Archive for October, 2011
Saturday, October 22nd, 2011
By: David Alter
MONTREAL — The Maple Leafs look to bounce back following their first regulation loss of the season as they take on the Montreal Canadiens tonight at Bell Centre.
Tyler Bozak left the morning skate early as he continues to recover from taking a shot off his foot in Boston. Clarke MacArthur is also a game-time decision, but Head Coach Ron Wilson indicated that MacArthur is more likely to play tonight than Bozak is.
This means we could very well see Montreal native Matthew Lombardi playing alongside Joffrey Lupul and Phil Kessel tonight, a spot that should give him a lot of confidence.
Tim Connolly skated harder during the morning skate. He will not play but it’s looking like he could make his return as soon as Monday night in Philly or likely Thursday in New York.
Projected Lines Tonight:
Joffrey Lupul-Matthew Lombardi-Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur-Mikhail Grabovski-Nik Kulemin
Nazem Kadri- David Steckel – Matt Frattin
Jay Rosehill – Philippe Dupuis – Mike Brown
Dion Phaneuf – Carl Gunnarsson
Luke Schenn – Jake Gardiner
John-Michael Liles – Mike Komisarek
The Canadiens are reeling after a 1-4-1 start. Former Maple Leaf Hal Gill will be honoured during the pregame having just completed his 1000th NHL game. Richmond Hill native Mike Cammalleri will play in career game number 500 tonight.
Thursday, October 20th, 2011
By: David Alter
Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul continue to shine for the Maple Leafs. Kessel had a goal and two assists, while Lupul scored twice as well as scoring in the shootout to lift the Toronto Maple leafs to a come-from-behind 4-3 victory over the Winnipeg Jets.
Kessel now has seven goals and 12 points to lead the NHL in both statistical categories.
“I think we’re going pretty good right now” said Kessel when talking about not only his performance but his entire forward line of Joffrey Lupul and Tyler Bozak. “We’re clicking we’re finding each other out there, hopefully it keeps going.”
Lupul scored twice in the game and added one in the shootout as well. The Leafs found themselves in a 3-1 deficit going into the third period when the previously struggling power-play managed to start producing, scoring two goals just 27 seconds apart.
“We came back with a good effort in the third period” says Lupul. That was the way we had to get it done tonight and credit to us for getting it done.
Armstrong hurt, MacArthur too
Colby Armstrong hurt his leg about three minutes into the game and did not return. Clarke MacArthur was banged up in third period. Armstrong will not play when the Maple Leafs visit the Bruins and could miss the entire trip as he was seen with crutches immediately following the injury. This could open the door for Nazem Kadri who was originally going to open the season with the Marlies.
“The plan was to go down and get himself in playing shape. He hasn’t played in three or three-and-a-half weeks” said Head Coach Ron Wilson regarding Kadri. At the end of the day he could end up coming on the trip with us anyway if we’ve got some injuries.”
Matt Frattin will be moved up to play along Mikhail Grabovski and Nik Kulemin, much like he did in the first pair of games. The injury to Armstrong allows for Wilson to completely blow up the line. Imagine MacArthur-Lombardi-Kadri? If MacArhur can’t go, then what?
Schenn, Komisarek regressing?
Both defenseman had solid starts to the season, but lately both have been on the decline. Schenn’s time had decreased modestly, but being utilized for just under 12 minutes in the latest game is cause for concern.
“We were stuck in our zone bobbling pucks trying to do too much instead of instead of simplifying the game and then I had to find ways to get other guys out there” says Wilson. “I think Dion (Phaneuf) played well getting the puck out of danger and obviously Jake Gardiner was on top of his game. The other four defenseman we’re having trouble moving the puck, at the end of the day, that’s what it is.”
Expect to see Cody Franson and Jake Gardiner both be in the lineup where a decision will have to be made. This could be the game we see Mike Komisarek become a scratch and Franson can play his natural position at right defense. If Schenn has another game like he did last night, they may give him a rest at some point as well, but that isn’t as likely as Komisarek, who Wilson categorized his performance as a “struggle.”
Wednesday, October 19th, 2011
By: David Alter
James Reimer will make his fifth consecutive start to open the regular season as the Maple Leafs host the ‘new’ Winnipeg Jets.
Reimer, a Manitoba native, has a few memories of the ‘old’ Jets team. “I remember watching the game, being a goal I was watching Khabibulin warm up but other than that I can’t remember too much” says Reimer who remembers what it felt like when the Jets first left Manitoba. “I was pretty choked, it was a pretty sad for me and sad for my siblings.”
With Reimer getting the start against the Jets, Jonas Gustavsson will make his debut against the Boston Bruins the following night.
Gardiner Back In -> Franson Out
After sitting out the first pair of games, Jake Gardiner will be inserted back into the lineup tonight while Cody Franson will once again be a healthy scratch.
“I think that happens as a young guy. It’s my first year in the league and I kind of expected that” says Gardiner about his time up in the press box. “We have so many good defenseman here, everyone of them can play in the NHL and everyone knows that. It’s nice to have competition, Cody and I have been battling for a spot here and we’ve been supporting each other so I think it’s good for one another.”
Lines for tonight:
Monday, October 17th, 2011
By: David Alter.
James Reimer gave up a pair of goals in regulation time that he would have liked to have back. But when it was all said and done the Maple Leafs weren’t good enough, falling 3-2 in OT.
“Just a frustrating loss, I think we deserved a much better fate today” says Reimer who made 21 saves. “It’s frustrating on my part because I feel like I should have some of those shots, not to say they were terrible goals but they were stoppable. It’s frustrating on my part because that always rattles me.”
Reimer let in a pair of goals in regulation that went through his legs. The second goal by Milan Hejduk appeared to have been a screen. But Reimer did admit he had a view of that one as well.
“I dwell on it for an hour or two, go over it in my head and beat myself up in the head” said Reimer when asked about how to put this performance behind him. “Tomorrow morning it’s like it never happened, I’ll go back to work and practice hard and it will be gone.”
The Maple Leafs salvaged a point after trailing 2-1 with 4:43 to go in regulation when Nik Kulemin scored the equalizer.
David Jones would score his fourth of the season in overtime for Colorado.
The Maple Leafs struggled to get anything going with their powerplay for the second game in-a-row. Head Coach Ron Wilson tried different defensive pairings throughout but says his players aren’t shooting when they are supposed to and it’s still bit of a work in progress.
Tyler Bozak struggled in the third period going just 1-for-8 in the faceoff circle. That prompted Head Coach Ron Wilson to rotate David Steckel and Matthew Lombard which forced more offensive opportunities in the Avalanche zone.
Phil Kessel scored the Maple Leafs first goal of the game, he now has six goals and three assists in four games.
With back-to-back games coming on Wednesday and Thursday against the Jets and Bruins, expect Jonas Gustavsson to make his season debut in one of those (likely the former.)
Monday, October 17th, 2011
By: David Alter
No lineup changes for the Maple Leafs tonight who take on the Colorado Avalanche tonight at Air Canada Centre.
J.S. Giguere makes his return. He take on the Leafs for the first time since signing with Colorado in the off-season.
“The playing wise wasn’t what I wanted” said Giguere who managed to play only 48 games through 1.5 seasons due to injury and the emergence of James Reimer. “The organization was good to me so only positive things.”
When Reimer emerged as the Leafs #1 netminder, he credited Giguere with his success as a mentor role. The Leafs were impressed with Giguere’s professionalism that they had contemplated bringing him back as a backup.
“Giggy was a great guy and goaltender” said Reimer. What I learned from him was pretty much everything. There are little tidbits of information or advice I picked up from him in every part of the game from on the ice, technical, mental side, work ethic, nutrition,, you name it. Him being around the last year, I’m forever indebted for what he did for me.”
John-Michael Liles and Philippe Dupuis taking on the Avalanche for the first time since departing for Toronto.
Phil Kessel is the NHL’s first start of the week, compiling five goals and three asssists in three games.
Saturday, October 15th, 2011
By: David Alter.
Phil Kessel scored twice to help the Maple Leafs eliminate an early 2-0 deficit en route to a 3-2 victory over the Calgary Flames.
The Maple Leafs had a bad stretch early in the first period where Curtis Glencross and Scott Hannan scored 1:22 apart to give the Flames an early 2-0 edge.
“We battled back. “I thought we played decent in the first period, we had a little lapse there but I thought it was ok” said Kessel, who’d go on to score twice. “We just battled right back”
Kessel assisted on the first Leaf goal early in the second period when Joffrey Lupul buried one just 1:15 in. He’d then go onto score one of the better goals anyone will see, taking it by himself from centre ice and lifting it top shelf past Miikka Kiprusoff. Kessel capped it with the game winner in the third period.
James Reimer recovered from a shaky start where he gave up the first two goals on just four shots. He’d make every save after that including a stop off Rene Bourque in the dying seconds while the Maple Leafs ended the game shorthanded.
“I think I just closed my eyes and screamed for it” Reimer joked about the last save he made. “He ended up dishing it, I guess put my glove on it, I wasn’t even sure it was going in or not, lucky enough it didn’t go in.”
Cody Franson assisted on the game-winner grabbing his first point as a Maple Leaf. Wilson stated the previous day that Franson had put some pressure on himself with the talking he’d been doing leading up to this game. “I think I had a pretty decent game, I’m not going home upset with myself.” said Franson when asked if he felt he played well enough to stay in the lineup.
Note: David Steckel, a perfect 7/7 in faceoff draws, particular while the Leafs were shorthanded in that stretch. Steckel’s effect on the team came through in that frame. Clark MacArthur was a -1 in his season debut with 14:29 of ice time. Kessel now has five goals and three assists in the first three games. He was one goal shy of a back-to-back hat-trick, the last Leaf to ever complete that feat was Wendel Clark back in 1994. Tyler Bozak had two assists and overall was actually more effective in faceoffs than Steckel on this night.
Friday, October 14th, 2011
By: David Alter
Ron Wilson had some advice for defenseman Cody Franson,who will make his season debut against the Calgary Flames tomorrow night.
“He’s going to play the next game and the rest is up to him” said Wilson. “He put a lot of pressure on himself talking (to the media) this week so now he has to perform.”
3:13-3:20 about Franson.
Cody Franson was vocal about not playing. What really bothered him was how he found out about sitting out the first two games by watching a video of a Wilson scrum similar to this one. Clearly, Wilson didn’t really appreciate the comments.
Tim Connolly missed practice again, he will not play. It’s still not clear as to who comes out of the lineup in place of Franson, but based on the minutes, expect it to be Jake Gardiner.
Projected forward lines against Calgary.
Franson-Komisarek (Gardiner Likely Sitting)
Thursday, October 13th, 2011
By: David Alter
Tim Connolly has virtually ruled himself out of being able to play this Saturday when the Maple Leafs host the Calgary Flames.
“It’s been day-to-day for awhile but it’s a little more significant than originally expected” said Connolly. “Originally, we thought it was going to be day-to-day but obviously it’s been a lot longer.”
It’s suspected to be a shoulder injury after Connolly went flying into the boards during the final week of training camp.
“I know there was some speculation that it was head or neck but it’s not that at all. I don’t want to get too specific into of the injury because when I eventually do get back, I don’t want to have people target the area.”
Connolly dismissed any notion that surgery would be an option. He’s been skating but coming off practice between 15-30 minutes into each session just getting up to speed. “For me personally I have to keep my condition level up and keep skating. As far as my upper body, I have to give it time to heel now. It’s kind of a waiting game until I’m healed up, that way I can’t re-injure myself. Right now I feel conditioning wise, I haven’t really lost much, we still have 80 games left, I don’t really know if it’s day-to-day now, it could be longer, I can’t really speculate.”
Wilson refused to elaborate on the extent of Connolly’s injury.
“It depends on the days. Are days on Mars longer in terms of hours? As far as I’m concerned, he’s day to day,” Wilson said. “When he’s ready to play, we’ll let you know.”
Kadri Still On The Mend
While it looked like Nazem Kadri would be healthy enough to return in-time for the weekend, it’s looking like he’ll need a few more days before he’s 100%. “As of right now I’d list it as day-to-day but every single day it seems to get better. Hopefully within the next week it should be 100%, it’s just a tricky thing with an MCL.” When Kadri gets full clearance, it’s expected he’ll suit up for the Marlies.
Steckel reacts to Crosby News
It looks like David Steckel could soon be done hearing the questions about his hit on Sidney Crosby with news that he has been cleared for contact. “I’m happy he’s back, I’m sure it hasn’t been easy for him” says Steckel. “There’s nothing to put behind (me) you know it was accidental. I feel bad that he was hurt and that he was out but it’s not like I’m going to move on with my life, it has been going on here.
Tuesday, October 11th, 2011
By: David Alter
TRENTON — The Maple Leafs have some roster decisions they have to make leading up to their next home game on Saturday against the Calgary Flames.
Clarke MacArthur returned to practice after missing Monday’s session due to an infection in his elbow.
“I cut it like two weeks ago in the first preseason game where I fell and it kind of got infected a couple of days ago” said MacArthur. “We’ve got it under control and now I’m just trying to get the legs under me here.”
MacArthur missed the first two games of the season due to a suspension on a questionable head-shot hit to Justin Abdelkader of the Detroit Red Wings.
“It’s been tough, I don’t know what it is by watching games, you just want to be out there, but at the same time, great job by us, 2-0 (record) it takes the pressure off.’”
MacArthur will be good to go for Saturday. He is taking anti-biotics and has a new set of equipment to ward off any re-occurrence of the infection.
Kadri likely to start with Marlies
Nazem Kadri continues to skate hard at practice, place on an extras line after Clarke MacArthur’s return. Last week, Head Coach Ron Wilson hinted that Kadri would be better served to get some games with the Marlies to get some game speed. Being placed on a line with extras indicates that he will be sent down by the end of the week.
“I think I’d be pretty comfortable here” said Kadri, who made it clear he’d rather not be sent down, even if it were only for conditioning. “I think these skates are pretty intense, it’s always nice to be around the guys, it makes you feel more comfortable. Whatever is decided is decided but I think I’m ok here.”
The Maple Leafs have been happy with Matt Frattin’s play. Frattin has been placed on a line with Matthew Lombardi and Colby Armstrong over the past few days. That looks like the Maple Leafs new third line going into Saturday, making Kadri expendable.
Franson to make debut
Wilson indicated Cody Franson would “most likely” make his debut this Saturday. Now comes the debate as to who we would see him replace. The top candidates include Jake Gardiner, Mike Komisarek and Carl Gunnarsson.
It’d be hard to believe Gunnarsson would be taken away from Phaneuf this early. Both Gardiner and Komisarek were a -2 in that 6-5 Leafs win where the Senators caught up in a hurry. Komisarek has stood out a little more, but he is also the only right-handed shot of the defensive candidates (the ideal spot for Franson to play). Gardiner has averaged the fewest amount of minutes.
Saturday, October 8th, 2011
By: David Alter.
Leafs 6 Senators 5
For about 50 minutes the Maple Leafs completely dominated a Senators team that looked as bad as their expansion 91-92 team they have been commemorating.
With a 5-1 lead midway through the third period, Ottawa battled back with three goals in the span of 4:40 to cut Maple Leafs lead down to a goal.
Phil Kessel ended up being the difference maker getting a hat trick, his third goal winding up to be the eventual game winner.
“Feels good, most important thing is we battled and got a win.” said Kessel. That’s not the way we want to play, only our second game of the season so we can only get better.”
The Senators brought it back to within a goal with under two minutes to go, when Stephane Da Costa buried one past James Reimer to make it 6-5. Kessel was then rewarded by Head Coach Ron Wilson, playing in the final portion with the Sens using an extra attacker.
“He did an outstanding job. I put him out there probably everyone questioning my sanity but I rewarded him for his three goals” says Wilson. “He worked and he showed a lot of determination in that situation so it was great for Phil, great for his confidence.”
The entire second line of Kessel, Tyler Bozak and Joffrey Lupul combined for four goals and four assists.
James Reimer collected his second win of the season. After two periods, it was looking like Reimer was going to be the first Leaf netminder to start a season with two shutouts since 1930-31. Reimer never expected the kind of onslaught that followed from Ottawa.
“I’m kind of hoping it was all a dream and I’m going to wake up soon and go out there for the third (period)” said Reimer. “The fans got their money’s worth and we got the two points, sometimes there are games like that.”
Reimer played 101 minutes and 42 seconds of shutout hockey before conceding the first goal.
Not only did the Maple Leafs get more contribution from Dion Phaneuf by way of an assist and a +2 on the night, but he also delivered probably the biggest hit you can deliver that wouldn’t come with any fine or suspension, leveling Stephane Da Costa in the neutral zone.
“The one thing that bugs me is when you make a clean hit, guys come in and expect you to fight” said Phaneuf after his hit caused Chris Neil to pick a fight with Luke Schenn shortly afterwards. “I don’t have anything to prove to them, I’m going to play the style that I play. That’s the one thing I don’t understand.”
Note: Colton Orr scored a goal in his first game since returning from a concussion which kept him out since January.