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Leafs Improve To 4W-1L After Latest 3 Game Stretch

By: Adam Basciano

Mason Raymond Spin O Rama

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.

Leafs Vs Avalanche

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.

Bernier Blanks Nashville

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.

Hockey Is Back & So Are We!

By: Adam Basciano

Leafs vs Sabres Brawl

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!

Dave Bolland

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.

Jonathan Bernier

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.

David Clarkson

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…