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Shorthanded Leafs defeated in Edmonton

From Official Toronto Maple Leafs

EDMONTON – Connor McDavid continues to show why he has been labelled as a potential generational talent.

McDavid had two goals and three assists as the Edmonton Oilers came away with a 5-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday in a battle between the NHL’s two lowest-ranked teams.

“We needed this,” McDavid said. “There was a lot of pressure on us coming in, playing against a team that was desperate and missing a lot of guys. They played a great game in terms of structure and not giving up too much. But it was a big night for us to start off the homestand.”

Jordan Eberle scored three goals and added an assist for the Oilers (22-29-5), who snapped a three-game losing streak.

Along with a four-assist performance from Benoit Pouliot, the line combined for 13 points.

“I think the more we play together the better we will be,” Eberle said. “Tonight was obviously our best, we put up goals and whatnot. But it was the little plays that I really liked. Coming out of our end, cycling, I thought we did a better job of that. Chemistry is not something you get right away, you’ve got to grow it a bit.”

Oilers head coach Todd McLellan said sometimes all you can do is sit back and watch McDavid, the 19-year-old phenom.

“His performance did all the speaking,” he said. “You turn into a fan as a coach and as players and just admire what he and his linemates did.”

Josh Leivo and Jake Gardiner replied for the Maple Leafs (19-25-9), who have lost three in a row.

“I didn’t mind our game to tell you the truth,” said Toronto head coach Mike Babcock. “We threw the puck away on their fourth goal, which I didn’t like to see, there was no reason to do that. But we got ourselves in a good spot and in the end. We didn’t finish and they did.”

Edmonton scored on the first shot of the game 3:29 into the first period as Benoit Pouliot sent in McDavid on a breakaway and he deked around Toronto goalie Jonathan Bernier to deposit his eighth goal of the season.

Toronto responded eight minutes into the first as Leivo picked the top corner to beat Oilers starter Cam Talbot. Leivo left the game later in the period with an upper-body injury.

Edmonton restored its lead six-and-a-half minutes into the middle frame as Eberle picked up a bouncing puck in front of the net and sent home his 16th of the year.

The Oilers made it 3-1 late in the second on a power play as McDavid spotted Eberle all alone at the side of the net and he potted his second of the game.

Toronto got one back with 15 seconds left in the middle frame as a Gardiner shot appeared to carom off a pair of Oilers before ending up behind Talbot.

McDavid salted the game away with six minutes left, scoring his second of the contest on a shot from the slot.

Eberle added an empty-net goal for his first career NHL hat trick after previously recording two-goal games 17 times.

Both teams return to action on Saturday as the Oilers play host to the Winnipeg Jets and the Leafs travel to Vancouver to face the Canucks.

Notes: Of the players acquired Tuesday in the nine-player trade that sent captain Dion Phaneuf to the Ottawa Senators, only forward Colin Greening was in the Leafs lineup. Milan Michalek (broken finger) and Jared Cowen (hips) did not dress.

Source: Shorthanded Leafs defeated in Edmonton

Postgame Quotes: Feb. 11, 2016

From Official Toronto Maple Leafs

Friday, 02.12.2016 / 12:15 AM ET / News

By Chris Lund

Here’s a sampling of what the Leafs had to say following a 5-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night.

Mike Babcock

He’s (Connor McDavid) a real good player obviously. I thought their goaltender was real good early. We worked hard, had lots of chances but in the end they were able to capitalize on theirs.

Jake Gardiner

He’s definitely a special player. You just watch the stuff he can do – the little things – most players don’t see. Obviously he was in on all five goals tonight and he’s definitely a guy everyone’s going to have to be aware of.

Colin Greening

I felt good. Felt like I made some mistakes, but overall I think there was more positive than negative. But I think that’s going to happen your first game, especially with a new team.

Jonathan Bernier

I thought we did a good job in between periods, we stayed positive, the game was right there. We scored that big goal in the second and then obviously that fourth one really hurt us. But I thought the whole game we’re right there and we had our chances to put it in.

Source: Postgame Quotes: Feb. 11, 2016

Five Takeaways from Maple Leafs vs. Oilers

From Official Toronto Maple Leafs

Here are five takeaways from the Maple Leafs’ 5-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers Thursday at Rexall Place:

Injury-depleted roster not an excuse in gritty Leafs effort.

Playing without injured veterans Tyler Bozak, James van Riemsdyk, Shawn Matthias, Joffrey Lupul and Nazem Kadri, Toronto was going to be in tough to produce enough offence to beat the high-octane Oilers. But after surrendering the first goal of the game to Edmonton phenom Connor McDavid early in the first period, the Buds answered back with a goal from Josh Leivo to make it 1-1, held the hosts to just three first-period shots on Jonathan Bernier and clawed back from a 3-1 deficit in the middle frame on Jake Gardiner’s second goal in as many games. McDavid scored his second of the night in the third period to put the game out of reach, but they were competitive for the grand majority of the 60 minutes.

Josh Leivo on a roll before leaving the game.

Leivo’s first-period goal – a near-identical copy of the one he scored against Calgary on Tuesday – was his second of the year at this level, his second in two games, and an indication he’s got an NHL-calibre shot. Unfortunately, he didn’t return after the first intermission after suffering an upper-body injury, but the 22-year-old is demonstrating he can provide the offence Toronto has desperately been seeking.

Another above-average night for Jake Gardiner.

Yes, his ill-timed pinch led to McDavid’s first goal, and yes, Gardiner gave away the puck on the same play that ended when he scored his fifth of the year, but Toronto doesn’t have many players who have his patience level and creativity with the puck. He’s still got to improve in some areas, but there are few, if any, Leafs blueliners who can do what Gardiner can on offence.

Mark Arcobello leads way in shots-on-net during season-high in minutes.

The Leafs’ two top forwards in terms of ice time Thursday were veterans Leo Komarov (19:13) and P-A Parenteau (18:17), but a close third was Arcobello, who logged a season-best 17:31 while leading Toronto in shots-on-net (seven). The 27-year-old is still looking for his first NHL point of the season after spending most of it with the AHL’s Marlies, but the coaching staff no doubt will be encouraged by his willingness to put the puck on net.

That McDavid kid is pretty good.

The No. 1 pick of the 2015 NHL draft was the odds-on favorite to win the Calder Trophy as the league’s best rookie this year before a lengthy injury hurt those chances. But McDavid has been nothing short of spectacular since he returned to game action Feb. 2, and his two-goal, five-point performance Thursday against the Leafs is evidence he can still win that award in the 26 regular-season games the Oilers have remaining. After Thursday’s game, the 19-year-old has nine goals and 24 points in 19 games, and betting against him keeping up that point pace would be folly.

Source: Five Takeaways from Maple Leafs vs. Oilers

Game Journal: Game 53 – Maple Leafs vs. Oilers

From Official Toronto Maple Leafs

5:50 PM: Tonight’s officials will be Gord Dwyer and Brian Pochmara. Ryan Gibbons and Vaughan Rody will be the linesmen. Those looking to tune in to the game can watch on TSN 4, listen on Sportsnet 590 The FAN and follow the Leafs on Twitter.

5:45 PM: Here are tonight’s projected lineups for the Maple Leafs and Oilers.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Forwards

40 Grabner – 24 Holland – 47 Komarov

38 Greening – 33 Arcobello – 15 Parenteau

26 Winnik – 16 Spaling – 32 Leivo

25 Clune – 56 Froese – 28 Boyes

Defence

2 Hunwick – 44 Rielly

51 Gardiner – 46 Polak

52 Marincin – 20 Corrado

Goaltenders

45 Bernier

34 Reimer

Edmonton Oilers

Forwards

4 Hall – 29 Draisaitl – 16 Purcell

67 Pouliot – 97 McDavid – 14 Eberle

26 Pakarinen – 55 Letestu – 10 Yakupov

44 Kassian – 23 Hendricks – 28 Korpikoski

Defence

2 Sekera – 5 Fayne

25 Nurse – 19 Schultz

88 Davidson – 62 Gryba

Goaltenders

33 Talbot

1 Brossoit


5:40 PM: Peter Holland will skate between Michael Grabner and Leo Komarov tonight as Nazem Kadri is unavailable due to injury. Here’s what he had to say ahead of the game…

Leafs TV
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What are your thoughts on going up against Connor McDavid?

I better be ready to skate tonight, some of the highlights I’ve seen he just flies. He makes some great moves at full speed, some great passes and he sees the ice well. I’ve got to get my feet moving and make sure I’m on the defensive side of him most of the time.

Is there a curiosity in playing him?

It’s going to be fun. Obviously he was hurt for a while there but he’s been on a torrid pace before and after. He’s a great player, he’s come in with a lot of confidence and so it’s a good challenge tonight.

What stands out to you as a big challenge playing centre?

Just play a 200 foot game, continue the momentum I’m building in the offensive zone but be solid defensively. That’s how you earn [Babcock’s] trust and take some important faceoffs for him. Play all 200 feet.

On the shuffling of roles between players:

When you have three or four injuries and people coming in and out of the lineup, obviously it creates different opportunities for guys. Obviously I find myself on the top line tonight but I just have to take it and play with the confidence I’ve developed here and do my best to help this team win.

Do you get more comfortable as a winger or are you anxious to get back to the middle?

I’ve flip-flopped so much this year that I’m comfortable playing both positions at this point. It seems like every couple of games I witch back and forth so I’m just trying to find my centre game as quick as I can tonight.

Are you worried about being on a highlight reel when you play a player like McDavid?

You know he has that skill. You don’t want to put yourself in a position where he can use his speed to burn you. You don’t play the puck, play the man against him. It goes back to the basics you learn in minor hockey. If you start watching the puck on a guy like that he’s going to make you look foolish. I’m just going to go out and play my game and hopefully I don’t end up on the wrong side of one of those.



5:30 PM:
Here’s what Matt Hunwick had to say following Thursday’s morning skate in Edmonton…

Leafs TV
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What are the biggest challenges going up against a guy like Connor McDavid?

I haven’t really seen him play too much, obviously I’ve heard a lot of things. I think his speed is one of his biggest assets and obviously he can make plays at top speed. We’ll have to have a good gap tonight and he’s just a dynamic player that we haven’t had the chance to see this year. It’ll obviously be a great challenge for us.

Have you seen any of his highlights?

I don’t watch too much but I’ve seen the one, I think it was against Columbus. That’s the only one I’ve seen. Obviously he’s a special player and an unbelievable play there.

Is there a curiosity as a veteran to play a guy like him?

Yeah, I mean I always like to see the newest guys and he’s a generational type of player is what they’re touting him. I think he has lived up to that billing so far in the short time he has been in the League. It would be better watching him play other teams but tonight we’ll have a firsthand chance to see what he’s all about.



5:20 PM:
Jonathan Bernier is slated to get the start for the Maple Leafs in Edmonton tonight. Here’s what he had to say ahead of the game…

Leafs TV
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What do you know about McDavid?

Obviously he’s very skilled and I’ve seen some goals that he’s scored, he’s got very high skills and I think he makes everyone around him a lot better. We all know as a team we’ve got to be on top of him all night long. It doesn’t change when you play against a guy like Crosby or Ovechkin or all those top guys in the League. You’ve got to make sure you’re on top of them all night.

When you see the highlights are you amazed he’s a teenager?

Yeah, I mean the League has changed. You see a lot more guys now 18, 19 and they come up and they’re more ready than 22, 23 when I started. It’s changed a lot but he’s amazing.

On stopping McDavid’s famous deke:

Well it depends. In a game it all depends on how much time he’s got, if he’s got a guy on his back. When he scored those goals it’s because he was alone with the goalie and I think he had a bit more time to stop and go the other way. I’ve seen that goal and obviously I’ll be expecting it I guess if he comes in on a 1-on-1.

How are you feeling about your game?

I feel good. Like I mentioned, I think since I came back from the [American League] and I’ve just got to — whenever I get the call to go in I’ve just got to make sure I go in and make sure I’m ready and give a good chance to my team to get a good W tonight and move on that long road trip. We’ve got to make sure we’re ready right from the start.

Do you feel you need to step up with a shorthanded lineup tonight?

I just think I’ve got to do my job. Once you start trying to do too much, that’s when you’re getting caught. You’ve got to make sure you’re doing your part and hopefully the guys in front of you are doing their part.



5:10 PM:
Here’s what Mike Babcock had to say following Thursday’s morning skate in Edmonton…

Leafs TV
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On the lineup:

[Kadri is out] Everybody else that was in the game last game is going to play. Cowen is not going to play. When they did our scan of him or whatever our medical people do, they felt his hips were really tight. He’s not injured or nothing, he practiced today. We’re going to spend the next 10 days doing what we can to loosen his hips up so we can catch him being good when he starts.

What stands out about McDavid when you watch him on film?

He’s an elite player, he can really skate, great speed through the middle, good hockey sense. It looks like he’s going to develop into a real, real good player at the National Hockey League level. I’ve never seen him live so this will be my first chance. He’s a good kid, I met with him prior to the draft and he looks very exciting.

On injuries scrambling the lines:

I don’t think they’re scrambled, I think they’re beautiful, it’s just how you look at it. A new opportunity, an opportunity to get some momentum together. You do what you do. I never thought Holly would be our first line centre tonight but that’s just the way it goes. It’s an opportunity for everybody and the great thing about life is if you grab hold of something it’s amazing what you can do for yourself. Some guys that might not have thought they were playing yesterday are in. Play hard, play well and let’s find a way to get a win.

What would you like to see from Holland at centre?

I like him on the wing just because I think he’s more comfortable. The bottom line is when you play in the middle you’ve got to be real good down low or else you spend too much time down low in your own zone. If you’re good you spend a lot of time in the offensive zone. That’s going to be the challenge, the faceoff circle and playing well without the puck in your own zone so you can spend some time in offence.

How would you assess the team’s achievement in your system through 50 games?

I think a lot of guys are playing really well, it’s just their level of their capability. I think the big challenge for us as a group, and we knew that going in, is to keep improving our roster so that we can get to a spot that we can have a real good run. That’s our plan.

5:00 PM: The Leafs are continue their road trip on Thursday night when they visit the Edmonton Oilers.

The Leafs are coming off of a 4-3 loss to the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night. Peter Holland, Josh Leivo and Jake Gardiner recorded goals for the Maple Leafs while James Reimer stopped 18 shots in the loss. Jonathan Bernier will get the start in Edmonton. It’s his first start since Jan. 27 in Tampa Bay and first appearance since Feb. 6 in Ottawa.

The Oilers last played on Tuesday night and lost 2-1 to the New Jersey Devils. Jordan Eberle had the lone Edmonton goal while Cam Talbot stopped 24 shots in the loss. He will return to the crease against the Maple Leafs on Thursday night.

Stay tuned for comments from Coach Babcock and the Leafs, projected lineups and more.

Source: Game Journal: Game 53 – Maple Leafs vs. Oilers

Dion Phaneuf has left Toronto. Who do the Leafs move next?

From The Globe and Mail – James Mirtle

Dion Phaneuf’s tenure with the Ottawa Senators began in Detroit on Wednesday night. On the second defence pair with youngster Cody Ceci, the former Toronto Maple Leafs captain had a different jersey, with a different number (2) and no letter on his chest.

After 423 games as a Leaf – the Senators’ most bitter rival – it was an odd visual.

Dion Phaneuf traded to Sens: A look at his hockey career in numbers (CP Video)

And the Phaneuf trade is only the beginning. More Leafs are likely to follow him out the door, with the majority of roster spots up for grabs in the 18 days left before the NHL’s trade deadline.

It’s expected Maple Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello will be one of the NHL’s busiest executives the rest of the way. He has nine pending unrestricted free agents (UFAs) on the current roster, and it makes no sense to hold onto any of them if prospects and/or draft picks can be had in return.

The Leafs have also discussed moving winger Dan Winnik and goaltender Jonathan Bernier, who both have one year on their deals beyond this season, in talks with other teams.

Add in the veterans left from the former management’s core – Joffrey Lupul and Tyler Bozak – and the three hefty contracts the Leafs just added from Ottawa on Tuesday and that is 16 players off the current 27-man roster (including injured reserve) who are undeniably available.

That’s a lot of trade calls.

Realistically, how many will be traded? And what can Toronto expect to get?

The unrestricted free agents

There are two groups of rental players the Leafs have to offer teams. The first – namely P.A. Parenteau and goaltender James Reimer – are players that have had good seasons and will be easy to move for something of value.

Reimer is a special case in that he is the only pending UFA who the team is still trying to re-sign. But he could be a valuable short-term option for a team such as Nashville, which is on the postseason bubble and having issues in goal. At the very least, Parenteau and Reimer should be able to garner second-round picks or solid prospects if they’re moved.

The second group comprises players with more limited value. Defenceman Roman Polak could be an exception given how many teams want big, physical-depth defencemen, but even then it’s hard to imagine he’d fetch much more than a third-round pick.

The Leafs other pending UFAs – Michael Grabner, Shawn Matthias, Nick Spaling, Mark Arcobello, Brad Boyes, Rich Clune – have had marginal production this year (or spent time in the minors) so they’ll be a tougher sell.

It’s worth keeping in mind, however, that the Leafs somehow found takers for players such as Olli Jokinen (sixth-round pick from St. Louis) and Korbinian Holzer (fifth-round pick from Anaheim) at last year’s deadline. Anything is possible. Especially if Toronto takes back bad money in a deal, as they did in accepting Eric Brewer in the Holzer trade.

The trade bait and vets with big contracts

After moving Phaneuf, the Leafs don’t have many “big” contracts left. Lupul is the team’s highest-paid player at $5.25-million a season, followed by James van Riemsdyk, Bozak and Bernier in the $4.2-million range. The only player on the team signed beyond 2017-18 is defenceman Jake Gardiner, who is 25 years old.

It’s difficult to imagine they could find a taker for Lupul, as he has only 14 points in 46 games and is again on injured reserve. Bozak and Bernier, however, should have some value and could possibly be moved for second- or third-round picks simply to shed more salary.

The Leafs moved Winnik to Pittsburgh before last year’s deadline for a second- and fourth-rounder, which isn’t going to happen again given the season he’s had. A mid-round pick would be a reasonable return this time. It’s also possible the Leafs move Ottawa transplants Milan Michalek, Colin Greening and Jared Cowen, who all have one year left on their deals. Cowen, in particular, could be intriguing for a contending team, as he can be bought out at a low cost in the summer in a transaction that will grant extra cap space in 2016-17.

Who is safe?

It’s unlikely the Leafs trade van Riemsdyk, Nazem Kadri, Morgan Rielly or Gardiner, who will form the nucleus of a roster that is going to get even younger with an influx of a half-dozen or so players from the AHL’s Marlies next season.

Everyone else is an option.

That said, someone has to play with the kids next season. The Leafs have to be careful not to go too scorched-earth by putting young players in over their heads – the way Edmonton did – and ending up mired in the NHL’s basement for several more years.

They’ll get a close-up view of that on Thursday against the Oilers, with something of note on the line: The losing team will claim last place in the NHL standings.

Follow on Twitter: @mirtle

Source: Dion Phaneuf has left Toronto. Who do the Leafs move next?

Game Journal: Game 52 – Maple Leafs vs. Flames

From Official Toronto Maple Leafs

6:30 PM: Tonight’s officials will be Gord Dwyer and Kendrick Nicholson. Steve Barton and Ryan Gibbons will be the linesmen. Those looking to tune in can watch on Sportsnet Ontario, listen on TSN 1050 and follow the Leafs on Twitter.

Paul Hendrick and Joe Bowen check in from Calgary to set the table for tonight’s game.

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6:00 PM: Here are tonight’s projected lineups for the Maple Leafs and Flames.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Forwards
40 Grabner – 43 Kadri – 47 Komarov
24 Holland – 33 Arcobello – 15 Parenteau
26 Winnik – 16 Spaling – 32 Leivo
25 Clune – 56 Froese – 28 Boyes

Defence
2 Hunwick – 44 Rielly
51 Gardiner – 46 Polak
52 Marincin – 20 Corrado

Goaltenders
34 Reimer
45 Bernier

Calgary Flames

Forwards
13 Gaudreau – 23 Monahan – 24 Hudler
93 Bennett – 11 Backlund – 67 Frolik
79 Ferland – 16 Jooris – 19 Jones
52 Bollig – 18 Stajan – 17 Bouma

Defence
5 Giordano – 7 Brodie
4 Russell – 27 Hamilton
15 Smid – 29 Engelland

Goaltenders
1 Hiller
31 Ramo



5:45 PM:
James Reimer gets the start in Calgary tonight. Here’s what he had to say ahead of the game…

Leafs TV
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On the trade:

Life goes on. It’s disappointing, obviously he’s a big part of our team and carried a lot of the weight for the franchise for the last couple of years so it’s tough to see him go, but it’s an opportunity. It’s an opportunity for us to fill the void and get going. When anything — injuries happen or guys get traded, it gives opportunity for other people so now it’s our job to step up and do our part.

How challenging is this for the defence to regroup and keep things together?

Like I said, Dion is a big part of it but having said that, we have a plan that we can cycle anybody in there. The plan doesn’t change now that he’s gone. We all know what we have to do, we all know our assignments and our expectations and it’s our job to step up and make sure we keep each other accountable.

Is it tougher to focus and get ready for the game?

I don’t know, it’s maybe a little bit of both — not to give a politically correct answer, but it’s human nature. You lose a friend, it’s hard, it’s sad. But at the same time there’s a little different energy in the air of you’ve got something to prove. Obviously things are going to be happening this month and everybody to a man has something to prove about what they’re worth and what they can bring. This kind of brings it to the forefront of making you think that you’ve really got to show what you can do and prove to management that you can play. There’s a little bit of that — I don’t want to say excitement because that’s not the right word — but it’s just that oomph that you’ve got to do what you can do.

What can Calgary bring with their transition game?

They’re a skilled team and they’ve got a lot of speed. They can make plays if you give them time. Our plan is just to play well defensively, stick to the structure that’s giving us success for most of the year here and hopefully we can shut them down. They’ve got, like you said, some real skilled forwards and hopefully we can do our part.



5:30 PM:
Morgan Rielly speaks to the media ahead of tonight’s game in Calgary…

Leafs TV
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On the trade:

Yeah I think as a group we were pretty surprised by it. Whenever a trade like that happens you don’t really expect it. We, as a group — it’s tough but we’ve got to worry about this road trip. We’ve got to play tonight. We’ve got a couple more big games coming up. We’ve got to refocus and worry about what happens on the ice. He was a big part of this group and it hurts to lose him but we’ve got guys in this room that can increase their roles and really step up.

Who is going to be the guy who steps up in the interim?

It’s a group effort. I don’t think there’s going to be any one guy who takes Dion’s role. I think as a group we have to step up. We’re going to have to take on leadership roles and we’re also going to have to make up for his loss on the ice. He’s a big part of this team, one of the most vocal guys. There’s guys in here that are going to have to take leadership roles and step up. We’re capable of doing that but time will tell.

How has Phaneuf helped you in your growth?

Dion was one of those guys that really felt comfortable and I think he does that with the young guys really well. He taught us all a lot. Just watching him every day I think you learn a lot from his actions and I think that moving forward, we’ve all learned a lot from him that we can use. When you lose a guy like that there are guys in this room that are going to have to step up and take leadership roles like I said and I think we’re capable of doing that.

Does the business side shock you or is this part of the development process?

It’s just part of the business. As players you have to accept it, trades are going to happen. You might lose some friends to trades and whatnot but you’ve got to deal with it. It’s all part of the job. We have to move on, start worry about playing tonight. This is part of the game.



5:15 PM: Here’s what Mike Babcock had to say on Tuesday morning in Calgary…

Leafs TV
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On Tuesday’s trade:

Dion was our leader and a real good, good man. I’ve only had a short time to work with him besides Olympic experiences in the summers but a real good person, did it right every day, really tried to be a huge influence on our team. The problem for us is Dion is ready now to win and we’re not ready to win. It was a hard decision. I think it’s a good decision for Dion, not today, but tomorrow. And it’s a good decision for our club moving ahead and following the plan that we’ve had in place since it started.

On Cowen:

He was a player that had it going in the right direction, got hurt, hasn’t got it back. We feel we have a real good medical team, a real good medical science group. We’ll take a look at him obviously physically and do what we can to help him get his game back.

Is this a tough day for the players?

Absolutely it is. Dion is — someone’s got to step up now. Someone’s got to step up in the room and provide the leadership he provided and I can’t emphasize this enough, he did it right every single day. He did it right when he wasn’t at the rink, he did it right at the rink, he did right it in the weight room, he did it right with the coaches, he did it right with his teammates. That’s not easy to do. That’s what you need on good teams to have success. We’ve talked about that as a group already. It’s a hard, hard business at times. It’s an unbelievably great business but it’s a hard business.

On managing the last 31 games:

I don’t think like that. We’ve got a game tonight against Calgary and we plan on winning.

On the extra bodies coming into the lineup with the trade:

We’ve got a game tonight, we plan on winning and we’ll work that all out. When they show up, they show up. We’ll go from there.

Will any of them show up for tonight’s game?

No.

On DJ Smith’s connection to Lindberg:

He [Smith] better be right, eh? A little heat on him never hurt anybody… Hunts [Mark Hunter] knows him real good too — the second round pick and this kid as well, also getting us in a position as we improve as a team to be in a better cap situation.

On the captaincy:

Lou and I talked about that this morning, that [there won’t be a captain for the rest of the season] is what I said. We’ll have some more assistants and we’ll encourage guys to step up. We’re a work in progress as you know. We’ll go the course with the captaincy.

Will there be another full-time alternate captain?

Yeah, but you know what I’ll do? Bozak is injured and so on this trip we have Polie [Roman Polak] and Leo. They’re good men who do it right so Hunny [Matt Hunwick], the three of those guys do it right every day and they set a good example. Someone is going to have to be a little more vocal than they were in the past.

5:00 PM: The Maple Leafs are back at it on Tuesday night when they visit the Calgary Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.

The Leafs last played on Feb. 6 when they took a 6-1 loss at the hands of the Ottawa Senators. P-A Parenteau had the lone Leafs goal in the loss while James Reimer and Jonathan Bernier combined to stop 19 of 25 stops in the loss. Reimer will get the nod for the Leafs in Calgary.

The Flames are coming off of a 4-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night. Michael Frolik, Sean Monahan, Mikael Backlund and Sam Bennett scored for Calgary in the victory. Jonas Hiller stopped 34 of 35 shots in the win and will start against the Leafs on Tuesday.

Stay tuned for updates from Coach, the Leafs, projected lineups and more.

Source: Game Journal: Game 52 – Maple Leafs vs. Flames

Trade Him or Keep Him: James Reimer

From Pension Puppets

Optimus Reim is up for free agency this summer. Should the Maple Leafs re-sign him, or trade him?

James Reimer, Maple Leafs goaltender for the past six seasons is now eligible for unrestricted free agency.

Pre-Leafs

James Reimer was drafted out of the WHL’s Red Deer Rebels in the 4th round, 99th overall at the 2006 NHL entry draft. in the following two seasons in the WHL Reimer played 90 games, with a 34-38-11 record. He had a .914 save% and a 2.70 GAA.

Post-Junior he headed to the ECHL, and the Maple Leafs then affiliate the Reading Royals. The Royals were not very good so the Leafs arranged a trade to the South Carolina Stingrays, who were heading o the Kelly cup playoffs. Reimer would only play 6 regular season games for the Stingrays but won all 6 with a .961 sv% and 1.32 GAA. in the playoffs Reimer would play 8 games, post a 4-3 record and help the Stingrays win the Kelly Cup.

Reimer would split the next two seasons between the Leafs and the Marlies, before sticking around for mid way through the 10/11 campaign, making his first career NHL start on January 1st, 2011.

Maple Leafs History

James Reimer’s time with the Leafs hasn’t been a story book, though one on “dealing with a terrible boss” should be made about it, and it can be based on his play in the Maple Leafs only 7 playoff games since 2005, then seeing a brand new starter brought to town that summer…..

Reimer’s full time gig with the Maple Leafs came as he was the starter for the 2011/12 season. He kicked things off with a 2-0 shutout of the Canadiens, and the team would go 4-1-1 before meeting up with the Canadiens again on October 22nd, 2011 when this would happen:

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The Leafs would be adamant it wasn’t a concussion, calling it whiplash instead. The Leafs would hand over the crease to Jonas Gustavsson and Ben Scrivens for the time Reimer was off. He would return early, after missing 19 games, but wasn’t him self until the season was essentially lost.

The lockout shortened season would see the Leafs make the playoffs, and the Leafs would be out coached the entire series. Reimer played well in the playoffs, but the Bruins would score 3 goals in the final 10 minutes to force overtime, and score shortly into OT to overcome a 4-1 deficit.

That summer the management would bring in LA Kings backup Jonathan Bernier, who, despite having the same amount of experience as Reimer, was held up as a model of a “winning pedigree”, whatever that means.

Both goalies would split the crease over the next few seasons, the Maple Leafs failing to make the playoffs since 2013.

Reimer would post respectable numbers over his season with the Maple Leafs:

Trade Him!

The Maple Leafs have two goalies who could be their starters. Neither is making more than $5m+ so they are a good price, however James Reimer is only making $2.3m to Berniers $4.15m. If you want to re-sign James Reimer he will most likely ask for money near Berniers level. At that point you’ll have two goalies with good, not great, numbers, taking about just over $8m of your salary cap.

That is assuming, of course, that Reimer wants to stay. After making Bernier the defacto starter, despite what the GM’s have told the press, you could get the indication that Reimer may feel under appreciated, especially after being replaced when you took the team to their first playoffs in 8 years, and lost to the eventual Cup finalists in over time of game 7.

If you don’t trade Reimer you risk losing him for nothing. If you can’t get a reasonable extension signed, and rumours currently say 5-7 years at $4.5-$5.5m per, you need to deal him. That’s too much term for a goalie who’s never played 40 games. The best risk here is to trade him and tell him you’ll try to re-sign him on July 1st. If he really does love this team, he’d understand.

Keep Him!

Bernier isn’t the future. He’s putting up average numbers, and isn’t living up to the hype he had coming out of LA. He’s the least consistent goalie in the Leafs system and Garret Sparks has shown a lot of promise with the Leafs and Marlies this year to rival him for Reimer’s partner.

Bernier is the best option to trade, though with 1 more year of a $4.15 cap hit that could be tough. $2m of that is a signing bonus, so you could keep both this year and try to trade Bernier after July 1st when his actual Salary is just over $2m.

Reimer is a swell guy, always smiling, and truly loves playing here. He’s said he wants to be a Maple Leaf for life, and he’s one of the few who I believe mean it. He’ll do a good job of tending goal for the young Maple Leafs. his calm on ice demeanor is a positive influence for the amount of rookies that will be filling the locker room at the ACC.

What would you do?

Me, I’d push him to sign an extension before the deadline. Get some solid numbers. If it’s too far from where you want them to be, let him know you need to do whats best for the franchise and not risk losing him for nothing. You’ll reopen talks on July 1st if you can, but right now you need to keep moving.

If it’s close, keep him, keep working on the deal. The goalie market isn’t too hot with teams in need. If you let Reimer walk, you either run Bernier/Sparks or could somehow end up with Cam Ward/Bernier.

The real question here that needs to be asked is:

Will Reimer still be at the top of his game when this team is ready to win?

Source: Trade Him or Keep Him: James Reimer

Leafs Fall Behind in Ottawa, Lose 6-1

From Official Toronto Maple Leafs

OTTAWA – The Ottawa Senators needed desperately for something to go right. Pretty much everything did Saturday.

Curtis Lazar had the first two-goal game of his career and Erik Karlsson had four assists as the Ottawa Senators embarrassed the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-1.

Lazar’s second goal of the night came at 2:27 of the third period and gave Ottawa a 6-0 lead. A little less than two minutes earlier Mark Stone had given them a 5-0 lead when he beat Jonathan Bernier high on the short side.

Zach Smith, Mika Zibanejad and Bobby Ryan also scored for the Senators (24-23-6), who got a 26-save performance from Craig Anderson.

“It was good for us from start to finish,” said Anderson. “A full 60 minutes and it was great to see and a great atmosphere to do it in.”

P.A. Parenteau scored at 3:25 of the third to break the shutout and account for the only goal from the Maple Leafs (19-23-9). Bernier finished with 14 saves after taking over from starter James Reimer, who was beaten three times on eight shots and was pulled 7:38 into the game.

A quick start and some good fortune propelled the Senators to a first-period lead, but more importantly a much needed win as the they snapped a three-game losing streak and collected just their second victory in their past seven outings.

They had been outscored 13-7 in two losses since the All-Star break.

“It was a different mindset,” said Anderson. “I think we’ve had enough of the (losses) and we were sick and tired of it and our mindset tonight was a complete 180.”

Smith opened the scoring just 19 seconds into the game when he completed a two-on-one rush with Marc Methot.

Just over four minutes later Zibanejad scored on a two-on-one with Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who took a pass from Erik Karlsson as he was leaving the penalty box following a minor penalty for boarding.

Ryan gave the Senators a 3-0 lead on a routine shot attempt from the face-off circle that completely eluded Reimer and ended his night.

“I don’t know how that squeaked in, but if I stop that maybe it’s a different game,” Reimer said. “I don’t think tonight was our best. Your job as the last line of defence is to stop the puck. The guys are trying and working their butts off and sometimes they make mistakes and that’s what your goalie is for. It’s too bad I couldn’t come up with a couple of big saves.”

“The third goal was a tough goal on (Reimer) but the reality is we left him hung out to dry and then Bernie came in and we did the same thing for Bernie,” said Leafs coach Mike Babcock.

Bernier took over and made a huge stop on Kyle Turris, who was making his return to the Ottawa lineup after missing six games with a lower-body injury.

Bernier made the original stop off Karlsson but was unable to stop the rebound as Lazar gave the Senators a 4-0 lead seven minutes into the second period.

“It wasn’t good from anyone tonight,” said Jake Gardiner. “We left (Reimer) out to dry in the first period and then Bernier the rest of the night.

“It just wasn’t a good game overall. It was everyone’s fault. We weren’t ready to play.”

While it was a good win, Karlsson said they have to take it in stride.

“We can’t get too high when we win one game just like we can’t get too low when we lose one. For us it was about hitting that reset button.”

Ottawa will conclude its three-game home stand Monday when it hosts the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Leafs will play the second of a five-game road trip when they visit the Calgary Flames Tuesday.

Notes: Toronto forward Tyler Bozak left in the first period with an upper-body injury and did not return… Defenceman Jared Cowen and Forward Nick Paul were scratches for the Senators while defenceman Martin Marincin was a scratch for the Maple Leafs… Paul and forward Ryan Dzingel were both recalled Saturday from Binghamton of the AHL… Reimer entered the game tied for second in the league with a .932 save percentage.

Source: Leafs Fall Behind in Ottawa, Lose 6-1

Curtis Lazar has pair as Senators trounce Leafs

From CBC Sports

The Ottawa Senators desperately needed something to go right. Pretty much everything did Saturday night.

Curtis Lazar had the first two-goal game of his career, Erik Karlsson had four assists and the Ottawa Senators embarrassed the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-1 to end a three-game skid.

Lazar’s second goal came 2:27 into the third period and gave Ottawa a 6-0 lead.

Zack Smith, Mika Zibanejad, Bobby Ryan and Mark Stone also scored for the Senators, and Craig Anderson made 26 saves.

“It was good for us from start to finish,” Anderson said. “A full 60 minutes and it was great to see and a great atmosphere to do it in.”

Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau scored 3:25 into the third for Toronto. Jonathan Bernier had 14 saves after replacing starter James Reimer, who was beaten three times on eight shots and was pulled 7:38 into the game.

This was Ottawa’s second victory in seven games. They had been outscored 13-7 in two losses since the All-Star break.

“It was a different mindset,” Anderson said. “I think we’ve had enough of the (losses) and we were sick and tired of it and our mindset tonight was a complete 180.”

Smith opened the scoring 19 seconds in when he completed a 2-on-1 rush with Marc Methot.

Just over 4 minutes later, Zibanejad scored on a 2-on-1 with Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who took a pass from Karlsson while leaving the penalty box following a minor penalty for boarding.

Ryan gave the Senators a 3-0 lead on a routine shot from the faceoff circle that eluded Reimer and ended his night.

“I don’t know how that squeaked in, but if I stop that maybe it’s a different game,” Reimer said. “I don’t think tonight was our best. Your job as the last line of defense is to stop the puck.

“The guys are trying and working their butts off and sometimes they make mistakes and that’s what your goalie is for. It’s too bad I couldn’t come up with a couple of big saves.”

Bernier took over and made a huge stop on Kyle Turris, who was making his return to the Ottawa lineup after missing six games with a lower-body injury.

Bernier made the original stop of Karlsson but was unable to stop the rebound as Lazar gave the Senators a 4-0 lead 7 minutes into the second period.

Stone got his goal 39 seconds into the third.

While it was a good win, Karlsson said the Senators have to take it in stride.

“We can’t get too high when we win one game just like we can’t get too low when we lose one,” he said. “For us, it was about hitting that reset button.”

Source: Curtis Lazar has pair as Senators trounce Leafs

Five Takeaways from Maple Leafs vs. Senators

From Official Toronto Maple Leafs

Here are five takeaways from the Maple Leafs’ 6-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators Saturday at Canadian Tire Centre:

Early defensive lapses hang Reimer out to dry.

For more than a few games this season, Leafs goalie James Reimer made a slew of great stops to keep his team in a competitive position when their focus wasn’t where it needed to be early on. Unfortunately, the Buds gave him little-to-no defensive support to start Saturday’s game, and the Sens scored three times in the first seven-and-a-half minutes before Jonathan Bernier took over in net. Toronto’s first-period struggles are nothing new at this stage, but it’s clearly not an easy fix.

Bernier solid in relief of Reimer.

Bernier didn’t enter the contest under ideal circumstances, but the veteran made several huge saves, turned aside 14 of 17 Ottawa shots, and finished the night with an effort that couldn’t be questioned.

Toronto’s penalty-killers were perfect, but nothing worked on the power play.

The Leafs limited the Senators to three power plays and didn’t allow a goal, but weren’t able to capitalize on any of the four man advantages Ottawa gave them. The absence of injured winger James van Riemsdyk doesn’t help their power play unit, but no NHL power play thrives simply because of one player. Toronto can’t accumulate a large number of high-quality chances in close, and in today’s NHL, that usually means goals won’t follow.

Leafs’ offence remains a problem.

The Buds’ only goal was scored by winger P-A Parenteau (his 13th of the season and second in his past three games), but it came far too late – in fact, it was the final goal of the evening – to make any difference. Much like their struggles at the start of games, Toronto’s problems generating offence are well-known at this stage of the season. In the 31 regular-season games that remain, they’ll need to be better at grinding out goals, or suffer a similar fate as the one they did in Ottawa.

A day to regroup before a challenging Western trip begins.

With very little in the way of positives to take from this night, the Leafs will head back to Toronto, practice at home Monday, then depart for a four-game Western road trip for games against the Flames, Oilers, Canucks and defending-champion Blackhawks. Three of those four opponents currently are out of a playoff position, but Toronto’s players will need to re-establish a tighter defensive game in short order to beat any of them.

Source: Five Takeaways from Maple Leafs vs. Senators