Monthly Archives: December 2011
By: Adam Basciano
The New York Islanders are a mediocre hockey team. Check that, they are a terrible hockey team. Their alternate jersey’s match their play on the ice, and for my money, are one of the ugliest in the NHL. Long story short, on most nights the Maple Leafs should beat the Islanders, and that’s exactly what happened.
Most of the 5-3 win was built in the first period, as the Leafs dominated the opening period. In fact, the Leafs scored three goals in the first 11:15 of the period. Dion Phaneuf and Tim Connolly combined with some beautiful passing to set up Clarke MacArthur for his 10th goal of the year. On the power-play, Mikhail Grabovski and Jake Gardiner set up Nazem Kadri for a beauty of a backhand goal. It was his second of the season, and his second in as many games. Tim Connolly and Clarke MacArthur were at it again, this time setting up a Carl Gunnarsson goal. In the second period, the Islanders cut the Leafs lead to one before Joey Crabb converted a tic-tack-toe 2 on 1 short-handed play, restoring the two goal lead. Once again the team in the ugly uniforms cut the lead to one. The tag-team of Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul delivered the empty-net insurance goal. The goal was Lupul’s 16th goal of the season, and Kessel’s 41st point of the season. James Reimer recorded his 7th win of the season stopping 30 shots.
The Leafs have 40 points heading into the holiday break. They sit 6th in the Eastern Conference, currently holding a playoff spot. That is a Merry Christmas indeed Leafs Nation!
By: Adam Basciano
Before their game against the Buffalo Sabres, the Maple Leafs came off a three game stretch that saw them manage a record of 0 – 2 – 1. Last Friday saw them loose to the Sabres in Buffalo. Despite matching up evenly, and carrying the play 5 on 5, penalty trouble gave the Sabres the 5 – 4 victory in regulation. The very next night, the Leafs returned home to play the Vancouver Canucks. Despite keeping pace with the Canucks for most of the game, they are the better team and it showed. The Leafs got bottled up in their own zone for long stretches of the game, ultimately leading to a 5-3 defeat. Then the L.A. Kings came to town, and thoroughly outplayed the home team. James Reimer’s 40 save performance secured a valuable point, before L.A. skated away with a 3-2 win in a shoot-out.
Things weren’t very festive in Leafs Nation. Colby Armstrong and Philippe Dupuis suffered upper body injuries. As a result Nazem Kadri and Darryl Boyce were called up from the AHL. On the day prior to the rematch with Buffalo, self professed Leafs fan Justin Bieber practiced with the team. Well, the Leafs caught Bieber fever and used it to burn the Buffalo Sabres for a 3-2 win. David Steckel tied the game for the Leafs, and shortly thereafter, as the home crowd (including myself) heckled Ryan Miller, Phil Kessel scored his 20th goal of the season. The lead was short-lived as Buffalo equalized early in the third. Nazem Kadri would make an immediate impact, as he picked a corner and snapped a shot past Ryan “Whiner” Miller. James Reimer solidified the win with yet another 40 save performance.
On a side note, Leafs Nation aren’t the cry-babies other NHL cities make us out to be. We have Canucks fans over indulging in “medicinal” marijuana every decade, destroying their city when their team chokes in the final. Montreal fans are creating an international incident because their interim head coach doesn’t speak french. Do these morons not realize that their captain and owner are American, and probably don’t speak french either? Then their’s Buffalo. Every time one of their players gets hit, they expect the opposing player to get a suspension. When they don’t, they whine from anywhere between a week to a month about it! These are the same hockey markets that make fun of Leaf fans always lamenting over officiating. I think you all need to suck it up, and grow a pair! In sports, sometimes things go your way, sometimes they dont…C’est la vie (hey, even I speak more french than the Habs coach). As for the Sabres, if you really want to whine about something legitimate, tell your millionaire owner Terry Pegula to fix the decrepid streets that people need to take to your arena. I mean seriously, the streets are cracked and lack sidewalks, while bricks are falling off nearby buildings. There’s just a general feeling that one may get mugged going to your arena.
The Leafs head to Long Island to take on the Islanders, in their last game before the Christmas holidays.
By: Adam Basciano
The competition in the NHL these days is closer than its ever been. You simply can’t take any team lightly anymore. Every team will play you hard, right until the final whistles. All of these statements were proven true, during the Toronto Maple Leafs recent game against the Carolina Hurricanes. Carolina sits at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, while the Leafs are currently 6th. You would think given their standings, that it would be an easy two points for the Leafs?
The Blue and White did end up with 2 points but it took overtime to get them. Carolina net-minder Cam Ward was the only reason this game was even close, as he stopped 36 of 38 shots. The Leafs eventually opened the scoring, with just over 4 minutes left in the game. Tim Connolly deflected a Clarke MacArthur shot past Cam Ward. Very shortly after that, Carolina tied the game on a power-play, thanks to former Leaf Alexei “I was useless for a decade in Toronto, and still am” Ponikarovsky. The game went to overtime. Tim Connolly scored his second of the game, thanks to hard work by Joffrey Lupul. A booming slap shot, and relentless puck pressure by Lupul, allowed Connolly to tap home the game winner. Connolly now has 6 goals and 15 points in 18 games this seasons. Although James Reimer wasn’t nearly as busy as Cam Ward, he was reliable once again in net, stopping 18 of 19 shot.
The Maple Leafs will head to Buffalo to play their QEW rivals, before returning home to face the Vancouver Canucks.
By: Adam Basciano
I could write an entire blog about Rogers and Bell joining forces to buy controlling interest in Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. I wont because quite frankly, not much is known about how or if that will have a direct impact on the on ice performance of the team. During and since this scenario the Toronto Maple Leafs played two games, neither of which ended with a winning result.
Both losses can be largely attributed to one major factor…penalty killing. This penalty kill is by far the most consistent at being terrible that I’ve ever seen. The game against the New Jersey Devils saw the Leafs surrender two power play goals, to one of the worst power plays in the NHL. Goals by Phil Kessel (more of a Toronto FC style goal but we’ll take it), and a beauty by Matt “The Graduate” Frattin sent the game into overtime, guaranteeing the Leafs a point. A miscue by Carl Gunnarsson gave David Clarkson his second goal of the game, leading the Devils to a 3-2 victory. In the game in Washington, the Blue and White allowed all four Capitals goals while short-handed. I can tolerate penalties that prevent goals but the ones of the stupid variety, which all four were, those are beyond frustrating. You’d think that a team inept at killing penalties would I don’t know, avoid taking them. The Leafs taking penalties is like a person whose lactose intolerant eating cheese, if they do they’re in for a night full of crap! In the 4-2 loss, Phil Kessel and Cody Franson scored for the Leafs.
The Maple Leafs will look for better results when they face the Eastern Conference basement dwelling Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday.
Remember to vote at MapleLeafs.com
By: Adam Basciano
While the Maple Leafs can’t seem to beat the Boston Bruins, the New York Rangers can’t seem to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs strolled into the Big Apple and took a bite out of New York by a score of 4 -2. It was the Leafs second win at Madison Square Garden this year, making them the only team in the league to beat the Blue – Shirts in their home arena.
The Blue & White dominated the first half of the game, jumping out to a three goal lead. Cody Franson finished off a great passing play from Phil Kessel and John Michael Liles, picking up his second goal of the season. Determination and puck pursuit off of a lost face off by Matt Frattin and Tim Connolly, led to Connolly’s fourth goal of the season. Shortly after that, the power play chimed in as Phil Kessel and Tyler Bozak set up Joffrey Lupul for a one timer, netting him his thirteenth goal on the year. New York answered back with two goals of their own, before The Monster took over. Jonas Gustavsson stopped 30 shots, two key saves coming in the last-minute coming off a mad scramble in front of the Leaf net. David Steckel secured the win with an empty net goal. Dion Phaneuf was channeling his inner Frank Sinatra, as he dropped quite the hit in New York serenading Michael Sauer right to the ice.
The Maple Leafs will head straight back to Toronto to face off against the New Jersey Devils.
By: Adam Basciano
I think it’s safe to speak for all of Leafs Nation in saying, we’ve seen enough of the Boston Bruins to last us an entire season. The recent back to back set with the defending Stanley Cup Champions yielded nothing but defeat. The Leafs fell by scorelines of 6 -3 and 4 – 1. While the score seemed lopsided, the games were anything but. Both games were within reach heading to the third period, as the Leafs trailed by one in both contests. Defensive coverage gone awry, and an incredibly tenacious forecheck by the Bruins ended up derailing the Leafs chances in both games. Goal scorers for the Leafs included Mikhail Grabovski with two, Joffrey Lupul and Matt Frattin. James Reimer returned in net for the Blue and White on Saturday, and despite the loosing cause, made 26 saves.
Loosing two in a row is never easy to swallow, especially when it comes at the hands of a rival in your own division. However, lets remember that the Boston Bruins are the Stanley Cup champions and they’re best team in hockey at the moment. In their last 14 games, the Bruins have a record of 13-0-1. While many feel the Bruins are the hottest thing in Boston right now, they’d be wrong. The hottest thing to ever come out of Boston is actress Elza Dushku! Am I right? Of course I am! admit it, that picture makes you forget the score of the last 2 games doesn’t it? Oh right, back to hockey… The Maple Leafs will look to get back to winning, with back to back games against the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils.