Saturday, October 27, 2012

Lucky five for the Marlies

#17 Brendan Gallagher and Marlies goalie Ben Scrivens as the Hamilton Bulldogs 
take on the Toronto Marlies in AHL play at Copps Coliseum. 
Kaz Novak/The Hamilton Spectator

The Toronto Marlies are 3-2-1 in 6 games played, after beating the Hamilton Bulldogs last night in overtime 5-4.

The game is the first of 8 that will have the Marlies away from the Ricoh Coliseum for nearly three weeks. The contest started off strong for the baby Leafs scoring just after the five minute mark of the first period. That was where the difference between the two teams stopped, as Hamilton matched Toronto goal for goal leading up to the eventual five minute overtime. Carter Ashton had the Marlies' first goal of the game and stood as his first of the season. Blunden scored the Bulldogs first goal just 19 seconds later to tie the game.

The second period would see six different goals scored starting with the Leafs star d-man Jake Gardiner for his third goal of the season off a pass from Aucoin. Hamilton would respond three minutes later from Gallagher's first goal of the season on the power play to tie the game at two. St. Denis would put the Bulldogs ahead for the first time in the game with his first of the year to make it 3-2.

Marlies' young gun Greg McKegg would then score his second goal of the season on the power play to tie the game up again at three. The score would remain until the end of the second as the Marlies were looking for a more disciplined period for the final 20 minutes.

The Marlies came out strong in the third scoring again just after the five minute mark off a pretty pass and play from Nazem Kadri. The Bulldogs would tie it up for the final time on Dumont's second goal of the season. Mark Fraser toook a hooking penalty with five seconds left in regulation time putting the Marlies in a difficult position going into overtime. Toronto did score off a scramble tap in from Joe Colborne with 0.4 seconds left in the period that was waved off because the referee did not see the puck.

Ater killing off the penalty Simon Gysbers scored with just 50 seconds left in the game to give the Toronto Marlies the 5-4 victory.

With as close as the game was, winning in overtime after being able to escape the penally kill without a goal against is important for the Toronto club going forward.

"I thought it was one of those roller coaster games, up and down, and pretty evenly matched all night. Winning that game after having to kill that penalty in overtime is a huge building block for our season," said head coach Dalles Eakins.

The Marlies will be off for another week as they prepare to visit the Abbotsford Heat for a weekend back to back.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Eight down the middle spells more moves


    Assuming a CBA agreement is reached between the NHL and its players before this September, there will be hockey by October. Thus comes a chance for the Maple Leafs to accomplish a task they haven't been able to for about eight and a half calendar years now; make the NHL playoffs.

    With the daunting task of improving the team, Brian Burke has had little success in accomplishing what he set out to do since free agency began 10 days ago. Burke has stated countless times throughout the years that his trade deadline is actually July 1. Now with three months to go until a potential new season, where do the Leafs need to improve?

    Well, if the Leafs want to make the playoffs, a goaltender has to be on his list of acquisitions. As much as the fans and media want to believe that James Reimer and Ben Scrivens can be the tandem to take them to the eighth spot or better, being young and inexperienced, it seems unlikely. If Brian Burke thinks he is fooling either group, then he greatly underestimates the expectations of the people of Toronto that have been waiting for success for nearly a decade.

    There is no easy way to address the teams needs this offseason as free agency is light on talent and the trade market will likely entail depleting the prospect depth of the organization. Yet there may be a few moves that Burke could consider involving both of those avenues of transaction. So in come the rampant rumours of Roberto Luongo's desire to want to move on from the Vancouver Canucks and the possibility of the Leafs landing him. Although I believe that having Luongo as the starting goaltender of the Leafs would almost certainly guarantee them a playoff spot, I just cannot fathom what that contract could mean to the future development of any goalie in the system for the next six years.

    There is no doubt that James Reimer is not a a true number one goalie ight now but he has shown stints of excellence during his time with the team. If Luongo comes to Toronto you may see a potential starting goaltender that is about 10 years younger wasting away as the back-up. This would mean he would likely ask for a trade and hurt the Leafs down the road by eliminating them from the playoffs. Ok, maybe I'm getting ahead of myself here but it makes sense doesn't it? How many times has the Leafs traded away a potential star prospect for a supposed true star player only to have the player they traded away have more success then the entire franchise? Tuukaa Rask anyone? So the suggested move I'm proposing regarding goaltending is to stand pat. I realize that this doesn't get the team to the playoffs any quicker but may actually benefit the organization in the long run.
    At the forward position things are getting a little crowded to say the least. With the signing of Jay McClement on July 1 the Leafs now have eight NHL ready centres in the system.

  1. Tim Connolly
  2. Jay McClement
  3. David Steckel
  4. Tyler Bozak
  5. Matthew Lombardi
  6. Mikhael Grabovski
  7. Nazem Kadri
  8. Joe Colborne

    An argument could be made for whether or not Colborne is ready and if Kadri can step in as a productive pivot but they are both natural centres. This list just proves that some of these players will not be in blue and white in the fall. Look for Kadri to make the team and for Colborne to push for a spot at training camp. As for Bozak and Connolly, I believe their days with the Leafs are likely numbered. There is value in Connolly with one year left on his contract and Bozak may get a decent pick if the Leafs decide to trade him. Other than those two I can't see any other third or fourth line centres being movable. Either way Brian Burke needs to do something because eventually you need to stop bringing in overpaid veterans and start giving spots to upcoming prospects like Kadri/Colborne.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


So as the 2012 NHL Draft Lottery concluded last night two things were certain: 1. The Edmonton Oilers would be picking first AGAIN!! 2. The Maple Leafs will have a chance to draft an excellent player in the first 5 picks for only the second time in the last five seasons. Now why does the later mean so much? For the amount of sucking this team has done over the last half decade its astounding how few top 5 picks they have acquired. The Oilers are a clear example of a team that decided to pull up their socks and start a legit rebuild. The Maple Leafs have never made any such came since Brian Burke took the helm just three seasons ago. The fact of the matter is that the Leafs will have a chance to draft an elite forward or defencman in the first 5 picks this June in Pittsburgh. I will have my eye on the likes of Radek Faksa of the Kitchener Rangers and also Cody Ceci of the Ottawa 67's as they are both in the range of Toronto's pick and still seem legitimate NHL prospects to boot. This video is a collection of highlights from Faksa's Juniour career thus far. Looks solid as a two-way centre that can put on some points. Ceci on the other hand has almost as many points as some of the forwards in the top ten of the draft class this year and is a defence man....any team would love to have an offensive talent like him patrolling the blue-line.