Awesome news as we filtered into the MCC this morning: the Blue vs. White Scrimmage is on!
I got in early with a very nice welcome from Security Personnel. The security lady said to me, “seems like we never left..” excellent, I thought, she remembers me! Saw Henny and the usual cast of media personalities. I think I am fitting in.
The Blue and White took the ice with Dallas Eakins coaching the team in Blue. Great first period with Nazem Kadri making a fantastic statement by scoring three goals early. He was in the right spot at the right time but worked hard to get into those positions. Two of three goals were up over Reimer‘s shoulders. Reimer did give up 5 goals today but as Coach Carlyle said in post game presser, “he saw a majority of the excellent scoring opportunities” (yes, I managed to get into the press conference post game).
During the second period, the play got more physical and I got to focus on Morgan Rielly pairing with Captain Dion Phaneuf. I know everybody is probably sick of my glowing praise for the passing/skating of Rielly but it really is that good. As one Sportsnet Reporter said to me, “his passing is outstanding and I could count the amount of passes he has missed on one hand.” During the intermission, Steve Simmons, who was standing behind me on the balcony to the media room, dropped his bottle of pepsi down near me which created a loud bang but didn’t hit me. I am pretty sure he is gunning for me at this point. Clearly sending a message.
In the third period, Leo Komarov was inserted on a line with Kulemin and Grabovski. As the MSM commented, it could be an interesting line to watch. Leo didn’t look out of place at all today and loves finishing his checks. I can’t wait to see him at full intensity level. Final score was 6-1, but we need to play 4 on 4 overtime.
Overtime solved nothing and we went to a shootout, with Kostka getting the game winner.
Quick Game Notes:
- Orr-McClement-Brown looked solid.
- Lupul-Bozak-Kessel performed as usual. Kessel sure does have speed to burn.
- Franson played well in the first two periods.
- Pairing of Phaneuf-Rielly was above average.
- Kadri should not be sent to the AHL, but will he be?
- Matt Frattin is missing.
- JVR back tomorrow after bruising his foot yesterday.
- Mark Fraser brings something extra to our lineup and would love to see him as #7.
- Kostka could also get NHL minutes. He is one of my favourites of the camp.
- Best part of day was being part of the press conference with Coach Carlyle and then getting into the Team Dressing room (pics on twitter). I did manage to listen in on the Kadri, Scrivens and Rielly interviews. Literally being at an arms length away from your favourite players makes me thankful for this opportunity. Sadly, my iPhone video didn’t turn out as I would’ve liked but what can you do, it is what it is.
There is an open practice at the ACC tomorrow starting roughly at 10am from what I understand. Get down, and enjoy your Leafers.
Thanks for following.
Photo: Steve Dangle/The Leafs Nation
After reading this hilarious exchange between Peyton Manning and Tom Brady before their matchup on Sunday, I did a little poking around and came across Nazem Kadri’s Facebook timeline. The results were outstanding…
Yes, I’m pretty sure that @DownGoesBrown has done something like this before…so stick tap to him.
Follow me on twitter @SantosDan
On Wednesday morning the Leafs announced that they have called up forward Carter Ashton with their most recent plethora of injuries from last night’s game. We can all breathe a sigh of relief as the “savior” to our playoff dreams has now come. All kidding aside, Leaf fans will get to watch one of our youngest prospects play in his first NHL game of what hopes to be a long and successful career.
Since being acquired for defenceman Keith Aulie at the trade deadline, Ashton has looked great with the Marlies putting up a goal and an assist, as well as 8 penalty minutes in 3 games played. It is not known yet where the 20 year old will suit up in terms of line arrangements, however it is speculated that a 2nd line role alongside centerman Mikhail Grabovski is where he may be suiting up. Some may wonder why Nazem Kadri or Joe Colborne failed to get the call instead; but the matter is simple, they had their shot and Ashton has had a wonderful year in the AHL, so it is his turn. Not to mention, Ashton brings a physical dimension to his game which Burke and Carlyle love.
Puck drop tonight is at 7:30 pm et as the Leafs visit the Pens. Lets hope Ashton can spark the team as these next few games are essentially playoff games and must win scenarios in order to get back into a playoff position. GO LEAFS GO.
Listening to Maple Leafs’ Vice President of Hockey Operations, Dave Poulin, brought about some interesting thoughts as we wind our way toward this year’s edition of the NHL Trade Deadline. During his conversation, Poulin talked about building a team and an organization as you would a house and property. The analogy is one that speaks to patience and careful planning, something that is necessary for any successful front office staff, when it comes to building a winning product.
Looking at the foundation upon which the house that Burke and Co. has put together, it’s easy to forget that before Burke was brought to Toronto to lead the organization, it would have been difficult to look through the organizational depth chart, and find a solid pillar for the future. Since his arrival, Burke has made a number of moves to improve a talent pool that was on serious life support in terms of young talent. Through drafting alone (something that Burke has taken heat for in his time here), Burke has added first round picks in the likes of forwards Nazem Kadri and Tyler Biggs, as well as the smart, economical defenseman, Stuart Percy from the Mississauga Majors. He supplemented those selections with picks from rounds 2-7 with promising youngsters such as Gregg McKegg, Sondre Olden, Josh Nicholls, and Bradley Ross. Burke and Co. have approached the draft with a clear strategy, adding size and skill to the prospect pool, and for better or worse, fans of the organization are soon to see these selections given the chance to show their stuff at the AHL level.
The most important thing that Burke and his team of executives have done in his 4-year tenure with the Blue and White is add cornerstones through trade. The much-debated trade for Phil Kessel was the first major move that Burke made, adding a cornerstone talent to the organization, in a move that divided the fan base. Kessel’s talent is not in question, and shouldn’t be at this point, given that he currently sits among the top-5 in league scoring. In landing Phil, Burke surrendered two first round selections, and a second round selection to the Boston Bruins, and allowed the Bruins to land Tyler Seguin, Jared Knight and defenseman Dougie Hamilton. The miscalculation of the team’s ability at the time of the trade is well known, and is the subject of the on-going argument among fans as to whether or not the trade was beneficial to the club’s long term success. Whether or not you believe in the move, Burke added the missing piece from the Sundin era, the high scoring winger.
The second pillar that was added was Captain Dion Phaneuf. In a trade that sent pieces like Matt Stajan and Jamal Mayers to Calgary, Burke was able to not only pry Dion, but talented young defenseman Keith Aulie. The addition of Aulie is what sweetened the pot. Calgary was looking to shake up their roster, and Burke was able to turn a mole hill’s worth of talent into a mountain-esque return. In Dion’s time here, we’ve seen the return of his offensive game, as he struggled in the early stages of his Leaf career. Keith Aulie remains one of the organizations top prospects, as he has seen time with both the Leafs and the Marlies, and continues to round out his trade to become a full-time NHL defenseman.
The last player to discuss, in terms of pillars, is one that is currently cementing his status as just that. Young defenseman Jake Gardiner, acquired as the incentive in the deal for Joffrey Lupul, has stepped into the spotlight this season, and is making his case for being a future top pairing defender. Gardiner has the ability to take over the play from the back-end, and on a number of occasions this season, has been the best player on the ice in Blue and White. His skating is some of the best on the team, and at times, Gardiner has displayed poise and patience beyond his years. As is the case with any young player making the transition to pro hockey, Gardiner has had problems with turnovers, and getting caught on the pinch, but increased trust and TOI awarded to him by the coaching staff has certainly paid off.
Honourable mentions would go to talents like Matt Frattin, who at times, has shown NHL ready ability on both the rush and the back check. Joe Colborne is yet another, added in the Kaberle trade, as well as Jesse Blacker, a defenseman chosen 58th overall in the 2009 draft.
Although not all of the young talent made this article, the point of the matter is this: Burke and his team have made great strides to not only build a foundation, but build pieces around it. Leading up to the deadline, in one week’s time, there will be a lot of pressure on management to acquire a key piece to help get the club into the playoffs for the first time since the lockout. As Poulin stated this morning, the key to the process is patience and poise, knowing that a move cannot be made unless it improves your house going forward in the long term. Given this model, it’s hard to imagine Burke mortgaging the future for Rick Nash, even if bringing home the GTA native would see his statue built in the front yard.
It seems like a long shot; more of a silent hope and a prayer than something that actually seems possible of happening. Its seems like something that could only happen in NHL 12, but recent events have made a Rick Nash to Toronto deal look as though it could be possible.
Just this morning Toronto GM, Brian Burke, met with Columbus GM, Scott Howson. It is reported that they both enjoyed the continental breakfast and shared a side of pancakes, but even more interesting is that they discussed hockey! Now lets not get too ahead of ourselves here. Burke is known to pull off the big trade (i.e.. Dion Phaneuf), and it seems like the Leafs finally have the assets to make something like this happen with the likes of Luke Schenn, Jake Gardiner, Nazem Kadri, Matt Frattin, and Joe Colborne. Some of these players would probably have to be sent packing.
Even more intriguing are rumours that Howson is looking to package Nash, and once promising goalie Steve Mason. I have been told that Mason has been reading the “Andrew Raycroft Biography: So thats hockey?”, and it seems to be affecting his play as of late. However, if there is validity to this, Columbus will need a goalie in return so either Jonas Gustavsson, or James Reimer would have to be part of the package.
In pure speculation, I would assume the deal would be structured somewhat like this:
To Columbus: 1st round pick (maybe one more), Matt Frattin, Nazem Kadri, Luke Schenn, James Reimer/Jonas Gustavsson
To Toronto: Rick Nash, Steve Mason
So cross every finger and toe you have, say a little prayer every night until the trade deadline, and carry at least 5 lucky horseshoes on your person at all times.
If good old Burkie can pull off this deal, I think it will be a given that he never has to do up his tie ever again (not that he does anyway).