Raking Leafs

Mixing metaphors and casting cliches about hockey and the Maple Leafs for the ether's pleasure since MCMLXVII.


If bitching were an Olympic sport, some National Hockey League types would be gold-medal contenders.
Ha ha [/Nelson]

I, for one, will be defending NHL player participation in the Olympics. Not that I consider myself influential, but every voice helps.


Good Old Game has a good piece on Canadians in the top 25 of NHL scoring, some of which didn't make the team. I don't agree with the "they [didn't] wanted it badly enough" criticism, but still very read-worthy. The Tanguay-Sakic observation really makes sense to me. Horcoff's speed would've been great to have as well.

The more I think about it, Kariya is the biggest erroneous omission from the team.

5hole Scores

...players like Staal, Spezza, Crosby, Marleau, Cheechoo, Savard, Brindamor, Phaneuf and Boucher were left off of the roster. The selection process for Team Canada seemed to serve several masters and satsify none. Simply speaking, Gretzky and co. did not pick the best players for the job. Hell, they didn't even pick the best COACH for the job. Canada's roster was seemingly chosen through varying degrees of loyaty, status quo, hunches and placation. The result is 3 shut-out losses and not even a sniff at a medal.
Definitely check out the rest of FiveHole's excellent write-up
Brodeur insisted he, "loved the composition of our team. It seems to me that we had a good mixture of veterans and newcomers."
"It's certain that the media and the public will criticize (Gretzky's) choices now," he said. "That's inevitable when a team doesn't meet expectations. I think that there will be changes in the philosophy of the national team."
"Talent is not enough to win," Brodeur said. "It's necessary to know how to form a real team, and we didn't manage that this year."

Good Personnel Composition = Gretzky did his job
Changes in Philosophy, Didn't manage to form a real team = Coaching needs improvement
One case of tunnel-vision, please.

I was in disbelief, but not really shock, for atleast 24 hours.


Know Thy Enemy

a comment on Golbez's 'Blame Game' post

To be honest, and this is coming from a Leafs fan who has been pro-Quinn, the players were not provided the best chance to succeed. The constraints of the system scream "SAFE", which has been a proven base to work from in the NHL and in this tournament. SAFE without calculated risk taking will get you to about .500 over a long season, but it will get you bounced in a short elimination tournament.

What struck me about Russia's play yesterday was how they used the neutral zone not only to advance the puck, but to eliminate defenders. On one particular rush, the puck never moved more than 10 feet east to west, but three players peeled off the puck and took defenders with them. It was like watching pawns move up a chess board, setting up a waiting bishop for the mate.

Basically, I think Canada's game plan was predictable, uninventive, inopportune, and way too SAFE. And the Russian's knew it. Along with a every other team that had the skill to match Canada.

Personnel issues are something I couldn't venture a guess on, as the players weren't utilized effectively. But energetic youth would've been a wise asset to have in the vault.


Showcase Show Up

Postscript - Despite being denied CBC commentary of Cole and Neale, and the frequent ill-timed commercial breaks, I have to say the Olympic hockey coverage has been excellent below the 49th parallel. Even Clement's questions were insightful, well-formed, and articulated with ease.

Girlfriend's notes - Ray Ferraro's one ear sticks out, and he has a lisp. Complaints persisted despite me relaying the amusing story of his nickname being 'Chicken Parm.' Bill Clement looks like a pretty boy.


Coach said to let that one go in


Mats dishing the business
Tomas feigns excitement


Recovering Leaf

Karel Pilar is skating in the Czech Extraliga for Sparta Praha. Ferguson hopes to have him back in the fold for next season.


Showcase Showdown

Just a quick thought.(Update - that sentence alone should be a massive warning) If the NHL is willingly ceasing operations for two weeks and allowing its stars to compete in the Olympic games ostensibly to promote the sport, and by extension the league itself, why is the Center Ice Package not broadcasting some or all of the ice-hockey games? If the NHL will broadcast a Habs game to the lower-48 en francais, why won't they show us Olympic group play?

How else are these athletes supposed to be showcased? What, let NBC and its America vs. ______ broadcast formula spread the good word? Give me a break. Even CBC, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (yes that's right you nay-sayers of anything not privately owned) will be featuring non-canadian games.

If the NHL was on the ball and behind Olympic participation (which seemed to be the case after the "successful showcase" Salt Lake was credited as being, but not so much after the owner lock-out, the year-off groin injuries, the compressed schedule and renewed vitality of the "who pays your check?" bloc, i.e. the victorious owners of the clan Lock-out) this question would not be asked by this hockey fan. I should not have to struggle to find Olympic hockey on my television. It should be there at the touch of my remote, schedules up to date and not to be determined, ready and willing to embark on the time travel trek through my DVR to my eyes.

Get the CBC feeds on the Center Ice Package pronto! Get all ice hockey feeds with NHL players available on the Center Ice package. Broadcasting game tape without commentary would be an improvement. Mainly, it would be nice if the NHL appeared interested in promoting the game. Board of Govenors? Hello?

Or am I right to assume Olympic participation is now frowned on?

UPDATE(02/15/06 10:00 am): Holy crap! Am I influential or what? Here is the broadcast schedule that includes most of the hockey games played. My apologies to all who may have been offended. Yes, even you Gary.

Maybe this is a new NHL.


Big Apple takes a bite out of the Leafs

After an impressive first period in which the Leafs were attacking with speed and knocking the Rangers onto their heels, the buds wilted in the second period as an 'out of the groove' looking Belfour fell victim to Jagr utilizing the defender as a screen on each of his two goals that both went through the wickets, as did Poti's fresh-out-the-sin-bin break away marker for the lead. Eddie looked hapless on the fourth goal during a 5-on-3 PK to Sykora, going down early and indecisive in his approach to the situation. Granted he wasn't getting much help on the play, but the slo-mo replay was like watching a deer in headlights. Perhaps Eddie should've sat this one out, but that's easy to say after the fact.

Wellwood played a tremendous game, generating chances almost everytime he touched the puck as he distributed the biscuit like a point guard. On Kilger's spin-o-rama in the first, Wellwood played a nifty re-direct off the half boards for the only assist on the play. On Tucker's top-shelf tally, Wellwood ran the diversion on the three-man rush, one-timing a pass back against the grain to the open wing, giving Darcy all day to out-wait the intelligent and athletic Lundqvist. Kyle seems to be hitting his mid-season stride and is being rewarded with better linemates. I'm looking forward to watching this kid for many years to come.

All three Marlie D finished the game +1, despite an in form Jagr looking to exploit the freshmen defenders at every opportunity.

McCabe flashed his Superman cape early in the second period, saving a goal from in the crease. But with his yapping penalty, which a buddy just recently warned would cost the team, that put the team down two men, he finished off the evening flapping his cheeks with a spectacular hip check miss.

With the loss, the team falls out of the top eight. From the forced optimism department, the Leafs get a chance to redeem themselves tonight, and should enjoy the added bonus of playing against Kevin Weekes. Key word; should.

Leaf Lines

Leaf Pairs


Make it two in a row

A perfect 4-0 against this rambunctious Atlanta expansion franchise eager to make its first playoff appearance, quite simply the Leafs have the Thrashers' number. It has been by far the best series the Leafs have had this year outside of the Northeast division. 9-1, 5-1, 4-0, and now a 4-1 win. The much maligned Toronto defense has allowed Atlanta 3 goals in four games, which is superb against a team accustomed to scoring more than 3 goals a game. 22 goals for ain't too shabby neither.

And though last night's game was an above average display of team defense, keeping the game tied at love-love beyond the midway point, and for the second game in a row the Leafs took a Poni ride into the lead, and Belfour was "in the groove" with one save in particular of the jaw-dropping variety, I was more impressed with how the Leafs reacted under the pressure and physical abuse. I think Sundin was impressed too.

McCabe coming back from Aubin's bush league hit from behind showed resilience, and the team not running around the ice looking for revenge showed smarts. The captain was beaming after the first goal. "Could this be a reliable even strength secondary scoring option?" he thought. Then Sundin took a shoulder to the jaw from the coward Exleby, who apparently will play dirty but won't take his gloves off ever since getting his ass beat in a fight. Kilger stepping up to protect Sundin was a breath of fresh air. The Leafs didn't lose control and throw the game away on 'pride' (read idiotic) penalties (read - recurring theme). The Leafs kept their composure and continued with the game plan and executed. Shit, the Leafs even scored three even strength goals. They haven't done that, not including the empty netter against NJ over the weekend, since beating the Pens in OT (and is an OT 4-on-4 goal really even strength?) or more precisely since the 12/31/05 defeat of the Devils.

Steen was the only multi-pointer on the night; he was skating well, shooting when he could, and generally playing positive hockey. Allison played a great game, even re-gaining the puck with some hustle across the zone, with the highlight of leveling a Thrasher right next to the benches. But the real stand out performance last night for me was Wellwood. He was really moving on the ice in both directions. Midway through the second with the game tied, Wellwood had a backcheck swoop to break up a pass to Savard entering the zone that was unreal. It looked like Kyle cheated and moved two spaces on the game board, because he dove past the closest Thrasher and intercepted the pass to Savard along the boards. His goal was a rebound batted in from about two feet up in the air from in close. It seemed almost unfair for anybody playing against Wellwood. Last night's performance may have started the process to convince me that he can amp up his game and play like a star in this league. My girlfriend called him "feisty." I would have to agree.

As for the young D trio, Harrison got embarrassingly bodied by Kovalchuk in the corner. Wozniewski was caught flat-footed badly on a rush. Kronvall collected his first career point, and was deep for a dangerous chance on net. Overall they all played a pretty solid game in all three zones. Definitely no complaints.

Next up, a home and home with the Atlantic Division leading, and not subject to the 'number of games played, the Flyers are really leading' axiom, New York Rangers. If the Leafs can remain composed and stay out of the box, they might be able to take the majority of the points up for grabs.

Leaf Lines

Leaf Pairs


RIP T.dot*-HP

Peace out, CY. I'll be sure to check out JABS. First, thank you for recognizing this blog even exists, and second thank you for your generous characterization of its contents.

Memos to Personnel

Re: Leafs 4 - Devils 2

Tomas Kaberle - That goal was awesome! The D actually bit on your shot fake. Which means it was one of your better fakes, and the D believes you will shoot the puck. You want to know why? In January you recorded the most SOG in a month (34) for your entire career. The actual shot was pretty good, and you beat Brodeur no less. Nice work. Keep it up.

Alexei Ponikarovsky - You are one of the few Leafs that looks prepared for the new NHL. Keep up the great work. You also posted the most shots in a month, 31, in your career. Career high point total, here you come. All I'd like out of you now is the odd fighting major, but it isn't a need.

Jason Allison - I thought you got the previous memo about shooting the puck? If you misplaced it, I can re-send it. I know you are capable of more.

Chad Kilger - You are playing like a first-rounder who still has something to prove. Which is good because if you just had your first four game point streak of your career you have plenty to prove. You remain one of JFJr's best pick ups. Keep it up.

Ed Belfour - Can you play like that every night? I'll give you a billion dollars if you do.

Pat Quinn - Thank you for scratching O'Neill. I'm not entirely sure why it took so long, given his obvious shortcomings on almost every shift. I know he had a good backcheck a game or two ago, but in my opinion that doesn't justify ice time.

Also, do you think you could get the team to take the play to the other team as soon as the period starts? I haven't seen three consecutive good period starts in quite a while, and it is getting tiresome. Without these lapses, the Leafs would be a much more formidable opponent and goals against would be down drastically. I'm not sure what the problem is but once the team is actually playing, the defense is pretty good. Why don't they play a full sixty minutes? Could you remind them of this before the first shift? Just a thought.

Leaf Lines

Leaf Pairs


Stupid blogspot ate my homework.




Though the TML market remains bullish on TieDomi.com, the numbers are really down this fistcal year.


...fast becoming required reading for Leafs fans...
Chris Young, Toronto Star

There might be a pop quiz tomorrow, so be prepared.

Chris, thanks again for the mention. That's twice now. Stop it already. I'm running out of checks.


Leafs fuel Lightning

McCabe and Kaberle reunited! All is well! Well, maybe not. After leading twice in a game that could have been a regulation win, the Leafs fail to score in overtime, though Tucker came mighty close, and predictably lose to Tampa Bay in the shootout. I say predictably because the Leafs don't have any strong penalty shot takers, and the 'Ning are stacked.

Sundin set-up the first Leaf goal with pressure on the forecheck that managed to confuse two defensemen into giving him the puck, which he slid to Tucker who centered a pass from behind the goal line to a fresh-off-the-bench Kilger who rifled a slap shot past Burke's left shoulder. Tucker's goal seemed more like a Kaberle goal, but what do I know. Darcy deflected a point shot on the powerplay.

The two Tampa Bay goals leave a bad taste in my mouth. Richards scoring with less than a second left in the period should not have happened. I've got two words for you Tomas; clock management, or more simply, clock awareness. Craig's goal was equally irritating, as McCabe didn't take care of his man in the slot on one of the few rebounds Eddie allowed.

But if Quinn was pissed at the duo for errors on each of the Lightning's goals, I was pissed because all of a sudden the Leafs were complicating clearing their zone, resulting in sustained pressure from Tampa's top forwards. Because this pressure was felt for most of the night, the Leafs looked only capable of playing for a tie and were not interested in taking the lead again. In the third period there was only one team trying to win. The Leafs had no answer for Tampa's sustained pressure because they were feeding the beast.

Eddie was the only reason this game was close, stopping 36 of 38 shots in regulation. He stopped a dangerous looking Lecavalier numerous times from in close and on the rush. Belfour snubbed St.Louis' best chance; an effort to bank in the puck from behind the goal line. Kubina and Richards were also blasting away, but he was up to the task.

Leaf Lines

Leaf Pairs

From the good news department, Ovechkin's groin has an owwie, so hopefully he won't be lacing 'em up on Friday.