the status of the puck. If someone is in full possession of the puck there is no cue at all. If the puck is slightly bobbling but the player is still with in a few feet with no one checking him yellow, throbbing circles appear around the puck. If the puck is 100% free and no player is even close to it there is a resounding red throbbing circle around the puck. This is great to help locate the puck, for one, and to know that the puck is free. This is what lets me know that I can go into the crease hammering the new poke check trying to retrieve a pouncing biscuit and tuck it home for a well earned garbage goal. Garbage goals are something this series has seriously lacked since it's inception.

The Be A Pro Mode(BAP) is so addictive that it should be illegal. I am playing on Pro setting and I imagine I would still be getting slaughtered on the Marlies if I was on Superstar. The camera is intuitive, even though it suffers from the odd vomit-inducing swing when you go around the opposition's net. The one quirk that takes away a little from the experience is the imperfect "Line Change" feature. If you wish to change sometimes the game will decide that it is not time yet and take over your character as opposed to sending him off. This almost always ends in a "minus", as he stays out until there is a whistle(which is usually a goal because your character is exhausted) . But overall BAP is all the fun it was expected to be and upgrading your character and reaching milestones can makes ones' day. This feature is truly the "just one more game" feature.

The extension of BAP is the EASHL MMO portion. As of this writing I have only been able to successfully complete 3 games with one of my team mates. The servers at EA are most certainly suffering from something and I am hoping that they have the bugs ironed out soon. This league seems like it could be agreat time once it is working. The substitute for now is the Online Team Play, where you can play as your BAP player and still level him up(if you play a ranked game). These games are still hard to start, but that is mostly because of the personality disorders of the users.

Overall this game is absolutely amazing and ahould garner even more Game Of The Year awards this year. If only I could find the time to play more!

I will continue to do a more comprehensive(at my leisure, of course) review of the finer aspects of the game as the weeks go on. Yes, I love it that much......


Flotsam vs Jetsam

Flotsam - flot~sam - noun - material(Van Ryn) or refuse floating on water(in Florida)

Jetsam - jet~sam - noun - goods(McCabe) cast overboard deliberately, as to lighten a vessel or improve its stability.

So, Leafs fans, you now have been presented with the new Cliff Fletcher Flotsam/Jetsam trade. Remeber this after 25 games......Van Ryn didn't have to pass a physical and is making $3.35 million a season for two more years. Van Ryn and Colaiacovo should probably combine for more than half a season in man games lost. We just may see Schenn before the end of the season!

P.S. I am without the interweb at home until at least Friday, so updates may continue to be sporadic Edit: I just found out the NHL 09 demo is out for download on XBox Live and I won't have interweb for a week I AM PISSED!


Not Writing About NHL 09

By complete accident I have spiked my blog's readership. It seems all you have to do is type the words "NHL 09 Preview" or "NHL 2K9 Demo Review" and suddenly I have a bunch a hits! I was going to entitle today's entry "Free Sex and Beer", but that's not the readership I'm going for. I will be adding some links to some older blogs I have here at Blogspot. I have several interests other than hockey that I occasionally write about that would just be inappropriate in a Leafs Fan Forum. For an actual hockey fans hands on opinion of the PS3 NHL 09 Demo have a look at Going Five Holes' experience along with a Sex, Lies and Videotape quality video of the game in action. (A P.S. to add to this that I will be moving this weekend and will be without interweb until my ISP comes and hooks me up on 09/02/08)


Ex-Leafs Getting Their Chances

Brendan Bell, tossed away two years ago after minimal NHL exposure has resurfaced in Ottawa. They are talking like he has a chance to make the roster their, but I think it is a symptom of having nothing to talk about in the slowest part of the year for hockey news. Kyle Wellwood seems to think that he has shown up in game-shape in Vancouver and that he can contribute, especially on the power-play. I DO think that the Leafs gave up on him too soon, but Wellwood dug his own grave. No one forced him to come back from a groin injury. If he had shown up ready to play at camp he probably would have been fine and had a breakout season. But I could just be bitter because he didn't accept me as a friend on Facebook.


NHL 09 Preview

I searched the internets everyday for new information on NHL 09. I happened on this today and it has raised my excitement for this years iteration of the game(apparently this video came out on August 12th, but it's the first time I've seen it). Have a look if you are at all interested. I think I may have a new hero(for a while, anyways). David Littman, the Producer of the game, leads the commentary on the video(while playing). He seems to truly love hockey and his love shines through during the game. He is constantly saying things about little aspects of the game as they happen. At one point he gushes about an effective poke check. The other thing that I liked was the amount of fun all the people that were playing seemed to be having. You can hear one the the guys say Son of a Bitch! when his team got scored on in the background. Get ready for NHL 09 which ships on September 9th!


NHL 2K9 Review

I sat down with the NHL 2K9 Demo on the XBox 360 last night. Even though I hadn't bought NHL 2K8, I had tried it out and NHL 08 blew it away and I never went back to it. This will be the case again this year. Visual Concepts studios has basically went back to the drawing board and tried to emulate everything that was successful about NHL 08 last year. 2K9 attempts to add the right analog stick into the mix in two fashions: to shoot and stick handle when in possession of the puck and to swing your stick all willie-nillie to defend when without the puck. There are bumper button controls to either soft or hard-dump the puck. But when you get over the blue line it's almost impossible to get to the puck first. If you try to use the the controls you are forced to press the "A" button to boost(which NHL 07 got rid of to great effect). I found it I went straight up the middle (between defenseman, pressing the boost button) with Marian Hossa and did a wrist shot, the hunch-backed Marc-Andre Fleury will ALWAYS miss it. This is what supremely pissed me off in 2K7; VERY weak goals.

I found myself straight out laughing at the goals I scored. And also at the odd body posturing that the 2K series seems to insist upon. There was a time when the 2K series had such potential. During the "Lean Years" NHL 2K3 was mind blowing. They added scrums along the boards and digging the pucks out of the corners. These are things that neither series has perfected(The EA series has seemed to have given up on it). I'm going to stop being any more critical of this, as it was only a demo(and I only played it for an hour; I found myself to be getting frustrated AND bored). This demo has only gotten me upset that the PS3 owners get to play the NHL 09 demo and I have to wait until September mere days before I BUY THE GAME ANYWAYS. The one final thing I will admit is that I will be lobbying for the powers that be at work buy the Wii version so we can play some kind of hockey at work........


Mats Sundin Puts His Pants On.....

ONE LEG AT A TIME! Holy crap, people. Do we really need an update from some guys Mats probably beat up in high school? Every time something doesn't change a story shows up on three major Canadian Sports News Websites. Well, here's a video about something completely different......

PS, Jeff Finger can't fight.



This video may be a little over the top with the pathos, but I have to be honest, I'm pretty stoked about this season. I think the Leafs have a real underdog teram right now that could end up looking like the '05 Oilers:


Sundin Video.....Countdown

Found a nice little montage of Mats Sundin goodness. Let's start the needless heartache now with a look back at a stellar Leafs career that may or may not be over. Again, thanks to the person who put this together....I will be putting up someone elses hard work every day or so until training camp.


Dog Days

It's been a little slow around the NHL scene the last week or so. So I guess I will share these videos with all respect to Bryan McCabe:

And with awe and reverence to Curtis Joseph:

Thanks to the people who actually put these videos together!


See, They Listened!

I read on Slamsports yesterday that Cliff Fletcher has said publicly that he will basically be giving the "C" to Pavel Kubina is Sundin doesn't come back. I mentioned my two candidates a few weeks ago; Kubina and Kaberle. Now that the cat's out of the bag, I'm kind of leaning towards Kaberle getting it(just to be a contrarian, I'm sure). Fletcher also mentions having a rotating system, like Minnesota. Wouldn't that be great? They always mention Sundin as the 20th Captian of the Maple Leafs. You could one day hear "Ryan Holweg, 29th Captian of the Maple Leafs". Not sure I like the ring of that.............


A Tribute to Niklas

I found this video on Youtube and thought Leafs fans would be quite happy to have something positive to watch with their Cheerios. Hagman has much nicer hands than I thought. Check it out:


New Videos Up At EA Sports Hockey 101

EASPORTS.COM has 2 new videos up on their Hockey 101 page. Click the here to have a look. This game is shaping up to be one of the most immersive sports games I`ve ever seen. I will probably need to take some time off of work(I guess this game will be the hockey nerd`s equivelant to GTA IV). It`s a good thing that my wife`s birthday falls a few days prior to the game`s September 11th release!


The Stamkos Show

With his first entry level contract signed this morning and all the statements made this afternoon, young Steve Stamkos hit the ice with 28 other prospects at the Tampa Bay Lightning Camp. I watched the 3 fifteen minute periods that ended in a 3-1 win for the black team. Stamkos had a few good rushes, with no points. Everyone on the ice wanted to be the guy who passed the puck to him to see what he would do. This kid is fast, three strides and he's half way down the ice. Another player that people were there to see was Ty Wishart. He's big and strong and likes to carry the puck. He also had a few good rushes that ended with the puck on net. I took this photo with our newest camera and the jerseys seem to be somewhat phosphorescent and give the photos the much sought after "Tron" effect. All the kids seem to have some speed. A few standouts for me were: Derek Lee is a fast Center who can get up ice fast, but is on the small side; Justin Courtnall(Geoff's son) is tall and strong winger who could use some meat but has a good stride and isn't afraid to get his nose dirty. It's a pretty quick amount of time to take in where a player sits in his development. I truly gained a lot of respect for scouts. I'm not sure what else is on the schedule for the prospect camp or whether I'll be able to catch it, but tonight was a blast and I wish there was more things around Victoria like this going on. This also inspires me to get to more Salmon Kings games this year. I will update you on that as the season goies on. Have a great Stamkos day!

Bear Mountain Hockey Central

Last year the Vancouver Canucks held their training camp at Bear Mountain Arena in Langford(a suburb of Victoria, BC). I live ON Bear Mountain which houses a resort. I overlook the 18th tee of the golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus. I found out yesterday on the radio that the Tampa Bay Lightning are having their prospects camp in the exact same location. I will try to get down to Bear Moutnain Arena tonight for the scrimmage. I would imagine, being free, that the turn out will be massive to see Steve Stamkos. Being the massive NHL fan that I am, I just might go down there......MIGHT. Have you tried to drive the Colwood Crawl at 5:30PM?


NHL 09 EA Sports Hockey League

I can't even tell you how stoked I am on the EA Sports Hockey League. I am definitely going to be a defenseman. I play a stay at home style(in real life) and throw the odd puck at the net from the point. I'm going to have to pump my stats a bit(I'm 6', 190lbs), but I'm sure I woun't be the one doing it! Have a look here at the first look trailer for the new feature!


The Year Of The Kab?

Having been a Leafs fan as long as I can remember, it seems that Tomas Kaberle has always been there. The perennial baby-faced boy wonder. 1000's of people yelling "SHOOT!" I have made peace with the fact that he, like Ales Hemski, was born to pass. I look forward to him doing that on a regular basis. To the likes of the 300mph Nicklas Hagman. I have to tell you, I am COMPLETELY stoked for this season. Come August 1st, I am hoping(but I won't be heartbroken) that Sundin will be back for his swan-song and leave a nasty set of records for some other porr sap to truy and break whe I am in my 60's.

Kaberle played his 5th full 82-game season last year and managed 45 assists. He's not Phil Housley, but he's one of my favorites. I still vote for him for the "C" if Sundin doesn't return. Anyone want to fight me on that one? He's too quiet for you? Jason Smith pulled it off for over 6 seasons after another quiet-just-play-by example-guy Doug Weight. So it can be done and with what I would guarantee would be a lot of class.


Coaching Staff Additions

Yesterday the inevitable was announced with the additions of Tim Hunter and Rob Zettle. An 80's/90's tough guy and former Leaf, respectively. Having grown up in Edmonton I have seen a LOT of Tim Hunter(and actually really liked him, not being a huge Oiler fan at the time). The trio had done a remarkable job, with an impressive roster, in San Jose. I'm actually getting more and more excited about this upcoming season(while trying not to be too naive about it). I sure will enjoy our penalty killing percentage go up, that's for sure. WSell, I will be gone to the great outdoors of BC until Saturday, so if anything cool happens, you'll have to text me and let me know!


Reward For A Job Poorly Done

The Maple Leafs will open their 2008-09 season on the road in Detroit on October 9th. This is the night that they will witness the raising of the Stanley Cup Championship banner. I'm not a conspiracy theory guy at all, but IF I WERE I would say that this would probably be as big a slap to the face that you could give to Leaf fans as a scheduler. Creeping into the 41st year of futility, watching a banner be raised(which the Leafs ALWAYS respond poorly to. Any type of pre-game festivities almost always result in a loss for the Leafs. Watch over the season and tell me I'm wrong) for something we haven't even had a sniff at in almost a decade hurts, buddy, let me tell ya. Don't get me TOO wrong here, I hope like hell that it's inspirational for the new crop of Leafs. Maybe management will have a look around at the Detroit organization(which is a veritable Lovefest compared to the rest of the league) and see if they can scoop some ideas for a playing model. The buzz in the building will be unreal, it's something every player should yearn for. I think I may be changing my mind to the thinking that this could be a great night, win or lose! I'm saving my spare change now to get the Center Ice package to watch this game and see where the season goes from there. I'm not planning a parade, but I'm not burrying my head in the sand, either.....Go Leafs Go!


The Woz Is Gone

Perennial bed-crapper Andy Wozniewski has been Picked up by St. Louis. Andy's +5 last year was a surprise when I looked it up, as it seemed every time there was a goal against, you could see he was staring at the ice beside the net. Good luck in St. Louis, I hope you get to play full time and become a more rounded player, Andy. Hopefully this will open a bigger crack for Luke Schenn to get his feet wet.

Free Tickets For The Weary

I found myself needing to comment on the free ticket pre-season game for the fans in Toronto on September 22nd. But I couldn't really wrangle what I was thinking into a coherent thought. The first flash was, "I don't live in Toronto, what have you done for ME lately!?!" Haven't I suffered as much, if not more, than a local Leafs fan? I have to shell out hundreds of dollars to see games on a weeknight on television, I get my news from jaded Toronto Sun writers and from listening to Al Strachan berate every management move(not that I don't agree with most of his views, he just comes off like a "I told you so, I know everything" kinda guy). I also live in a Canucks/Flames/Oilers hotbed and get lambasted for my loyalty to the most hated team in hockey. Seeing the Leafs in Vancouver costs as much as a game in Toronto(you easteners can't complain about that anymore), with the ferry, hotel and tickets. Not to mention the Leafs haven't been here in 4 years with the lockout included. So, where's my salve and bandage, Cliff? Is there an address I can send my application for a free ticket to the game in Vancouver(to be announced today, but I don't have time to wait for the schedule to come out). All the whining aside, I can't wait to see them when they come. I have aquired 3 jerseys since the last time I saw them and may even finish my tattoo(under stipulation of losing weight). The new make up of the team is looking good to me(yes, even Jeff Finger, jerks). Cliff has one more ace up his sleeve, I can feel it. I am one of those that still believe that Sundin may still come back and pad the all-time Leaf stats. Just get him a winger, Cliff, Nik's not ready. And if you don't bring Mats back, give the "C" to Kaberle or Kubina(yes, I like him, he's got a mean streak like Mats). That's all I have to say about that.


Paying Warriors Their Due

In the past, the Leafs have not utilized their minor league veterans for NHL prosperity. As things sit, David Ling had 59 points in 71 games last year and 88 points in 80 games in the 2004-05 season in St. John's. Ling was on a line that season with Kyle Wellwood and helped him to a 87 point season. While it may be beneficial to the younger players on the farm team to have these guys in the minors, what exactly is the trigger to bring them up? Bryan Muir, who was an astounding +23 in 80 games last year, never saw an NHL game. The Leafs had more than one chunk of the season where they were down more than one defenseman in 2007-08. At some point you have to choose whether you are rebuilding or trying to make the playoffs. Every quote I read from Paul Maurice said he was making the playoffs. That means not having a look at a first year NHLer or maybe leaving Colaiacovo in the minors until he proves to be NHL worthy. I'm not knocking Colaiacovo so much as I am saying there are guys who have paid their dues and then some. Give the guys their due(and an NHL paychque or two) .

Holweg Replaces Tucker as Team Pest

Ryan Holweg has replaced half of what Darcy Tucker Brought to the table. Holweg almost exactly matches Tucker's 100 penalty minutes with his 96 PIMs. But Tucker easily trumps Holweg's 4 points with his 34. Now if the Leafs can bring in a 28 goal scorer who can play on the plus side of zero, we will have a complete player. Holweg brings some beef and he's more than willing to drop the gloves. He's another player that brings all 100% every night and isn't afraid to play a little dirty. He'll even take a cross-check in the face for his actions here and there.

I wish Darcy all the best and, like the Ryan Smyth move to Colorado, I'm happy we got his best years before the injury bug took it's toll. Let's sit back and watch to see what Ferguson pulls off next. The 2009 5th round pick from Pittsburgh is actually a pretty small price to pay for a old-time hockey playing brute.


Nieuwendyk Signs As Special Assistant to the GM

One thing is for sure, Joe Nieuwendyk was a hell of a player. He only played one protracted season for the Leafs, but fans hated to see him go. And I, for one, am not impressed that Roberts is still playing and it's not in Toronto(look no further if you are looking for the next TO captain). Thus was the connection between the two. Hopefully Joe can help with all the ridiculousness in the front off(or at least let them know when they're being retarded). I have nothing to go on as to whether Joe has any inkling what to do in a suit. I would be inclined to compare him to Steve Yzerman, and if anything holds true to the comparison, maybe we will see something truly great come of Nieuwendyk in the front office. This may also appear to be a grooming of sorts for Joe to take over next year as GM. I would accept this over the hiring of Brian Burke. But shouldn't they be looking for a true GM. John Ferguson is case in point of trying to groom someone into the job. Especially if they are given "autonomy".


Betting on The Upside

Having just seen the numbers come in for the R.J. Umberger deal all I can say is "Holy Shit". This guy is 26 years old and has scored 49 goals. Now if there was ever a gamble on "upside", this is it(next to the Finger deal, of course). I've always been a fan of looking at things outside of the stats totals. If you watched Umberger pre- and post-concussion you will see that he brings it every shift. He's physical, likes to hit and get hit and doesn't mind smashing his teeth on the odd crossbar. These are some things that translate into thicker contracts. Not necessarily into $3.75 mil/yr, though. Supply-Demand=Million(squared) is a formula I came up with for budding General Managers. Let's see if it makes a difference if anyone tries using it. Oh, I see they are using it for Owen Nolan in the washed out/injury prone category!!!

Matt Stajan Signs Two Year Deal

Good signing for the Leafs and Fletcher. Stajan still has some rounding out to do, but can help on the second line. For you number-crunchers, it was for two years at $1.75 million per year. I'll take Stajjy over Owen Nolan or Todd Bertuzzi (who just signed with Calgary) any day..............

Been A Long Time

Well, Kids, it has been about 4 years since I even attempted any sort of Blogging. I thought, why not get back on the horse with a Blog about my favorite hockey team, the Toronto Maple Leafs. It may be harder for me, being unable to attend games and having to search out any media coverage. But this should be alleviated somewhat by my buying NHL Center Ice this season. This is of course all thanks to my wife's buying me an HD receiver for my birthday to watch the last two rounds of playoffs in Hi-Def. I am sure she will come to regret this decision for years to come.

I'd like to first off give a grand sweeping opinion of Cliff Fletcher; so far so mediocre. He has gotten rid of a fan favorite in Tucker and kept a fan favorite(at least one of mine) in Moore, for very cheap. Jeff Finger was not cheap and I will give that deal until February to see how that comes out in the wash. I like the deal for Niklas Hagman, even for the money, as he's a plugger, has great speed and has a better shooting percentage than Jason Blake. Grabovski could turn out to be a hell of a player. He reminds me of Sergei Berezin, which is a good thing. Hopefully he doesn't go through the cold streaks that Sergei did.

The "Sundin Fiasco" doesn't really bother me that much. Mats has earned the right to do what he's doing right now. It's not like Fletcher is waiting on him, so anyone whining about Sundin not having signed anywhere can officially shut it. Really, it's none of anyone's business what he does, regardless of how long he's been in the league. It's actually one of the things that I admire about Sundin; the fact he couldn't care less what's being written and carries on with life.

Luke Schenn may make the team out of camp. Maybe he could use the wasted roster spot sucked up by Carlo Colaiacovo. Put in 60 contiguous games in the minors and maybe bring Carlo back up after he stays healthy for a while. We need someone big on the blue line knocking forwards on their asses. McCabe hasn't been able to do that consistently since his break out year.

I'm sure I will have more to say in the coming months looking at moves as they happen, but that is all for now. Thanks for reading my innaugual entry and I encourage all input. Good day for the West Coast!