Category Archives: Adam The Leaf Guru
By: Adam Basciano
Toronto Maple Leaf Fans who attended the home opener last weekend definitely got their money’s worth, as it took a shootout to find a winner. The game started off great for the home team as Mason Raymond scored a beautiful goal, off of an equally beautiful pass from fellow new Leaf Dave Bolland. The guys with the Trojan Condom logo on their chest scored two goals in just over three minutes time to take the lead. Nazem Kadri would tie the game at 2, late in the first period on a powerplay. His goal was almost a carbon copy of the first Leafs goal. He was even set up by Mason Raymond. Ottawa would take a two goal lead in the second period, with two goals in short order. True, the Leafs play wasn’t great during this stretch, but some of Reimer’s bad habits were creeping back into his game. His rebounds were gargantuan, he didn’t look composed throughout the game, and was far too deep in his net at times. As a result, in came Jonathan Bernier. In short order, he made several big time saves, which seemed to settle down his team. Late in the middle frame, Joffrey Lupul got the Leafs within one on the powerplay, with assists going to previous goal scorers Mason Raymond and Nazem Kadri. Early in the third period, Leaf fans would see a familiar two on one rush with Kessel and van Riemsdyk, resulting in a tap in goal for the man also known as JvR. Overtime would ultimately solve nothing. In the shootout, goals by Raymond and Bozak coupled by a save by Bernier, would lead the Leafs to a come from behind 5-4 win on home ice over their provincial rivals.
The first loss of the season came on home ice, at the hands of the Patrick Roy coached Colorado Avalanche. This was a fairly boring game from a Leafs perspective. It seemed like the only ounce of hard work came on the penalty kill, as well as the Leafs lone goal courtesy of Joffrey Lupul. If it weren’t for the 31 save performance from Jonathan Bernier, the score would’ve been a lot worse as Colorado outplayed us during significant portions of the game. The theme of Jonathan Bernier saving the Leafs ass continued in Nashville, as the Leafs were outshot by a 36-26 count. Yet, Bernier managed to make save after save to keep the game scoreless until after the halfway point of the second period. At that point, the tandem of Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk took over. Kessel converted on a one-timer in front of the net, courtesy of a lovely feed from van Riemsdyk. JvR would then capitalize on a wrap around goal, off of a missed opportunity by Kessel. A check from behind by Mike Fisher on Cody Franson that was as dirty as Miley Cyrus’ twerking incident, put the Leafs on a five-minute powerplay in the third period. The Leafs would score twice, on goals by Tyler Bozak and Joffrey Lupul. Morgan Rielly would get his first NHL point in his 3rd NHL game. Add to that his improved play over each game, his skill, and his speed…he’s making a case that he’s ready for the big leagues. This coupled with a shutout performance, which continues to solidify to me that Bernier is our #1 goalie, and the Maple Leafs register a 4-0 win.
With 4 wins in the bag and 8 out of a possible 10 points registered, the Toronto Maple Leafs face the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday in Toronto on Hockey Night in Canada.
By: Adam Basciano
It has been far too long since we’ve updated. First off, I apologize for that. Several things contributed to the hiatus. Firstly, this little thing called life sometime prevents you from keeping up with all your hobbies and creative outlets. Secondly, the lockout shortened season put a damper on my excitement a little. Then the shock and surprise of making the playoffs took over, and for a little over two weeks, I was in overdrive because of it and couldn’t possibly be coherent enough to put my emotions into word’s. That’s all behind us now. A brand new season is upon us, and we’re back and can’t wait for the regular season to get going!
The Maple Leafs making the playoffs after such a long drought, and pushing a team the quality of the Boston Bruins to the brink of elimination was definitely exhilarating and fun to watch. However, the disappointing, heartbreaking, and tear inducing collapse in the last half of the final period, suggested the team had room to improve. General Manager Dave Nonis took notice, and spent the off-season doing just that. One area the team needed an upgrade was at centre ice. Last season, only Tyler Bozak and Jay McClement had any success at taking and winning a faceoff. To that end, two time Stanley Cup winner Dave Bolland was brought into the fold. His addition not only gives us added strength down the middle, we’ve got a player who has been through the wars of the playoffs, faced every adversity that brings, and succeeded. He’s a smart two-way player who can add 10-15 goals to the offense as well. While we were a tough team last year, when it was all said and done, Boston did have their way with us when it came to puck battles and grittiness in the corners. Enter David Clarkson! He’s fearless, full of energy and as the pre-season showed won’t shy away from defending his teammates! Unfortunately, we’ll be without him for the first 10 games of the year due to suspension. Two season’s ago he had a career high 30 goal season. Can he duplicate that, not sure, but I can see him being in the range of 15-20 goals for sure. The other big off-season acquisition for the Leafs was goaltender Jonathan Bernier. While he played second fiddle in Los Angeles, his numbers were stellar. Everyone who speaks of him says he can be a bona fide #1 goaltender. However, judging by the pre-season, James Reimer isn’t going to roll over and give up the net. Nor should he. Having a healthy competition between two goalies makes both of them better. And it’s paramount to have two guys playing at the top of their game if the team hopes to make the playoffs come April.
Pre-Season is meaningless when it comes to wins and loses but several players used that opportunity to make this team on merit. 19-year-old defender Morgan Rielly showed incredible offensive awareness, good hockey sense, defensive composure and poise earning himself a roster spot. The team will likely use the 8 or 9 games to decide if he can handle the NHL full-time, or be sent back to his junior team. The other standout at training camp for me was Mason Raymond. The former Vancouver Canuck was signed to a professional tryout before playing so well that the team couldn’t afford not to sign him. A solid responsible two-way forward with immense speed and an offensive touch around the net. For the most part, he’ll be a great third line winger, but with the temporary absence of David Clarkson can be an adequate fill in on our top six set of forwards.
Have the Maple Leafs improved their team from last season. Yes, I think so. Making the playoffs will be a difficult task though thanks to divisional realignment, and nearly every team being improved as well. Can Nazem Kadri build on a strong performance in a shortened season? Can Joffrey Lupul stay healthy and continue to be a scoring force on the ice? Can both goalies perform at the level expected of them? Can Dion Phaneuf keep his boneheaded idiotic on ice decisions to a minimum? We know what Phil Kessel will bring. As for the rest, only time and the next 82 games will tell. Do you Be-Leaf? We do…
By: Adam Basciano
I haven’t written a blog in what seems like forever. It’s not because I refuse to write when this team looses, but when they lose 10 of their last 11 games my comments would get redundant. So instead, Ive decide to put all my frustrations in one blog. Hmm…where do I start….
I’ll start with defence. Remember when Luke Schenn was the promising building block on the back-end? The positionally sound, hard-hitting defenceman who had captain potential? What the hell happened to that guy? A contract extension and a big payday, that’s what happened. He’s transformed into Bryan McCabe 2.0! Luke Schenn has probably made more tape to tape passes then other d-man. The only problem, they’ve all been to the wrong team. Ever since scoring on that once in a lifetime end to end rush against Boston, he thinks he’s Bobby Orr. Too bad his foot speed makes The Matrix bullet time slow-motion effect look like fast forward. Then there’s Dion Phaneuf. Sure he makes the big hits, but at the moment that’s about it! When it comes to defensive zone coverage, he looks lost. In his own end he looks like a confused dog, unsure whether it should first piss on a fire hydrant of shit on the front lawn.
On to the goaltending. Reimer had a great run last season, while Gustavsson….well, the only thing he had was a massive catalogue of ABBA songs on his I-Pod! Brian Burke’s answer to two young goalies was the “great” goalie coach Francois Allaire. His famous “butterfly” style was made famous by Patrick Roy. Wow! Am I supposed to be impressed. What worked for Patrick Roy in the 80’s/90’s doesn’t work in 2012. You see, there’s this little thing called video that players and coaches study. That video shows that butterfly goalies have a tendency to go down on their knees rather quickly. Players either score by puting the puck over a goalies shoulder, or between their legs. Surprise, that accounts for many of the goals scored on the Leafs goaltending tandem. Sure they’ve both had solid stretches, but inconsistency has plagued them. Let’s see, they go down easy, are on their knees a lot, and get scored on between their legs. These guys sound a hell of a lot like prostitutes instead of NHL goalies if you ask me. Way to go Allaire!
This brings me to the aspect of this team that annoys me the most, the coach Ron Wilson! Have you ever heard this guy in his interviews? He comes off as one of the most arrogant, pompous @$$holes in the NHL. My question is why? Has he ever won a Stanley Cup? The answer is a big fat no! In fact, throughout his tenure in San Jose, his team has had great regular seasons, but choked in the playoffs! Some will argue that the coach can’t be blamed because the coach can’t go on the ice and play the game for the players. That’s true, but the coach and his staff are responsible for implementing the systems he wants the team to play. It also falls on the coach, to maintain the players focus and motivate them when their struggling. In case you’re wondering, no I don’t believe the different strategies in the game plan are the problem. How do I know? It’s simple, all you have to do is look at the AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies. Under the coaching of Dallas Eakins, they are second overall in their conference, have one of the best penalty kills in the AHL, and are solid on the power play. The Leafs with Ron Wilson are 29th in penalty kill, and have a horrendously inconsistent power play. Even more frustrating, is Wilson’s lack of emotion behind the bench. He’s so blase and nonchalant. He claims he doesn’t want to “crack the whip” on such a young team, but has no problem pointing the finger of blame on particular players in his post game press-conferences. No coach, that’s not contradictory at all! The only reason Ron Wilson still has a job is because his best friend is in charge.
There will come a time when even his friend can’t save him. With the Leafs loosing 10 out of their last 11 games, that time is now. 20,000 people chanting “FIRE WILSON” can’t be wrong. The time has come to fire Ron Wilson.
By: Adam Basciano
The Edmonton Oilers are a lowly team in the Western Conference standings. Aside from their wealth of young skilled forwards, their defense and goaltending is severely lacking. The Toronto Maple Leafs exploited that on their way to a 6-3 win.
The Leafs top two lines were all over the score-sheet in this game. Kessel had two goals and one assist. Clarke MacArthur had a goal and an assist, while Mikhail Grabovski had two helpers. Joffrey Lupul and Tyler Bozak got a goal each, with Jake Gardiner getting his second goal of the season. While James Reimer’s shutout streak ended early, he made several key saves throughout the game, on his way to a 27 save performance. Reimer now has 10 wins on the season.
The Maple Leafs don’t have much time to enjoy this success, because in less than 24 hours they will play the Winnipeg Jets.
By: Adam Basciano
Coming out of the All-Star break the Maple Leafs were faced with a home and home series with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and a rivalry game with the Ottawa Senators.
Despite surrendering a three goal lead in the third period, and loosing in a shootout, the Leafs managed to squeeze a point out of Pittsburgh. That sole point in the 5-4 loss can be attributed to Mikhail Grabovski’s three-point night. Less than twenty-four hours later Grabovski was at it again, setting up Clarke MacArthur’s game winning goal. The goal happened to be the only one of the game, as James Reimer returned to the net stopping all 25 Penguins shots, for a 1-0 win.
One week after being serenaded by a chorus of boo’s from the idiots in Ottawa at the All Star Game, Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul, and Dion Phaneuf returned to the scene of that farce of a game. These three were integral parts of the 5-0 beating laid on the Senators. In any other scenario, this beat-down would get someone arrested. Just ask Chris Brown, he knows all about that. Phil Kessel had three points, a goal and two assists, as did Tyler Bozak. Joffrey Lupul got two assists, giving him a career high of 53 points in a season. Dion Phaneuf, Luke Schenn, and Cody Franson all contributed goals from the defensive end. The Leafs went 2/4 on the power play, and were perfect on penalty kill once again. They remain perfect on the penalty kill in 2012. James Reimer was the star of the game, making 49 saves for his second consecutive shutout. After his injury, it seems that Optimus Reim is back on form! PS: Wasn’t it great hearing the bald Krusty the Clown, a.k.a. ABBA’s lead singer, a.k.a. Daniela Alfredsson get booed in his home arena!?
The Toronto Maple Leafs are back in action Monday, when they face Sam Gagner and the rest of those guys on that team!
By: Adam Basciano
The Maple Leafs swept the home and home series with the New York Islanders, with a 4-3 overtime win on Long Island.
Unlike last game, the Leafs were unable to keep John Tavares off the score sheet. He scored in the first two minutes of the game. In fact, the Islanders made it a two goal lead, before the Leafs answered with a goal from Clarke MacArthur in the late stages of the second period. In the first two minutes of the third period, Jake Gardiner scored his first NHL goal to tie the game. Then with just over three minutes to go, a Mikhail Grabovski shot took a strange bounce and dropped into the net. Another strange bounce, this time off the boards, allowed the Islanders to tie the game with thirteen seconds left. Despite the set back Clarke MacArthur would score his second of the game, giving the Leafs the win. Even with MacArthur’s two goal night, tonight was “The Grabo Show”. Mikhail Grabovski had a goal and three assists for a four point night. While he won’t be in Ottawa Sunday night, in this game he was an All – Star.
What was with all the early/late period goals, and lucky bounces in this game? Was there a full moon or something? While Kessel, Lupul, and Phaneuf display their skills at the All Star Game, the rest of the team will enjoy a week off.
By: Adam Basciano
There is no doubt that Saturday’s loss to Montreal was disappointing. Lack of net presence and an overall lack of energy put the Leafs on the loosing end of a 3-1 game. That made this game against the New York Islanders all that more important.
While the Islanders have been the laughing-stock of the NHL for the last couple of years, they’ve been playing good hockey of late. They’ve won three straight games, with their top line heating up. That didn’t matter as the Maple Leafs kept Gilligan, (John Tavares) the Skipper (Matt Moulson), and the rest of the crew stranded with a 3-0 win! The Blue & White dominated this game from start to finish, out shooting the Islanders 35 -25. Forget Johnny Lombardi, the Italian star of Toronto is Matthew Lombardi! He scored two goals, adding to a streak that has seen him score four goals in the last five games. He now has 6 on the year. Phil Kessel tapped home a Joffrey Lupul rebound for his 26th goal of the season. Jonas Gustavsson recorded his third shut-out in the month of January. His best save came in the second period. A split-second pad save that preserved the Leaf lead, one they would never relinquish.
The Maple Leaf will hope for some deja-vu as they face the Islanders again, in the second half of this home and home series.
By: Adam Basciano
The Maple Leafs started 2012 undefeated, winning four straight. Then they went in a downward spiral losing three in a row. Tonight the roller-coaster started to climb back up, as the Leafs beat the Minnesota Wild.
The losses came at the hands of the Buffalo Sabres, New York Rangers, and Ottawa Senators. What’s upsetting is that the Leafs could have won two out of those three games. A slow start and a couple of bad bounces, cost the Leafs a win, in a game they dominated. Saturday night was a completely different story, as the Leafs got completely out-shot and shut-out by the Eastern Conference leading New York Rangers. I was at the game against the Ottawa Senators. This was another case of the Leafs thoroughly out playing the Sens. A goal for Ottawa that should have been disallowed due to goaltender interference, and exceptional goaltending from Craig Anderson cost the Leafs 2 points. As a result, Ron Wilson separated Lupul and Kessel. In part to have a more balanced attack, and in part, to improve our star players defensive game. The separation didn’t hinder the duo’s offensive ability, as Kessel scored his 25th goal of the season. Lupul was the star of the game with 3 assists. In addition to Kessel, Nazem Kadri, Joey Crabb, and Mikhail Grabovski all scored in the 4-1 Leaf win. Jonas Gustavsson made 20 saves.
The Maple Leafs will next face their forever rivals, the Anglophobia inclined Montreal Canadiens.
By: Adam Basciano
This game marked the first of a home and home series with divisional rivals, the Buffalo Sabres. Starting off with a win was of paramount importance, because in doing so, the Maple Leafs would not only put Buffalo further behind them, but would also move up in the standings. That’s exactly what happened, as the Blue & White shut-out the Sabres 2-0. In doing so, the Maple Leafs are 8 points ahead of the Sabres, and have moved into 6th in the Eastern Conference. Oh and for good measure, the Leafs have won four games in a row, remaining un-defeated in 2012.
All the scoring in this contest took place in the first period. Nikolai Kulemin scored his 5th goal of the season on the power-play, and then added an assist on Mikhail Grabovski’s 13th goal of the season. After that Buffalo got Monster Mashed by Jonas Gustavsson, and fell victim to a defensive clinic put on by the Maple Leafs. Jonas Gustavsson was like a college student during Spring Break, flashing onlookers left, right, and centre. Instead of flashing skin, Gustavsson was flashing some glove, blocker, and pads, en route to a 32 save shut-out. Late in the game, the Sabres started cherry picking at centre ice, but the Leafs had that covered. When Buffalo realized they couldn’t score, their resident $hi+ Head Patrick Kaleta, started taking cheap shots at our best players. Nikolai Kulemin put a stop to that, as he flattened Kaleta with a huge hit in the third period. Overall, the Leafs played their most intelligent game of the season in all areas of the ice.
The Maple Leafs have a few days off, before heading to Buffalo to complete the back-to-back set on Friday.
By: Adam Basciano
Any time the Toronto Maple Leafs have played the Detroit Red Wings over the past couple of years, it’s natural for Leaf fans to be pessimistic. Expect a loss, and hope for a win. Well, tonight the unexpected happened. the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Red Wings 4-3.
The Blue and White got off to a fast and furious start, scoring three goals in the first period. Phil Kessel scored his 24th goal of the season, converting on a penalty-shot. If Drake was in the building he’d be saying; “oh you fancy huh” to Kessel! That’s how pretty those moves were. Shortly there after, Dion Phaneuf was doing his impression of MC Hammer. It was Hammer Time, as Phaneuf blasted a shot past Jimmy Howard on the power play. Switch your playlist to some Salt N’ Pepa, and Let’s Talk About Stecks. David Steckel scored his 7th goal of the year, to give the Maple Leafs a commanding lead after one period.
Was I ecstatic? Damn straight! Still a part of me said uh oh. Look Detroit may be an aging team. Heck, their team age makes Betty White look like a spring chicken! However, they’re a power-house of a hockey team and are more than capable of making a come back. That’s exactly what they did, scoring two goals in the second period, while limiting the Leafs to just two shots. They would tie the game fairly early in the third, before Joffrey Lupul would capitalize on a rare Detroit mistake. Lupul scored his 19th goal of the season. Then Jonas Gustavsson took over, making miraculous saves. Actually, he did that all game, with his best save of the game coming very late. With just 50 seconds left in the game, Gustavsson would stop his countryman point-blank. No I don’t remember which one, 2/3 of that team is Swedish. The Monster would stop 37 shots, for the teams third consecutive win.
The Maple Leafs next action is Tuesday night, when the Buffalo Sabres are in town.