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.