Archive for March, 2012

Leafs recall Scrivens

- March 31st, 2012

The Maple Leafs will have a complete Marlies look in goal on Saturday night when they play host to the Buffalo Sabres.
The Leafs recalled goalie Ben Scrivens from the Marlies on an emergency basis, and indications are Scrivens will start against Buffalo. Scrivens joins fellow Marlies goalie Jussi Rynnas on the Leafs roster. Rynnas had been recalled when James Reimer started experiencing headaches this week.
Jonas Gustavsson took a shot off the left knee during the pre-game warmup on Thursday, and though he practised in a limited role on Friday, is not ready to play. Gustavsson took part in the morning skate on Saturday, but will not dress against the Sabres.
Coach Randy Carlyle said on Friday that if Gustavsson was not good to start, he would not dress, hence Scrivens’ recall.
Scrivens played in eight games for the Leafs in November, going 2-4-1 with a .904 save percentage and a 2.96 goals-against average.
The Leafs take a franchise-record 11-game home losing streak into the game. They’re 0-8-3 in that span.
The hot Sabres cooled off a bit when they were beaten 5-3 by the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night.

Liles, Reimer have not been the same

- March 30th, 2012

Concussions have hurt the careers, in the short term, of a couple of Maple Leafs this season, coach Randy Carlyle figured.
Goalie James Reimer and defenceman John-Michael Liles have not been the same since suffering them.
“Concussions have set some people back here,” Carlyle said. “They have really played a major block in some progress this season.”
Liles has just four points in 28 games since missing 16 games after registering 21 in 34 games prior to being hurt on Dec. 22.
“I think his positioning on the ice and his ability to join the rush, I think he can skate more and be involved more,” Carlyle said. “Defensively, he has been caught in a few situations, poaching when he should not be poaching. Those are the little things.”
Reimer is experiencing headaches again and likely is done for the season. He originally was hurt on Oct. 22 and never truly regained his form.

GIVE IT AWAY NOW
Watching video of the Leafs’ 7-1 loss against the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night was painful for Carlyle.
“One area that was glaring was we had 29 turnovers between the tops of our circles and the opposition’s circles,” Carlyle said. “That leads to you playing a lot more defensive-zone coverage and time in our zone versus any time in offensive zone. You just can’t do that. You don’t have a chance for success playing that way.”

One last chance …

- March 30th, 2012

The Leafs really have nothing to play for down the stretch and the players are taking the concept far too literally.

As little heart and pride as they’ve shown the past week, it’s hard to imagine a shift in the remaining four games, but if they have anything in them, a home-and-home series against the Buffalo Sabres would be a good chance to show it.

The Sabres – who are at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday and play host to Toronto on Tuesday – are a division rival fighting for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Leafs, who have rolled over to too many teams, have a chance to show some competitive fire and at least made it difficult on the Sabres.

We said it in our recap of Thursday’s 7-1 loss to the Flyers, but the resistance the Leafs offered to a Philly team that has been a decent rival over the decades was embarrassing. Losing 11 in a row at home  has no explanation and no excuses. The “Let’s Go Blue Jays” chants Thursday night were impossible to ignore, but will there be any response on Saturday?

A couple other morning-after thoughts:

* Defenceman Carl Gunnarsson said the Leafs troubles are mental. “It’s probably between our ears,” Gunnarsson said. “It’s just no confidence in ourselves, in each other. That’s what it feels like.”

* Coach Randy Carlyle was asked about captain Dion Phaneuf tussling with rookie Brayden Schenn late in the game. (No real punches were thrown so it was hardly a scrap.) Carlyle didn’t really address that incident, but took the Flyers Scott Hartnell to task for not scrapping Mike Brown.

* Interesting to see Phil Kessel a more regular participant in post-game scrums lately. We’re just guessing here, but it wouldn’t be a shock to learn that some one on the coaching staff or management team has strongly suggested that he become more accountable.

 

Carlyle can’t say if Reimer will return

- March 29th, 2012

There’s a strong possibility the Maple Leafs won’t have the services of goalie James Reimer again this season.
Reimer was nowhere to be seen on Thursday morning as the Leafs prepared for their game against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Reimer is out with an upper-body injury. He missed 18 games after he suffered a concussion against the Montreal Canadiens on Oct. 22.
“There will be probably a point where there will be a decision made if he is going to return or not,” Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said. “I think that is in the medical people’s hands right now. We just have to wait from clearance from everybody involved to put the player back on the ice.
“The time frame, I can’t give you that because I don’t know it. Is there a drop-dead date? I am sure there is going to be something. When that is, I don’t know.”
Jonas Gustavsson will start against the Flyers and will be backed up by Jussi Rynnas.

Quiet times coming for Leafs Nation

- March 26th, 2012

Members of Leafs Nation could go into some sort of withdrawal in the coming weeks.
There has been and will be dissection of what has gone wrong yet again with the Maple Leafs as another non-playoff spring looms.
Lots of angst, wonder, worry, concern, anger.
And then, for a couple of months, the Leafs will slide almost completely out of view.
The months of April and May are about the only two on the annual calendar during which the Leafs approach anything close to irrelevancy in the Toronto market.
No playoffs, and there’s not much else for the team to do. Sure, the Marlies might have a nice playoff run, but few pay attention to upper-level hockey around here unless there’s a Leafs logo on the front of the sweater.
In the past, player signings in the spring have been limited to the likes of goalies Jussi Rynnas and Ben Scrivens, who might become something in the NHL but weren’t when they were signed. In other words, nothing of consequence is done.
General manager Brian Burke got some heavy lifting out of the way when he fired coach Ron Wilson on March 2 and replaced him with Randy Carlyle. Had Wilson remained, he almost undoubtedly would have had less than two weeks remaining in his tenure behind the Leafs bench. And there would have been plenty of speculation about a new coach, but, given what we know now, one has to think Carlyle would have been hired fairly soon after the position became vacant.
The month of June will rev up with preparation for the entry draft in Pittsburgh, and then attention will to turn to free agency on July 1.
The eight or so weeks prior, though, will be the usual quiet at the Air Canada Centre.