Leafs Need Help On Defence

It is no secret that the Toronto Maple Leafs need to improve their blueline if they have aspirations for a deep playoff run. In fact, it may be a necessity to even keep their playoff spot. The team currently has one of the leagues best defence pairs playing this season in Tomas Kaberle and Bryan McCabe. McCabe leads NHL defencemen in points and Kaberle is also among the top 10. The two blueliners are also one and two in ice time. They have carried the load and then some for the Leafs.

Though the rest of the defence has been adequate, the dropoff from McCabe and Kaberle is significant. Often this season we have seen the likes of Ken Klee, Aki Berg, Alex Khavanov, Staffan Kronvall, Wade Belak and Carlo Coliacovo be exposed at some point. The game plan that has worked for opponents is to wear down the top pair and roll their top players against the Leafs weaker D. It has worked. How many times have we seen one of the rookies or the likes or Berg or Belak against the opposing teams best players?

Klee has been steady at times, but has looked slow many other times and teams are starting to take advantage of that. Khavanov has been physically punished game after game and it has started to show in his play. Berg has been much better playing with a pair of rookies than he was with Wade Belak. That may have been the best move by the team all year by ending the Belak as a blueliner experiment. Kronwall and Coliacovo have proven that they are NHL calibre but still, are rookies with plenty to learn.

Despite the fact that McCabe and Kaberle are out there for half the game, they simply cannot do everything. Though the two enjoy the big ice time, it remains to be seen how much left they will have in the tank towards the end of the year.

This is why I think it is pressing for the Leafs to get something done to improve their defence.

However there are a few obstacles standing in the way of the Leafs.

1. Cap Room

The Leafs are one of the teams that is close to the cap maximum. The team probably has about $2-3 million in room. That includes the assumption that Jason Allison meets his bonuses. The Leafs must leave as much room as possible under the cap in order to cover themselves in case of injury. And since the team has many players who are injury risks, it may be more important to them then other teams to keep cap space right up to the trade deadline. Not only is Toronto interested in keeping the dollars down, but also staying away from the older players with long term deals. I have to believe the team wants to keep as much cap room next summer as possible in order to be more active in the free agent market. This is especially true because the age of free agency is declining beginning next year. The thing is, can the Leafs afford to wait that long to fill such an important need?

2. Abled Assets to Trade

GM John Ferguson will have to do quite the juggling act to get the help he needs without hurting team chemistry and stripping the team of all of it’s youth as in past regimes. There is few players if any in the Leafs organization outside their parent roster that have any value at all to other teams. Really besides top pick Tukka Rask and some high draft picks, the Leafs have little to offer. The Leafs could very well offer Coliacovo in any deal however the question is, is it worth giving up a cheaper young player for a rent a player? or a player in their 30s with more than 1 year left on their current contract? We always seem to hear the usual names on the block such as the likes of Berg, Nik Antropov, Alex Ponikarovsky. The problem is that how much of an improvement would they bring? Another 5-6 defencemen which they have an abundance of? And since Antropov and Ponikarovsky are young, cheap players who are doing OK, it may be best served to keep them. When you think about it, the Leaf forwards have done an fine job and though slow, they are fairly deep and decent enough to compete with any team. But if the team moves a higher profile player like a Tucker or an Allison, it will weaken one area but strengthen another. Like I said, it’s a tough balancing act for JFJ to handle. It hurts the team significantly not having a real deep farm system to afford to move assets.

3. Too Much Demand, Not Enough Supply

Like I said, the Leafs needs help on D. There is no question about that. However, there are 29 other teams that could use some help as well. Even the Ottawa Senators would probably like to add another blueliner for the playoffs. It isnt because they are not good enough. I feel Ottawa has the league’s best D. however if an injury or injuries hit, they could be in trouble. I think they would love to add an experienced 7th defenceman to the team for depth purposes. You can never have enough defencemen on your roster. So the competition for available blueliners, if any, will be fierce. Because of point number two listed above, it is very likely the Leafs would be outbid on any of the better defencemen available on the trade market. It may result in the team standing pat and hoping for the best. That would be the worst case scenario especially if the Leafs are in a playoff spot. Anything can happen in the playoffs, and it would be best to give your team the best chance to win.

So who could the Leafs target? Almost every team is still in the running for a playoff spot as they are only about 30 games in. But here are some possibilities:

Keith Carney or Ruslan Salei – the Ducks have made things pretty clear that the team is looking to free up some cap space. this is why the team rid themselves of Fedorov. Both of these blueliners will be free agents next summer and are not likely to be in the team’s long term plans. They are both mobile and can move the put but they earn their stripes with strong play in their own end. I think Toronto would have to part with one of their two fine young blueliners whether it be Kronwall or Coliacovo. I think Anaheim is first going to look to move Sandis Ozolinsh and try to piggyback Petr Sykora in any deal involving one of their D. Ozolinsh is on a multi year deal which may be near impossible to move. And he would not at all solve the Leafs defensive woes.

Jordan Leopold – With the emergence of Dion Phaneuf, Leopold has seen his production drop significantly. perhaps it may be his concussion history that has also affected his play. Either way, Leopold may become expendable as Calgary may feel the need to add more scoring support for Jarome Iginla. Leopold is a fine puck moving blueliner who is young and comes relatively cheap. I believe the first name that Darryl Sutter is going to mention in return is Darcy Tucker. If that were the case, I think the Leafs and Flames could probably put together a multi player deal. I am sure the Flames would want a Dman in return for depth and the Leafs probably would be interested in a forward or two for their depth. It would be very difficult for JFJ to part with Tucker I am sure but he just might be the most marketable player on the Leaf roster.

Jassen Cullimore – Cullimore has not lived up to standards after signing a big multi-year deal with the Hawks. With the emergence of some of their young blueliners like Brent Seabrook, perhaps to free up cash, they could dump Cullimore. I think he would help Toronto as he is fairly mobile and has good size and takes care of his own end. However these are the types of players I think Toronto should stay away from. Those locked in longer term deals while in their 30s. It would be a risky proposition however it would also probably cost Toronto little in terms of trade.

Bob Boughner and/or Kurt Sauer – These two are riding the pine in Colorado. They were beaten out of a job by Brent Clark which either says alot about Clark or proves how far players like Boughner and Sauer have fallen. It will cost Toronto little to acquire any one of those players. and since they are both making under 1 million, it wont break the bank either. However how much a help would a couple of 7th defencemen be? I think Toronto would be better off letting the kids play than waste a spot with a journeyman who would offer little impact. They also probably would have kept Bryan Marchment if they were interested in this type of player.

Steve Staios – This guy is an underrated player. He can move the puck and provide some offence, yet he has alot of grit and heart making him tough in his own end. I am really not sure if the Oilers would move him or not but if they did, there would be alot of teams interested. Staois is one of those players that winning teams always seem to have. Kind of like Darryl Sydor in both Tampa and Dallas, or Shawn Chambers in Dallas and New Jersey. They never hurt their team and always seem to do the little things all over the ice. It is hard to place a value on a player like that because the team that has thing values these players greatly. I think if Staios were to be moved, he would be part of a big package to bring Edmonton a high profile scorer or goaltending help.

Willie Mitchell – If Toronto wanted to quietly add an effective defensive defenceman who gets the job done, can log big minutes and can go up against top forwards night anfter night with no glory, then Mitchell would be their man. Toronto could definitely offer a package starting with Coliacovo to get a guy like Mitchell. He is still young, plays hard and would be a great fit to the team in need of defensive stability. He is also a well schooled player with lots of smarts. I think Toronto needs more of that from their defence. If I had a choice, Mitchell would actually be my first choice for Toronto to try and get.

Eric Brewer or Eric Weinrich – Brewer has fallen on hard times in St Louis. He has game but simply is not the sum of his parts just yet. He can skate, he is big and strong, he can move the puck and QB the powerplay, he can play physical in his own end. He loves joining the rush. But he simply teases scouts with his talents and some nights just isnt around. In St Louis this year he hasnt been around at all either with shoddy play or being hurt. He would be someone I think Pat Quinn would favor in acquiring. He has played for Quinn internationally and I think Quinn feels he could help Brewer turn the corner to become a more complete player. Kind of like how McCabe has been much improved from his years in Chicago, Vancouver and Long Island. It also works to Toronto’s advantage that JFJ has ties with the Blues and is very familiar with how their management operates.

As for Weinrich, he is a solid veteran who could really help depth wise. I think he would be instantly the Leafs 3rd best Dman. He could run the 2nd powerplay yet also be their for the PK. I think because of his age, him being a free agent next summer, there would be many teams who would be looking for exactly this kind of player at the trade deadline. I think he would be a fine addition to Toronto as a rent a player provided that the price to acquire him is reasonable.

Well there is just a few names that Toronto could look into. You will notice that none of them play in the Eastern Conference. I just feel that teams wont trade within the conference anymore with the schedule like it is, loaded with division and conference matchups. There are several attractive players in the East who could be available such as Brendan Witt, Janne Niinimaa, Richard Matvichuk, Jay Bouwmeester, Sean Hill. But I dont think it is likely that those teams that own these players will trade them within the conference. I think it would take a pretty big package to have that happen. But who knows, there are plenty of Mad Mikes within the East that could really shake things up.

We will have to wait and see what happens. I think the next 10-15 games are going to be huge for Toronto as that will really decide what direction they go. If they are winning alot and playing well, they could probably wait until March, but if the defensive woes continue, JFJ may need to do something to shake things up. Hockey interest is great nowadays, so why not a few trades to spice things up some more.

126 Responses to Leafs Need Help On Defence

  1. 19AVSFANFoLIFE19 says:

    so the leafs defence is good?

  2. 19AVSFANFoLIFE19 says:

    so what are you saying leafs have been good defensively then?

  3. 92-93 says:


    the article is about trying to IMPROVE the Leafs’ defence!

    your comment suggested that you saw the title and didn’t need to read on … suggesting that you’ve already made a series of conclusions about the article or about the Leafs without actually reading the article.

    i am criticizing the fact that you ARE POSTING ON A THREAD THAT YOU DIDN’T READ.

  4. muckies says:

    Actually, The Maple Leafs were a regiment in the Canadian Army.

    just thought because you are a life long fan, i should tell you.

  5. 19AVSFANFoLIFE19 says:

    but posting on something that i know quite a bit about. i live in a leaf family and they all admit there D is terrible.

  6. habs_punk says:

    Good post

    Gotta jump in there behind the other Leafers? Feel part of the team?

    This isn’t msn, posting “lol” is a complete waste of space, time, brain cells, etc.

  7. habs_punk says:

    Just when I thought the retarded Leaf rumors were starting to die down…

    Antropov has never had any trade value, and he still doesn’t. Quinn is the only one that thinks he can play in this league. His size is his only asset, much like Kilger, and you see how he turned out. Czerkawski has even less trade value that Antropov. I doubt you could find any GM in the NHL that would accept these two guys if the Leafs tried to give them away. Khavanov has a little trade value as a depth defenseman, but at most, he’d be an add-in to make a trade more even or balance out salaries. However, at $1.25 million you won’t find many takers for his services.

    Bottom line, you wouldn’t be able to land even one of those three players with the package you proposed, let alone all three.

    And just for nostalgic purposes… how’s this trade sound?

    Wilm + Belak + 5th round pick


    Naslund + Bertuzzi

  8. habs_punk says:

    Suffering from prospect envy? Steen will never have the career Roberts had. Wellwood living up to Allison’s standards isn’t all that impressive, but I highly doubt Wellwood will notch 90+ points, maybe in the new NHL but there’s a lot of players able to do that now it seems. Ponikarovski will never, ever be as good as any of the three players you mentioned, unless you were talking about Marcel Hossa, in that case you might be close. To suggest Ponikarovski will be the next Marian Hossa only shows your complete and total lack of hockey knowledge. Kronwall the next DeVries, meh I doubt he’ll be as steady as DeVries, but it’s the only semi-realistic prediction you made. Tellqvist as the next Belfour? You’re joking right? First off, the Leafs NEVER, EVER allow their goalie prospects to develop to the point of being an NHL starter. The Leafs will make a hard run and any and all free agent goaltenders when Belfour retires. I don’t see Tellqvist ever getting a chance at the number one job in Toronto. Besides, with all the hype surrounding Pogge, it seems like everyone’s forgotten Tellqvist anyways.

  9. Mullet says:

    That Toronto Boston rumour has been reported at least 3 notable sources. CBS has reported it, Eklund has reported it, the other however has not been revealed. However, the deals are different from what the CBS said, the other two reported it would be Ken Klee, Nik Antropov and Justin Pogge for Glen Murray and either Nick Boynton or Hal Gill. However, other rumours have said the Leafs may need to switch Pogge with Colaiacovo if they want Gill or Boynton. However, I beleive this deal will happen very soon and the Leafs will be minus Klee, Antropov and Colaiacovo but plus Glen Murray and plus I would believe probably Hal Gill as he makes less than Boynton.

  10. the_canadian_game says:

    i think it would make more sense for both teams to replace murray with samsonov. the leafs need somebody faster

  11. 92-93 says:

    I am liking the suggestion by Shoalts from the Globe and Mail that when Kronvall comes back from injury both he and Coliacovo stay with the big club … meaning that Czerkawski will be dumped in the short-term and Berg will be dumped later on via a trade. what essentially could happen is that the leafs take on both the young defencemen for a 7-man unit with each of Berg, Coliacovo and Kronvall taking turns sitting.

    My earlier suggestion of trading Khavanov and Tucker to Calgary for Simon and Leopold could certainly be adjusted to include Berg instead of Khavanov.

    here’s Shoalts article:


    “[Breg] should be placed on waivers, and if he cleared, sent to the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League, the Leafs’ farm team. The wealthiest club in the NHL can well afford to eat the $700,000 (all figures U.S.) left owing on Berg’s $1.064-million salary. Besides, the Leafs would get $700,000 worth of room on the $39-million salary cap. But that is not about to happen.

    What will probably happen, although not right away, is that Berg will be traded. There are, surprisingly, teams that have an interest. He is big and he can skate, something general managers find attractive. In the meantime, room will be created for Kronwall by waiving Czerkawski or Wade Belak. Belak is not playing and is taking up $665,000 of cap room.”

    BUT, my question is – who will take either one of these guys??? Shoalts suggests that they can play for the Marlies – but i just don’t see that happening.

    Belak is apparently liked by Quinn because of his ‘flexibiliity’ (insert b-job jokes here) at playing both D and forward (which is he actually unable to play neither position) and because he is a fighter (perrott is gone and Domi is in decline). my earlier suggestion at trading for Leopold and Simon (who is a fighter who is not in as much of a decline) would help here. Hey, a defence that consists of McCabe, Kaberle, Klee, Leopold, Coliacovo, and Kronvall is OK by me (assuming Berg and Khavanov are eventually traded).

    none of these speculations are likely, however, – for a lot of reasons. one of the main ones is that Quinn seems to like Berg and Belak way too much.

    “The Leafs are at the 23-man roster limit now, and are within hailing distance of the salary cap, so if they do not opt for the easy way out — demoting either Kronwall or Colaiacovo, neither of whom has to clear waivers — then one of the veterans has to go. Czerkawski, Belak and centre Clarke Wilm have been the healthy scratches in recent weeks. Wilm is not going anywhere because he is a solid physical player and a good faceoff man. Besides, the Leafs would never get him through waivers. That leaves the other two, with Czerkawski the favourite to go to the Marlies. That will leave the Leafs with seven defencemen and set up a rotation, with Berg, Colaiacovo and Kronwall taking turns sitting in the press box. Then, perhaps some time in January when enough of his salary has been paid out to entice a few teams into making an offer, Berg will be moved to another NHL team.”

    my thinking is, Berg and Khavanov are good depth-defence guys that other teams would want to trade for. moreover, for teams with a lot of defensive depth – like calgary – they would not trade guys like Leopold unless there is a defenseman coming back the other way (like nords suggested) … and both of these guys are perfectly capable NHL defensemen.

  12. 92-93 says:


    and it looks like Quinn is finally going to break up the McCabe-Kaberle pairing so that McCabe is paired up with Khavanov and Kaberle with Klee.

    I hope that McCabe and Kaberle will play together on the PP though!

    I think its a necessary move to lessen the load a little on the two.

  13. 92-93 says:

    do you not realize that the very subject of this thread ADMITS that the leafs D is terrible?

    how can you not understand that?

  14. Adam_0486 says:

    this thread is by far the funniest of all time, im literally tearing up laughing so hard

  15. 92-93 says:

    here’s my line proposals for tonight’s game against the Ducks:





    [Domi, Belak, Czerkawski]

    Now its not likely that Quinn will bench Domi (and THAT is what is wrong with the Quinn-era leafs – too much loyalty. In all likelihood it will be Domi on the last line RW with Wellwood or Antropov centring it. Something HAS to be done with Czerkawski – especially when Kronvall and Khavanov come back. when they do, keep Colliacovo and Kronvall up with the big club, put Czerkawski on waivers (he will clear them) and he can play with the Marlies for the rest of the season. if there are a lot of injuries on the forward lines, the Leafs can bring him back up along with Battaglia or Pohl.

    On defence:





    when Khavanov and Kronvall come back:




    [Berg – rotate the #5-#7 D-spots until the trade deadline.]

  16. 92-93 says:

    well, Lindros is out this game and Khavanov, surprisingly, is back. it looks like Quinn continues to play McCabe and Kaberle together (great for the PP, horrible for 5-on-5). Good news: no Belak, and Wilm is playing (Wilm is clearly the best of the non-regular forwards, compared to Belak and Czerkawski).

    the line-up for tonight’s game appears to be:





    [Belak, Czerkawski, Lindros]




    More good news, Coliacovo is really impressing me right now. this guy should be playing with this club with Kronvall – no question about it. if the leafs are serious about winning, they must play their young guys – which is a sad commentary on some of their veteran players. of the leaf’s top 9 +/- players (with a +1 or higher), SEVEN are young guys: Wellwood, Stajan, Steen, Kronvall, Coliacovo, Ponikorovsky, Antropov.

  17. 92-93 says:

    just a little research here:

    toronto has 7 players with 20 pts or more (9 with 15 or more when you add in Wellwood and Sundin, and 12 players with 10 pts or more).

    only Colorado and Vancouver has this many players with 20+ points. Most have a few of guys with 30+ points and then there is a huge drop-off until the next guy who has like 12 points or something. actually, in terms of offensive depth, Colorado and Toronto have the best offenses. I am not including Detroit because after their 9 guys with 20+ points (which is impressive), there is a HUGE drop-off with Stevie Y coming up next with 9 points. the NYR have Jagr and about 5 other guys and that’s about it (but with their improved D and Lundqvist, it appears to be enough. come playoff time though, if a team shuts down Jagr, the Rangers are done).

    here’s some of the league’s other offenses stack up:























    in terms of depth, it looks like Colorado, Toronto, Detroit, Ottawa, Vancouver, and Philly are the deepest. surprisingly, Pittsburgh and San Jose are not as deep as many thought (although SJ are getting amazing production from Marleau and Thornton).

  18. 92-93 says:

    just some random thoughts on how the leafs should be simultaneously looking to improve themselves for the remainder of this season and for the 2006-2007 season. and the answer is simple really:

    1) get a mobile defensive-defenseman (even if you have to trade an Allison, Tucker, Lindros, O’Neill to get him).

    2) play a better, more consistent defensive game (which the leafs have been doing in the past month or so, but there are still missed assignments, and they are still getting badly outshot).

    As a leaf fan that wants to see this team suceed with a mix of ‘young veterans’ and young players, I say that the above four players should all be on the block or at least tradable. the ONLY young guy who could/should be traded at this point is Antropov, but i’d rather see the more expensive and defensively inept/lackadasical Tucker and O’Neill go.

    I’ve already proposed some trades that the Leafs could make to Calgary – for guys like Leopold and Warrener – at the expense of guys like Tucker and even Allison.

    i am reluctant to see Allison go this year – even at the deadline for a solid D-guy – because I know he is going to get much better. he is top-30 scorer and a point-a-game player right now too. but he might be the only valuable trade commodity that could bring in a solid top-3 defenseman (although Tucker could garner that much as well – contrary to some of the more unknowledgable/emotional non-leaf fans out there). Berg is also a trade commodity – for a low-round draft pick or as part of a trade package involving tucker and allison (again, his faults are often blown way out of proportion by leaf fans and non-leaf fans alike).

    as i said before, the leafs need to trim the fat with guys like Belak and Czerkawski. send them to the AHL, put them on waivers. no one will claim them, i know, but get them off the 23-man roster! make room for Coliacovo and Kronvall, who could solidify the #5-#6 d-spots or paired up with Klee and Khavanov respectively (this should give you an idea of how bad the veteran players in toronto are playing: our best players are our young guys and rookies, who – despite their rookie mistakes – still play more responsibly/consitently then the veteran guys). Berg can be cycled into the line-up just like Wilm is on the forward lines. however, i know this will not happen because Quinn is too loyal to Berg.

    that brings me to my last point. this loyalty must end! Quinn must end is mind-boggling allegiance to Berg and Belak. JFJ must end his comfort-zone allegiance to the Blues organization (although it did get us Pohl, but Khavanov is hardly the replacement #4 D-guy the leafs need). Czerkawski has not been around long enough for Quinn to get attached to him so that is the ONLY reason why he will be sent on waivers to the Marlies. I understand the unfortunate situation with O’Neill and why he came to the Leafs but he is not playing well enough to remain on the team. trade him or let him go.

    it is quite clear that the 7 forwards (Allison OR Lindros, Tucker and/or O’Neill, Domi, Czerkawski, Belak) and 2 defenceman (Berg, Khavnov) that the leafs can do without – via trade or via waivers or simply letting them go in the offseason – will cut the necessary salary needed to re-sign guys like McCabe, Klee, and Kaberle and possibly go out and get other free agents.

    so, for 2006-2007:

    make a deadline deal trading Allison for a solid D-guy (i.e.: Allison and Berg to Calgary for Yelle and Warrener or Leopold) – strenghtening the D, creating more room with the salary cap, and enabling JFJ to be choosy in which defensemen he can resign in the offseason.

    the forward lines for the remainder of the season would look like:





    [Wilm, Belak, Czerkawski]





    In the offseason, it’s bye-bye to either O’Neill or Tucker (for argumentative purposes we will say O’Neill) and Domi, Belak, Czerkwaski, Khavanov … and hello to someone like Mike Johnson of the Coyotes and Battaglia from the Marlies:





    [Wilm, Belak, Czerkawski]

    Pohl and Williams could be brought up as injuries on the forward lines (re: lindros) dictate. On D, Brad Brown can come up and fill the 7th D-guy role:





    In case of injuries, Harrison and White are both playing well for the Marlies and could be inserted as well.

    Overall, the payroll would be reduced even with the raises to guys like Kaberle, Klee, McCabe, Lindros, Tucker, etc.

  19. 92-93 says:

    not too long ago, i constructed a comparison between Leafs goalie prospect Pogge and Hab prospect Price. now i cam going to do the same with the Sens’ back-up Ray Emery and Leafs’ back-up Mikael Tellqvist.

    sounds like a lop-sided comparison in favour of Ottawa? well not so fast.

    considering the differences in size and considering the amount of hype arround Emery and – surprisingly – the lack of hype within or outside of Leafland about Telly (LACK of hype in Leafland? since when did that ever happen?!), it may be surprising how similar their stats are:

    Tellqvist (5-11, 194 lbs.):___4-2-2____2.36 GAA____18 GA___1 Shutouts____.924 Sv%___238 Total Shots Against

    Emery (6-2, 203 lbs):______6-1-1____2.09 GAA____18 GA___1 Shoutout____.923 Sv%___238 Total Shots Against

    Hmm, not much of a difference huh? and yet if you listened to the media, you’d think that Ray Emery was the best back-up goalie since Corey Shwab! i think Emery has played awesome, but Telly doesn’t have the D that Emery has in front of him, so although they have similar shots-against totals, i can assure you that the kind of scoring chances that Telly has to stop are far more difficult then Emery’s.

    in any case, Telly has played well and people are just starting to notice.

  20. 92-93 says:


    first, some angering news today. the geniuses that are Quinn and JFJ have decided to send Kronvall down instead of keeping him with the big club. the reasoning is that they don’t want him to sit any games. fine. but here’s a grand old solution guys: trade Berg or Khavanov for almost nothing!!! so that both Kronvall AND coliacovo – both whom are cheaper, younger, and have outplayed the likes of Khavanov and Berg – can play regularly.

    the good news is that the leafs are not going to try Belak on D anymore and the way the leafs are falling to injuries as of late, there will be another one on the d-corps which will require Kronvall to return to the big club. but at least we know that any deadline deal for a defenseman should include a package one of Berg or Khavanov along with whatever forward they are willing to part with.

    speaking of injuries: gone are Lindros, Antropov (for a long time apparently), and Domi. In are Wilm (good), Belak and Czerkawski (oh brother). and they are taking on the #1 team in the nhl in their rink and who beat them 8-0 last time out. this is going to be fun, but you never know what will happen in a Sens-Leafs game. the line-up:



    Tucker __________Wellwood________Stajan


    [Domi, Lindros, Antropov]




    i wished pat quinn would break up the McCabe-kaberle duo on 5-on-5 situations so that the ice-time is split more evenly. both McCabe and Kaberle just can’t play good D together.

  21. 92-93 says:

    some random thoughts:

    1) what is the most disturbing thing about this loss – more disturbing then the 8-0 loss is this: Belfour is just not the same goalie he once was and it is clear that Telly needs to start more (even if that means Belfour is going to get more and more pissed as the year goes on). sure the leafs hung him out to dry most of the game but in the 3rd period – where he gave up those 4 inexcusable goals – the leafs actually outshot ottawa 15-9! all that being said, Belfour’s groin is bothering him and its obvious. it is also obvious that he has no confidence in his team and he tries to do too much. if the leafs played better in front of him, belfour would have better numbers. period.

    2) you can’t give the Sens 11 powerplays!!! are the leafs even thinking here?! 5-on-5 the leafs were outscored by the sens 2-1 and only a -4 for their team totals – it was on the PP that they were blown-out. absoultely ridiculous.

    3) it makes no sense that the Sens get up for the games against the leafs more than they do for any other team. i could understand it they were playing Buffalo – who is chasing them in standings – or Detroit – for first overall – or Carolina/NYR/Philly for first in the conference. but toronto? who is clinging on to 8th in the conference? why? well the obvious answer is (proudly) that the leafs have beaten ottawa 4 times straight in the playoffs. so regardless of where toronto is in the standings, the Sens have a chip on their shoulder. of course this sucks for Leaf fans that a team with the offensive power will take on the Leafs EIGHT times this year (playing a team with the lack of D) thanks to the schedule makers.

    4) if i were pat quinn, i would simply tell my troops this:

    ‘guys, we take the Sens 4 more times this season and each time should be an OPPORTUNITY for us to see where we are at. obviously, where we are at in mid-dec and in late-oct is not where we should be (judging by our losses to the Sens). HOWEVER, what is MORE IMPORTANT are the games that take place for us between and until the beginning of January. we our not going to be fighting with the Sens this year in the standings so those games should only matter in terms of a playoff tune-up or taking stock of where we are and how much we’ve improved. but in terms our next 8 games, we will be taking on the teams that are going to try and gun for the 8th spot or who we will be gunning for over the next few months:

    NYI, Bruins, Bruins

    NJ, Pens, Buffalo, NJ, Pens

    also, the schedule in January is going to be hard -mostly on the road against Western Canadian teams and two in a row in Ottawa. so if we win the bulk of our next 8 games, we will be in good shape going into January.’

    all right. well hopefully Quinn will get his troops ready for these games and get them off of their losses to the Sens because, they really are not that important. if the leafs can simply improve on their play against them for the remainder of the season – which will not be hard to do – then they will be making progress right up until the face the Sens in the playoffs (IF that happens of course).

  22. 92-93 says:

    additional observations:

    1) even with their injuries to Lindros and Antropov, the leafs have the offensive depth to outgun anyone in the league and an amazing powerplay. they have capable goaltending (although Telly needs to play more often). it is only their defensive play (that includes their forwards) that needs to improve. keep bringing up the young guys (keep Kronvall up), trade Berg and Tucker for a #3 or #4 D-guy, acquire Friesen via trade (when he comes back from injury in February) using a low-round draft pick to replace the defensively-unconsious Tucker on the left side. these are seemingly minor moves but they add up to a lot.

    most importantly, buy into whatever defensive scheme that Quinn is cooking because its obvious that nothing is happening on D these days. what is amazing is that the Leafs have actually not given up that many goals compared to the rest of the East (only Philly, Carolina, Ottawa, and NYR can be considered to be WELL above the Goals-per-game average of the Leafs) and yet can you imagine if they simply started playing better D? they would be tough to beat!

    2) i want to end on this note and quote from Pat Quinn: “They want to play easy right now, maybe they think they’re pretty talented, but I don’t give a damn, if you’re talented and don’t want to work and don’t want to accept the responsibility to battle for the puck or hold your position or play a little bit of defence, then you’re not going to win hockey games and that’s the way we are right now.”

    Quinn was commenting on the second goal the leafs gave up. BUT what i wanted him to say ‘then you’re not going to PLAY hockey games’ – meaning that he would be willing to reprimand and even sit key guys even for a hockey game. i know, they are thin right now but something needs to be done. these guys have to be held accountable! and they’re not. they are rewarded with playing time and they get a couple of wins in a row and then they RELAX! and THAT is why they are so inconsistent this year. its frustrating because you know the ONLY reason why the leafs are not in the top-5 or top-6 in the East is because they COAST through some hockey games. absolutely ridiculous.

  23. 92-93 says:

    important game tonight for the leafs as they try to put some distance between them and the Isles and try to keep up with Montreal in the standings. that being said, WAY too much is being read into the leafs losing tonight and the Isles passing them into 8th spot. don’t get me wrong, 2pts now are just as important as they are later on. But the leafs are hitting a tough stretch with regards to injuries. they need to win their next 8 games no doubt and battle through all of this (janurary schedule is really nasty). but as a leaf fan, i am weary of how everyone exaggerates the leafs’ ‘osing skids and winning streaks.

    injuries: Lindros, Antropov, Domi, and now – Steen (very bad news indeed).

    however, John Pohl is being called up to fill in which should be very interesting. apparently he is a pretty good two-way player himself, and he is JFJ’s little pet project that he brought over from the St.Louis organization a few months ago. hope he does well in his first game for the leafs.

    once again i hope quinn breaks up McCabe and Kaberle in 5-on-5 situations but he probably won’t. I DO want to see Belfour in net because he deserves a shot a redemption. telly can play the next game against Boston.

    here’s the possible line-up:









  24. 92-93 says:

    congrats to Eddie for win #448. what is so funny is that he gives up only 2 goals 3 games in a row and he can’t win them. he gives up 6 tonight and he wins it. this is the story of the 2005-2006 maple leafs.

    the reffing WAS TERRIBLE. i dont care what anyone says about me being biased. no excuses for this group of refs (but it should not be a surprise with LaRue reffing). the leafs came back – wonderful. O’Neill gets kneed – probably the most blatant knee-on-knee i’ve ever seen, no call. If O’Neill is injured for an extended period of time, i say keep Pohl up and maybe bring up Battaglia to play on the right side (even if Domi comes back this week).

    Kyle Wellwood made a case for tonight for getting more ice time even WHEN THE INJURED PLAYERS COME BACK.

    Telly will give Eddie a night off this week (probably in Boston) and hopefully the consistency will return to Eddie’s game and with the Leaf’s play overall. it certainly wasn’t there tonight – regardless of the ref’s calls.

    offensively the leafs are among the best in the league. a 40 point defenceman, a 25-point defenceman, rookies with 20 and 19 points who also play strong in their own end. young guys like Poni and Stajan who are amazing and dangerous PK killers with 15 and 13 points respectfully.

    despite their poor play in their own end, the veterans are putting points on the board: Allison cracking the top-30 in scoring with 32 points (and the top-10 in assists, not bad for a 2nd-line centre), Lindros, Tucker, O’Neill all hitting 20+ points and 10+ goals. finally, mats sundin has 18 points in 20 games despite having troubles hitting the net.

    so that’s 11 players i’ve just reeled off (and i haven’t mentioned the solid play of Antropov and Klee going both ways).

    the problem is, of course, is their inconsistency (both offensively and defensively) and the fact that right now, they are taking loads of penalties, playing poor defence, and getting loads of injuries.

  25. 92-93 says:

    just a note on the PK play of Stajan and Poni:

    they are both in the top-5 in PK points (Stajan leads in points, Poni leads in goals). McCabe is in the top-10 and is tied with Stajan for PK assists.

    i think only LA has a more dangerous PK unit.

  26. 92-93 says:

    just some corrections, the sens do not have the deepest forwards or offense in the league. the DO have the best offense but there is a difference.


    well its quite simple, teams like the leafs, wings, and Avs all have a ‘deeper’ offense. the sense have a set up superstars and then a bunch of role players but no one in between. i posted this weeks ago (Dec 12) so the stats need to be updated but these are still the deepest offenses. here you go:

    both Atlanta and ottawa have 2 players with 50 points or more. Carolina, Colorado, Detroit, TB have a bunch of 30-40 pt guys. only Colorado, Detroit, Edmonton, and Toronto have so many 20 point guys. Buffalo, Colorado (again), Dallas, LA, Ottawa, Philly, and Toronto have a bunch of double-digit point players.

    judging from these stats. it looks like the deepest offenses are not runaways in their categories. teams like Atlanta are top-heavy with offensive talent. others – like Ottawa, Colorado, Detroit, Edmonton, LA, Philly, and Toronto have it spread throughout their line-up.

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