Rob Longley - December 10th, 2013
Here’s what Leafs fans should be looking forward to the most in the HBO 24/7 series that is scheduled to debut this weekend:
In a preview video released by the league, Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul talks about his years playing under Leafs coach Randy Carlyle. Essentially, Lupul says, one of the coach’s key commandments is that “everything stays in the dressing room.”
Under the prying eyes of HBO, not everything will remain there, of course, but how much of Carlyle’s personality, and those of the players, will be revealed.
The cameras have been trailing the team for a week now and in Sunday’s game vs. the Boston Bruins at the Air Canada Centre, an HBO shooter between the player’s benches seemed focussed on the Leafs coach for most of the game. How much footage was worth using in documentary form? We’re about to find out.
Rob Longley - December 9th, 2013
Despite blank looks of denial all around – from Dion Phaneuf himself and coach Randy Carlyle as well – the Leafs didn’t seem to think their captain had done anything wrong when he stapled Bruins defenceman Kevan Miller head-first into the boards on Sunday night.
The league, however, obviously feels differently. The department of player safety, headed by Brendan Shanahan will be taking a close look at the third-period play and don’t be surprised if there’s a game or two in it for Phaneuf.
Take a look at the video yourself and see what NHL sheriff Brendan Shanahan will need to consider. As you can see, Phaneuf gets a good hit on the Bruin, who was already heading towards the ice after being chopped down by Toronto forward, David Clarkson.
Certainly not in the league of Pittsburgh’s James Neal and Boston’s Shawn Thornton from the night before, but it could land Phaneuf a game or two, an absence the Leafs can ill afford.
Interestingly, Phaneuf’s response when asked about the hit was to ask a reporter what he thought. Carlyle’s answer was to question a Dennis Seidenberg headshot on the Leafs’ Jerry D’Amigo.
Rob Longley - November 18th, 2013
Twenty games into this NHL season, Leafs coach Randy Carlyle is still waiting for his team to show its true identity.
Getting healthy and away from the long arm of the NHL law would certainly make that easier and it appears that help is on the way.
Centre Tyler Bozak participated in his first full practice Monday morning at the Mastercard Centre and is hoping to return to the lineup if not by Thursday night for Saturday’s big home date with the Washington Capitals.
Nazem Kadri has one more game to sit in his three-game suspension so won’t be available for Tuesday’s meeting with the Islanders but will be back Thursday for the Nashville Predators. And the team’s leading scorer, Phil Kessel, who missed Monday’s practice with what Carlyle called the flu, is expected back Tuesday as well.
The absence of Bozak was made even worse with David Bolland’s injury leaving the Leafs desperately short at centre. But Bozak felt strong enough to participate fully in a fairly taxing practice Monday.
“I’ll just take it day by day,” Bozak said of his status. “It felt good today. Things are getting better. Without a setback, I hope to be out there by the end of the week.
“It’s been getting better. Hopefully it keeps improving. The guys have come in and done a great job. We’ve still been getting wins and that’s the most important thing.”
Bozak said the injury occurred on a fluke play in a game against the Blue Jackets.
“It was just behind the net there in Columbus – a freak accident and I just tore the tendon and muscle in my hamstring,” Bozak said. “Obviously it hurt bad there for a bit.
“I’m not going to jump in if it’s not ready, but hopefully (Thursday.)”
Rob Longley - November 18th, 2013
The Maple Leafs are back on the ice Monday morning following Friday’s 4-2 win vs. the Sabres with some notable new looks.
For starters, the team’s leading scorer, Phil Kessel, is not participating. No official word has been given by the team but we will update after Randy Carlyle updates the media following practice.
In more optimistic news, centre Tyler Bozak is participating fully in the session, suggesting he is close to returning from the hamstring injury that has sidelined him since Oct. 25. Bozak is on injured reserve and eligible to return to the active roster later this week.
With Kessel out, the top trio at practice consists of Joffrey Lupul and James van Riemsdyk on the wings between centre Peter Holland who was acquired from the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday.
Also absent for most of the practice is defenceman Mark Fraser, who left Saturday’s game with a lower-body injury. Fraser started the practice but left early.
Again, we’ll update with the updates when practice is done.
Rob Longley - November 14th, 2013
As expected, Leafs forward Nazem Kadri was suspended on Thursday for steamrolling Minnesota Wild goalie, Niklas Backstrom on Wednesday night.
In the ruling released Thursday afternoon, NHL disciplinarian handed down a three-game sentence to Kadri meaning he will miss both ends of the home-and-home series vs. the Sabres beginning Friday night in Buffalo.
Shanahan made the point that the hit wasn’t intentional but that Kadri could have done more to avoid the contact. See the official ruling video from the league here.
Interestingly, the league did not appear to factor Kadri’s second big hit in Wednesday’s game into the ruling. In the third period of the 2-1 shootout loss, Kadri ploughed Wild forward Mikael Granlund into the boards and was ejected after being assessed a match penalty. Replays of that hit, however, showed no contact with the head and the league rejected the severity of the play.