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Showing posts from 2014

My Leafs Playoff Experience (Throwback)

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It's been quite some time since I last wrote any piece on the Leafs, and I almost feel guilty saying this. But now that the Holidays are around the corner and much needed breaks are closer than ever, I feel it's time to resume action.

And good timing too, the Leafs have been playing well as of late. With the impressive streak they have built with new additions like Santorelli, Panik, and Holzer making impacts, plus strong efforts by Bernier and Reimer, the Leafs are within inches of reaching first in the Atlantic.

With the potential of a return to the playoffs for the first time in 2 calendar years, I thought I take you back down memory lane and tell the tale of the one time I saw a playoff game. We all know how the series ended, but the game I am referring to was Game 3, when the Leafs played their first home game during the playoffs in nearly a decade.

The day was Monday, May 6th, 2013. I was 16 at the time. Boy was it one hell of an experience.

Getting the tickets was just…

The Ridiculousness of the Toronto Media Over A Change in Routine

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After seeing the Leafs come away with a bounce-back victory over the Bolts, I was happy that the team had turned the corner quickly. After all, this was the same team that was outscored 15-4 against Buffalo and Nashville in two games, and they were heavily criticized for everything from leadership to compete level.

Waking up Friday morning, I turned on the TV excited to see the highlights once again and expecting to hear all the positives of the game. Would it be about JVR's big night, Panik playing well against his former mates, or the balanced depth shown in the game?

Nope, I got the exact opposite of that.

What I ended up with was a remark by Craig Button about how the Leafs acted after the win. Instead of the usual salute to the crowd, the Leafs simply skated off the ice and celebrated with a few fist pumps. Now, I don't really care about this, but it was blown WAY out of proportion by the Toronto media going on tantrums on how it is "so disrespectful" and "…

Attack of the Weber (Pre-Game Opinions)

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Clear the track, here comes Weber's boomer! Unfortunately for the Leafs, he is not the only thing to be afraid of from this Predators team. Nashville currently is among the top teams in the West and show no signs of slowing down. Considering the last few Leaf games, oh no!
Background Info The Predators have a healthy Rinne, new offensive pressure from Neal, and Weber's shot. These and a few others not mentioned are what makes the Predators suddenly complete for the Central Division title in just one season. They should not be taken lightly at all.
As for the Leafs, they are coming off a devastating loss to a team that seems to be heading towards McDavid talks. While they have improved their position in the standing, others are catching up and taking spots away and keeping the Leafs away from the playoff picture for now. Although it is still early, losses like those could come back to haunt the Leafs towards the end if they can't get their feet off the ground quickly. 
And…

MEH (POST GAME AND PRE-GAME OPINIONS)

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I was fortunate enough to be able to get tickets and see the game tonight. However, what I was treated to was what I felt to be the most boring game of the season. A stinker loss to the Penguins was a tough one to handle, only because the Leafs made the game sort of interesting in the third period (because of course). We'll see how that goes tomorrow night.
What happened and what to expect Honestly, I felt that the Leafs did a good job in making the inductees feel special for the night. I also found some excitement for Salming for his addition to Legends Row. However, the night was filled with slow pace, a dead crowd, and some bad bounces.
After the respectful ceremony, the Penguins seemed in control of the game. They were easily able to take the puck off the Leafs and go the other way for an opportunity. While some of the shots were fairly easy to stop, it was the danger of the pressure that made me feel nervous for another long night. Fortunately, the Penguins did not explode o…

HALL OF FAME NIGHT (PRE-GAME OPINIONS)

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Tonight continues an ongoing tradition that the Leafs have been doing for quite some time. They will honor some of the newest inductees into the Hall of Fame (as seen above) and then host the Penguins in what should be a more exciting match then the previous one. I hope.
Background Info The Penguins were on a roll, previously winning 7 games in a row before having the streak snapped earlier this week against the Rangers. They outscored their opponents 33-8 during that hot run, and is enough to put fear into Leafs Nation in what may be a long night.
But fear not, the Leafs themselves are on a roll and not only take own a three game winning streak, but also have been playing some really impressive hockey of late, including a huge 6-1 win over the Bruins two days ago. While shots against continues to be a struggle for the Leafs, their offensive production and depth has been a reason for their recent success. While some of the wins came against cellar dwellers, recent wins have come agai…

YOU GOT PWNED MATE (POST GAME OPINIONS)

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When I checked the score after the second period, I still could not believe what I was seeing. Usually it is the Bruins that were doing the damage to the Leafs. Tonight though, the roles swapped and the Buds finally gave the Bruins a taste of their own medicine by cruising to a 6-1 win. Let that sink in for a moment.
What happened? Heading into this game, the Bruins were on fire with  a five game winning streak to boost. Considering the recent history between the two clubs, most Leaf fans were worried for the result to go against the Buds. 
However, any fear that this would be a losing battle were quickly washed by Kessel's goal midway through the first period. He darted towards the wing and fired a beautiful wrister past Rask to give the Leafs the early lead. Surprisingly, the Leafs were heavily in control of the game right off the draw considering their time of possession and shots on goal (weird, right?). Yet, the Leafs were only able to leave the first with a one goal lead to…

I'M BACK (PRE-GAME OPINIONS)

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Finally, a new post about a Leaf game! It has been quiet some time since I last wrote a blog, just over a week ago. During my time off, the Leafs played good and forgettable hockey. But, their opponent tomorrow night is once again the Chara-less Bruins. Oh boy.
Background Info Because I missed four games, I will quickly describe them. One Tuesday, they allowed a sub-par Coyotes team to get to them early and the Leafs could not come from behind. Two days later, the Avs battled the Buds hard and made them lose Winnik and Gardiner to injuries, Fortunately, they ended up with a pity point. Then the Leafs made better strides in two back to back wins against the Rangers (as seen above) and the Sens (a game postponed due to the Ottawa shootings). 
By weekends end, Komarov was the hottest news on Twitter, Holland was praised for his improvements, and depth was proven to be a clear strength of this squad. While shots against continues to be a problem, it hasn't truly been an area for conc…

REIMER (POST-GAME OPINIONS)

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Holy mackinaw, that was an exciting game to watch and listen to (I was on my way home from a trip). For the first time this season, the Leafs win a game on Saturday and do so in style. Chicago played very aggressively in the third period and gave the ACC fans a scare (Playoff like atmosphere tonight, I may add). But James Reimer stood on his head and single-handedly won the third period for the Buds for the Leafs first 3 game winning streak of the year.
What happened? It was Saturday night, and the weather outside felt like winter had arrived early. There was a sense that this would be an exciting night of hockey, since it was an Original 6 match-up. Following a beautiful anthem performance by cancer survivor Carly Allison, the game was on.
This match-up was highlighted by a few significant first for the Leafs. It was the first time JVR played against his younger brother, Trevor, in an NHL game with his family in the stands. Also, Sam Carrick was called up to play in his first NHL ga…

IN IT TO WINNIK (POST GAME AND PRE-GAME OPINIONS)

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Once again, I will have to combine tonight's blog and tomorrow's blog into one as I am busy in the morning. Nonetheless, the Leafs played a great game against an injury riddled Blue Jackets team (who put up a heck of a fight, mind you), winning by a score of 4-1. It was the first time since November of 2011 that the Leafs beat Columbus, so it should make the players feel good the next time these two teams meet.

Tomorrow's opponent, on the other hand, will be a huge test for the Buds. The Blackhawks have been in Toronto waiting for the arrival of the Leafs and they are still on top of the hockey world. They just beat Ottawa 5-4, so do not take them lightly.
What happened? What to expect? The Leafs just played their best defensive game in a long time, by allowing only 10 shots against them in a huge 4-0 win over the Sabres. With the lines remaining intact, things looked to go well for the Leafs, until Lupul got hurt (again). Yesterday, he hurt his right hand in practice and…

BROKEN JACKETS (PRE-GAME OPINIONS)

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It's Halloween, and their is a Leaf game on tonight (so strange). In what is a rare staple in Leaf Land, the Buds will take on the Blue Jackets who are currently missing 7 key members. Outside of that, Columbus should not be taken lightly as the Jackets have outscored the Leafs 13-3 in the previous match ups. The last time the Leafs beat Columbus was in 2011, when the above picture was taken.
Background Info Since a record breaking evening against the Sabres, the Leafs have been taking time off to prepare for this weekends match ups. After allowing only 10 shots against, the Leafs are prepared to take on the storm as Columbus, and tomorrow's opponent, the Blackhawks, will be a more tough opponent and are more dangerous than ever. 
Speaking of Columbus, the injury bug has hit them hard early on this season. Heading into tonight's game, the Blue Jackets are missing 7 key members of their lineup due to injury, including Vezina winning goaltender Bobrovsky. That should be a g…

SAVING PRIVATE CARLYLE (POST-GAME OPINIONS)

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The Leafs have starved off ridiculous rumors and marched their way to the record books by dominating the Sabres to a 4-0 win. When there were talks of a line change that separated JVR and Bozak from Kessel, many thought that it would not work. So far, it has.
What happened? The Leafs entered this game following a dismal performance against the Bruins and surrounding countless rumors of the immediate future of the Leafs. The lines were shuffled, compete level was questioned, and Carlyle was thought to be fired. Obviously, there was loads of pressure on the Buds to break through and win, even if their opponent was Buffalo.
In the first, the Leafs dominated in terms of SOG, clearly proving that they were the better team. Two power-plays really helped the cause as they outshot the Sabres 17-4 by periods end. Although that was suprising, the first period was unmemorable to say the least. This was true for most of the second period, where the Leafs once again outshot and outplayed Buffalo …

AFTER THE FALLOUT (PRE-GAME OPINIONS)

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The Leafs have not played for a number of days now. But the reason for that was understandable, as of the tragic shooting in Ottawa. Fortunately, the Leafs are back and ready to return to action, and their opponent is a familiar foe: the Bruins. They are not as tough as in the past, but still a challenging match-up for the Buds.
Background Info The Bruins have had a slow start to their season, which is strange considering that this is almost the same team that won the cup 3 years ago. However, they are going to be without captain Chara who is out with a knee injury for the next month and a half.
As for the Leafs, they have not played since Tuesday as Wednesday's game against the Sens was postponed following the tragic shooting on Parliament Hill (The game has since be rescheduled to November 9). In their last game, they had a really strong effort against a surging Islanders team, with a 5 goal outburst. Although the Leafs have a record of 3-3-2, they are playing better hockey tha…

LOVIN' NYC RIGHT NOW (POST-GAME OPINIONS)

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What is it with the Leafs when they play against New York teams this season? In the two games they have played in the Big Apple, the Leafs have scored 11 goals (wow). 5 of them were scored tonight against a strong Islander team and the buds got a big win where the offense exploded again.
What happened? In what was one of the final visit to Long Island in Leaf history, the start to the game did not go as hoped. Within the first two minutes of the game, the gave up a goal to new Isle Nick Leddy on a questionable play, where there were indications that the play should have been offside. It has been a problem early in the season, and no team should benefit from it (including the Leafs). Getting back on track, the Leafs did eventually tie things up midway through off another JVR-Kessel play with JVR being the beneficiary of the play. Unfortunately for the Buds, they ran into penalty trouble with call after call going against them. It resulted in a poor goal against from (guess who) Tavere…