Archive for November, 2011
Wednesday, November 30th, 2011
By: David Alter
The Maple Leafs host the Boston Bruins tonight in the first half of a home-and-home series.
Having won three-in-a-row, the Leafs take on a Bruins team that has outscored them a combined 14-2 in their two previous meetings.
Phil Kessel has been red-hot this season, leading the league in both goals (31) and points (16). However, Kessel has zero points against Boston, while Tyler Seguin has four goals and two assists in the two meetings with the Leafs.
Carl Gunnarsson and David Steckel both took the morning skate although it looks like they will both be gametime decisions. Head Coach Ron Wilson feels optimistic that they will play.
Steckel didn’t take any of the line rushes while Gunnarsson occupied his spot on the top defensive paring. Likely scenario sees Gunnarsson playing with Steckel sitting out. If Steckel does play, Joe Colborne may be the one that gets taken out. That would be unfortunate as Colborne seemed pretty enthusiastic about taking on the team that drafted him.
He has gone 17 games without a goal and if he doesn’t get one tonight he will 0-for the month of November. His time has decreased a little bit, don’t be surprised if you see a change their soon, with Grabovski expected to get more minutes from the 4th line as the game goes along.
Has been skating before practice sessions working on his strength and conditioning over the past couple of days. He is still about 7-10 days away from making a return.
Monday, November 28th, 2011
By: David Alter
ANAHEIM – The Maple Leafs didn’t look like a team that was wrapping up an east-to-west road trip, as Tyler Bozak led the way with a pair of goals in a 5-2 win over the Ducks.
Early on, Anaheim got the upper-hand when former Leaf Francois Beauchemin put a shot from the point past Jonas Gustavsson on the Power-Play to open the scoring.
The Leafs responded quickly though thanks to a Power-Play goal from Tyler Bozak, a play that wouldn’t have been possible if not for an excellent backhand pass from John-Michael Liles and Joffrey Lupul grabbing the second assist.
19 seconds later, the Leafs would grab the lead as Clarke MacArthur would get his ninth goal of the season after putting one in off Luca Sbisa and past Ducks keeper Jonas Hiller.
Joey Crabb scored the lone goal in the second period setting himself up at the net and deflecting a point shot from Luke Schenn.
“I’m just trying to get to the net” said Crabb after the game. “Even if I don’t get a piece of it hopefully I can create a screen and it’s been working out.”
In the third period, Bozak would grab his second of the night, getting his stick on the puck of a juicy rebound from Hiller after Phil Kessel’s initial shot. Lupul grabbed his second assist on that play as well.
“I’m not going to complain I’ll take those goals all year” said Bozak of the second goal. “Whenever things are going well you just have to get to the net when you are getting bounces”
Corey Perry would get one back for the Ducks. But in the final minute, Luke Schenn would ice it with an empty net goal to seal the victory.
Jonas Gustavsson got his fourth win in-a-row making 26 saves in the victory.
“You want to win, every win feels really good and you want to build on that, but I try to look forward and not be too satisfied,” said the Monster. “You just have to keep pushing and that’s for all of us.”
A testament to the depth the Leafs system this season was shown off the get go when Keith Aulie was called-up and was inserted into the lineup in place of Carl Gunnarsson. Aulie played 16:19 in his season debut, most of it with his linemate from last year in Dion Phaneuf.
Head Coach Ron Wilson was especially pleased with the fact that his team has been able to hang onto leads late in games, a category in which they struggled mightily in previous seasons.
“We’re one of the few teams that hasn’t blown a third period lead I believe” said Wilson. “We’re pretty comfortable, we know what we have to going into third periods and we’re getting better at it too.”
The Maple Leafs are 9-0-0 when holding a lead after two periods this season.
Wilson expects both Carl Gunnarsson and David Steckel to return for Wednesday’s game against the Bruins.
Joffrey Lupul finished with two points in his first game against the Ducks since being traded, and now has taken over the leads for most points in the month of November with 18.
“It’s surprises me quite a bit” says Lupul. “I don’t think of myself in that category with the top scorers in the league. I’m confident in my ability and my skill. I’ve got to do lots of other things to have success, go to the net hard, win puck battles, that’s more my game and when I get open ice I can make some plays too.
Leafs take six out of eight points on the road trip, and are back in the division lead tonight with 30 points.
Saturday, November 26th, 2011
By: David Alter.
ANAHEIM — The Maple Leafs practiced at Honda Center ahead of their final game of a four game road trip. Forward David Steckel and defenseman Carl Gunnarson were in attendance but did not step onto the ice, as both await the result of scans of their respective finger injuries.
It’s uncertain if either will play on Sunday. It appears as though the Leafs are preparing to be without Carl Gunnarsson as Keith Aulie was scratched from the Marlies game in St. John’s. The long distance trek that it would take for Aulie to get here in time, means they are preparing to have him make the trip.
Jonas Gustavsson will get nod in goal once again for the Maple Leafs.
Joffrey Lupul takes on his former team for the first time since being traded away. Lupul has made it clear he wasn’t particularly happy with the way he had left but has found his stride with the Maple Leafs. He’s definitely looking at it as more than just a regular game.
Dion Phaneuf and John-Michael Liles also sat out from practice for maintenance days.
Saturday, November 26th, 2011
By: David Alter
In a game that may have very well seen the loss of two more key players, the Toronto Maple Leafs used a short bench to it’s max to beat the Dallas Stars 4-3 in a shoot-out.
With the game tied at two’s David Steckel blocked a shot from Stephane Robidas. Moments later, defenseman Carl Gunnarson took a shot from Sheldon Souray. Both had to leave the game and would not return. Steckel was sporting a bandage over the pinky of his left hand. Wilson provided no update on their status, only to say that they will be re-evaluated.
With Gunnarson out, the Maple Leafs rolled with five defenseman, while mostly using four (Schenn 27:00, Phaneuf 27:09, Liles 24:04 Gardiner 28:34). Wilson had high praise for Schenn in particular saying he thought Schenn had played his best game.
“It’s starting to come” says Schenn. “I felt better here the past couple of weeks. When you start to play a little more you start to get into a rhythm and you don’t think as much and you just go out and play.”
Dion Phaneuf had his shot going, using the point shot to assist on the Leafs first goal after Joey Crabb managed to redirect it. He gave the Leafs their first lead after his shot from the point bounced off Stars goalkeeper Kari Lehtonen and into the net.
“Crabby makes a great play on the first one while Johnny (Liles) holds it enough for the second play” said Phaneuf. “We stuck with it, even with the guys that went down. It was a big character game for us.”
The Monster came up with another big performance making 26 saves and not allowing a goal in the shootout to grab the win.
“I think they changed the gameplan a little bit too” said Gustavsson when Dallas came out attacking in the third period, out-shooting Toronto 14-6 in that frame. “They took a lot of shots from the neutral zone. We worked our way out of it and I’m pleased.”
Jonas Gustavsson now has a 1.62 goals against average and save percentage of 0.949 over the past three games. With numbers like that you have to believe he gets the start against the Ducks on Sunday.
Special Teams again helped the Maple Leafs as they went one-for-four on the power play (Dion Phaneuf’s goal) while going a perfect 4/4 on the PK.
Friday, November 25th, 2011
By: David Alter
The Maple Leafs will go with same lineup tonight as they take on the Stars in their third game of a four-game road trip.
Jonas Gustavsson gets the nod in goal. It will be his third start in the last four games.
Kari Lehtonen counter for the Stars. All 13 Dallas wins this season have come when Lehtonen has been between the pipes for the Stars.
Sheldon Souray has been a big part of Dallas’s resurgence. Putting his past troubles in Edmonton behind him, Souray leads defenseman on his team in points with 13 and goals with four.
The Maple Leafs will not call up anyone to the roster despite the spot open due to Mike Brown being placed on the IR. Ron Wilson expects Mikhail Grabovski could come back on Wednesday following the current road trip to fill the vacant spot.
Wilson also says it’s unlikely that Korbinian Holzer will see any ice-time on this road trip.
Friday, November 25th, 2011
By: David Alter
DALLAS — The Maple Leafs have placed forward Mike Brown on the injured reserve bringing the list of players to six.
Brown was sent home prior to the Leafs practice on Thursday with what the team is saying is a lower-body injury.
“We sent him back to be looked at by our doctors, I’m not sure what the prognosis is right now” said Head Coach Ron Wilson.
Brown has not played since November 15th in Leafs 3-2 shootout loss to Phoenix.
While the extent of the injury is not known, it may have to with a groin injury which began to plague him in the second half of last season. Brown had a procedure during the off-season to treat the injury and he missed a large chunk of training camp to deal with it.
Brown joins Colby Armstrong, Mikhail Grabovski, Mike Komisarek, Matthew Lombardi, James Reimer on the injured list and the active roster is now at 22 players, which means the Leafs have room for another callup.
They will likely not change their roster tonight in Dallas and keep it the way it is. If Darryl Boyce returns to Marlies action successfully from injury over in St. John’s, he’s a good candidate to be called up to play fourth line minutes.
Brown has a goal and two assists with 31 penalty minutes in 18 games this season.
Thursday, November 24th, 2011
By David Alter
DALLAS – James Reimer took part in his first full session of practice with the Maple Leafs. While he felt pretty good afterwards, Ron Wilson says it will be about “ten days or so” before we see Reimer return to the lineup.
While Reimer wants to get in as soon as possible, he recognizes that coming back too early doesn’t do the team any favours.
“When you get back there you wanna be 120%, I want to come in how I left off, not feel my way in for a couple of games. I wanna get back in there and start winning again” says Reimer.
It’s a bit of a surprise given Reimer feels as though he is physically and mentally ready to return in what appears to be a shorter time-frame.
“You know I think for myself I’d like few more practices to make sure” said Reimer. “You know my legs don’t feel too bad out there, I’m not that tired out there, it’s just the overall conditioning. But I feel like a couple more of these practices and I should be fine.”
Perhaps Wilson is buoyed by the fact that both of his goalies have been playing so well as of late, so much that there isn’t a need to rush Reimer along.
Jonas Gustavsson is being rewarded for his excellent play as of late, he will get the start in goal against the Stars, making his first back-to-back starts since October 30th in Ottawa and November 2nd in New Jersey. The Monster has a .971 SV % and 1.00 GAA in his last two starts.
Wilson also says that the days for full practices are minimal given the way their schedule works with game-days and travel days.
Mikhail Grabovski will not make his return on Sunday as Wilson told ‘Brady and Lang’ as a hinted possibility. After practice, Grabovski was evaluated and it’ll be at least a week before he returns to the ice.
Mike Brown has left the team’s road trip and returned back to Toronto to undergo more tests on a lower-body injury, suspected to be a possible recurrence of a groin injury.
Sunday, November 20th, 2011
By: David Alter
Joffrey Lupul had a goal and three assists as the Maple Leafs beat down the Capitals 7-1
Lupul set up the opening goal. He also assisted on goals from Tyler Bozak and Joffrey Lupul.
Lupul is now in tie for third in the scoring lead with 24 points.
“I didn’t guess that in a million years” said Lupul when asked about his spot in the individual point standints. “I felt good and I was confident I was going to have a good year. I didn’t expect to be near the top of the league in goal scoring, hopefully I can stay there.”
Matt Frattin was rewarded with his first NHL goal which after going 17 games without one.
“We didn’t really have too much secondary scoring in the last four games and it kind of hurt us” said Frattin when talking about the lack of production beyond the Kessel line. “Today it looked like everyone was firing so it’s good to see.”
Frattin’s goal came off a brilliant pass from Joe Colborne, who now has two points in two NHL games.
The Monster held the fort making 40 saves for the victory,. This was a game he really needed after being relegated to the backup spot once again as rookie goaltender Ben Scrivens had been given the top job until James Reimer has returned.
“Maybe I mean it’s tough to (evaluate) right away” said Gustavsson when asked if this was the best game he had played this season. “I felt happy with my game tonight, and they guys helped me to play a good game too, hopefully we can keep going like this.”
Gustavsson may not be sure if he played his best, bit it’s hard to argue with the numbers.
Cody Franson scored his first as a Maple Leaf, and it was the first time he could go into knowing he was going to get some everyday action due to the arm injury to Mike Komisarek.
“The more you get going the more you start to feel more confident and more loose” says Franson.
David Steckel wrapped up the scoring for the Leafs, scoring against his former team.
The Maple Leafs scored more goals in a game than any other this season thanks to the top line clicking. Phil Kessel scored his league leading 14th goal of the season and reclaimed the lead for the Art Ross Trophy with 27 points.
Tyler Bozak his second of the season. Tim Connolly did the same.
As good as it was to see the Leafs break out with a dominating performance, what was particularly strange was how infective the Capitals were. A lot of that has to two with Alex Ovechkin, who prior to tonight had been so dominant against the Blue and White.
Ovechkin had 23 goals and 39 points in 23 career games going in. He was hardly a factor, and went pointless against the Leafs for the first time since December 6th 2008.
Saturday, November 19th, 2011
By: David Alter
Joe Colborne will centre the Maple Leafs third line and make his season debut, as they host the Washington Capitals tonight.
Colborne returned from a lower-body injury on Friday night in the Marlies 2-1 victory over the Rochester Americans and will centre a line with Joey Crabb and David Steckel.
Colborne was the AHL’s Player of the Month for October where he gathered 16 points in nine games. Getting cut from camp didn’t damper his spirits.
“Obviously you want to start the year” says Colbourne. “But I said as soon as I got sent down I was going to go down and be the hardest worker and try to work my way back up. So this is a big step and hopefully I can take it from here.
Komisarek Gone 8 Weeks.
After taking a shot off the arm, Mike Komisarek will miss eight week and will require surgery. This opens the door for Cody Franson to play on a regular basis. A defenseman will be called up following today, likely Korbinian Holzer or Keith Aulie.
Matthew Lombardi is still on the three-to-four week range with an upper body injury. Clarke MacArthur will not play tonight. Mike Brown is doubtful.
“Obviously you want to start the year but I said as soon as I got sent down I was going to go down and be the hardest worker and try to work my way back up. So this is a big step and hopefully I can take it from here.
James Reimer spent more time on the ice today and took some shots, looks like he is feeling no ill effects from his on-ice session on Friday, he is 6-9 days from potentially returning at this point.
Friday, November 18th, 2011
By: David Alter
James Reimer skated for the first time since plateauing in his recovery where he was limited to off-ice workouts.
Reimer spent 36 minutes on the ice where he practiced lateral movements with Goalie coach Francois Allaire and Strength/Conditioning coach Anthony Belza.
The Leafs held an optional skate due to their compacted schedule.
“He’s feeling better, he’ll do a little bit more tomorrow” said Wilson of Reimer. “This is a gonna be a process where it’ll take a little bit of time to get hime ready. He hasn’t really done anything in a month so he’s probably fallen off his conditioning. This isn’t like he’s going to practice tomorrow and play on Sunday, he won’t be playing for at least another week to ten days if everything goes smoothly.”
Reimer hasn’t taken part in a practice since October 26th in New York City. He took some light shots during this session but nothing significant.
Komisarek and Lombardi gone for awhile
After both Mike Komisarek and Matthew Lombardi left Thursday’s game in Nashville with upper-body injuries, the news wasn’t good for either player.
“Both are going to miss a minimum of three weeks” says Wilson.
Mikhail Grabovski remains on the IR and will not play on Saturday. Neither will Clarke MacArthur.
“He’s kind of day-to-day, he’s not playing tomorrow and very doubtful for Sunday, we’re hoping he’ll be ready for Tuesday” says Wilson about MacArthur’s status.
The Leafs will keep a close eye on the Marlies game in Rochester to see who is healthy enough to come back. There are several Marlies coming back from injury including AHL player of the month for October: Joe Colborne. Luca Caputi is day-to-day with a hand injury while Darryl Boyce will be back next weekend. Keith Aulie also returns to the lineup tonight.
“More than likely but I won’t say who” says Wilson about making call-ups. “The Marlies are a Toronto team and nobody here knows how many injuries they have down there. We’ve got some guys playing their first game in some time and then we’ll make a decision either tonight or tomorrow as to what we’ll do.”
Mike Brown is day-to-day with an upper-body ailment, explains why he didn’t play on Thursday, he will be evaluated again on Saturday.