Raking Leafs

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


Razor's edge the difference

TOR vs PHI 11/06/07

Leaf Lines

Leaf Pairs

Combo TOI


Despite coming off the biggest win of the season to play the worst team in the East and the League, the Leafs came out flying and took the game right to the struggling Phlyers, firing 15 shots on numerous scoring chances, ringing several off posts, but only scoring one. It came at even strength as Bates pulled a Forsberg, coming out from behind the net on his forehand, turning back toward the goal line and firing it past Niittymaki. I would consider it a soft goal, as Niittmaki seemed to flail trying to stop a high shot that actually went between his legs. Seems once again goal-tending is not one of Philadelphia's strengths.

The Leafs weren't able to stay out of the penalty box early while playing with enthusiasm, as they have over the course of the last few energetic performances, but the PK once again did the job in the first. However in the second the Flyers turned the tables and had the Leafs running around in their own end, resulting in a goal by Eager. Bell seemingly had the odd man rush under control but over-commited to the outside and Eric Meloche easily deked his way inside then found Eager streaking down to the far post.

The Leafs then took up residence in the sin bin on four consecutive penalties in the first eleven minutes of the second, but the PK once again blanked the Flyers. (PK ranked 9th, 87.7% pure) Raycroft in particular was outstanding, robbing Forsberg who thought he had an open net, as well as kicking a left toe to a puck from a tight short side shot that would've found the back of the net. A+ for Raycroft.

Tied at one heading into the third, I was uneasy as to which Leafs team would take the ice. Luckily it wasn't the passive team of the second period. Antropov scored his first of the year in a mad scramble at the top of the crease on the powerplay to take the lead. It was great to see Antro and Poni and Sundin celebrate the goal, who genuinely looked excited to be reunited and producing in the clutch once again. It wouldn't be surprising to see alot more of this trio.The Flyers pressed for a goal after that, and had their chances but once again Fred & Barney were great in the Leafs zone, though a couple of times were a bit too cutesy in deciding how to clear the puck. However, with the Flyers pinching to maintain the zone, White made a fanastic individual effort at the blue line against a much larger Flyer defender to clear the zone and send Poni off to the races, who blasted a perfectly placed shot into the top right corner.

And I take it all back. After watching as Steen could've easily potted the empty-netter, a la Alfredsson in the first game of the year, Alexander unselfishly found Kaberle trailing the play for the easy tally to extend Tomas' point streak top six games.

Also, I received an email today from the guy who runs hockey-recap.com, you know the Combo TOI link from above in all its daily-ground-breaking-awesomeness. In it, he asked that his current subscribers send emails to other hockey fans to try and grow his subscription count to ensure the longevity of his project. And he specifically asked not to gush, or plug his site, but simply to appeal to the stat-geek in all of us. This appeal was a last resort because he has been "unsuccesful in getting other high-traffic hockey web sites to work with me, possibly because they deem me irrelevant or possibly because they believe the site to be a competitor." So go subscribe, because what Gary provides free of charge is a unique and excellent resource, and it would be shame for him not to prosper from it.


This final link is for Bitter Leaf Fan. I don't buy everything Elliot says, but I thought it would be a good counter-point to his sharp critiques.


  • At 3:49 PM, Blogger MF37 said…

    Ninja – I’m thoroughly enjoying the fact that the Leafs are winning and playing beyond expectations, but that SI article is some pretty bad stuff. Let’s have a look:

    The Toronto Maple Leafs are in the midst of a similar transformation. Like the Rangers, the Leafs' home in a hockey hotbed -- at least from a market size and media scrutiny standpoint -- had created a habit of spending in the name of doing anything to win in the moment. For the Rangers, that habit became a cycle of lunacy. For the Leafs, it meant annual playoff appearances, but yielded springtime frustration more than anything of playoff significance.

    Yeah – the Leafs sure aren’t in that cycle of spending lunacy now. JFJ dropped nearly half the cap ($20M) on four blueliners and a goalie this off-season. That sure is a change of pace from how the Leafs used to do things. JFJ’s approach also meant the springtime frustration set-in around the 81 game mark last year instead of the second round of the playoffs.

    After narrowly missing the playoffs last season however, the Leafs finally began rebuilding in earnest this season. Several young players are getting significant minutes under new coach Paul Maurice -- many of whom he is familiar with from coaching the Leafs AHL affiliate in Toronto last season.

    Let me get this straight: last year, the Leafs weren’t rebuilding they were just playing lots of youngsters like Poni, Steen, Stajan, Wellwood. The transformation or re-building of the Leafs started this year when we started playing lots of youngsters like Poni, Steen, Stajan, Wellwood. I think I’ve got it.

    The benefactors are now blueliners Ian White and Brendan Bell, who developed under Maurice in the AHL by playing over 30 minutes a night and getting their game primed for the next step.

    White and Bell are the benefactors of injuries to Kubina, Kronwall and Cola. If those three players weren’t hurt, Bell would likely be in the AHL and White would like be rotated through the Leafs bottom 3.

    It’s fantastic (seriously - choose your favourite adjective here) that for the first time in a long-time the Leafs seem to have some sort of depth and have these great young players who can fill in and fill in well. For that the Leafs’ scouts, player development staff and GMs should be commended. It bodes well for this club’s future.

    But to claim that the Leafs have suddenly seeen the light and are rebuiding is nonsense. The cap forced their hand. When you commit $26 million to six players (plus buyouts for Domi and Belfour) your only choice is youth - there's no other way dress 17 other skaters and stay under the cap.

    Bryan McCabe can still agitate with the best of them and play a significant role in the offense from the backline.

    I don’t think Mr. Elliot has watched a Leaf game this year if this is his take on McCabe...

    I don't mean to be sharp or overly critical. I just wish the media would re-read their stuff before they filed it.

  • At 4:02 PM, Blogger ninja said…


    Like I said, I don't agree with Mr.Elliot much either. Though the Leafs are said to be 'rebuilding on the fly' as I think JFJ terms it.

    And please don't take 'sharp' the wrong way. I meant it as, perceptive, astute, penetrating.


Post a Comment

<< Home