I just felt like bringing up some positive talking points about my favourite team. Because the self proclaimed "realists" are depressing as hell, and there don't seem to be any threads that aren't rife with moaning. So please, lets use this thread to talk about some of the things we enjoyed watching from last season, or some of the things we can't wait to see next year.
My name is Jeff, and I am a Toronto Maple Leafs fan. I've been addicted since my dad kept me up to watch the games as a kid. Before last season, the last time I saw the Leafs play in the playoffs, I was 16 years old in high school. Seems like an eternity ago now.
Last season was an absolute blast for me as a fan, the boys brought the hard hats and literally fought and battled their way to the playoffs. We had the super-humongous-big (*Bryzgalov voice) task of taking down the big bad Bruins, just one year removed from them winning the cup.
The experts, mostly shrugged off the Leafs chances. But my god, the Leafs really weren't going to lie down. Other than some jitters in the first few games, the Leafs were going to to toe with a veteran laden, big, skilled team. They took the cup finalist Bruins to the absolute BRINK. Something something.. collapse.. blah blah blah we all know how it ended, so lets not rehash that.
But once the game 7 loss sunk in, about half an hour ago, I really realized how special of a season that was. Leading the league in hits, fights and penalty minutes with some old school rock sock em hockey.
But that wasn't all there was last year:
How about that Nazem Kadri kid?
That was a blast to watch a homegrown star player blossom in front of our eyes wasn't it? I can't wait to see how Nazzy follows up on his break through season, it will definitely be an interesting storyline to follow.
Phil Kessel shuts up critics with an excellent playoff performance/Seguin Traded
I will always remember that breakaway Kessel scored in Boston and his following celebration. That was a treat to watch. Oh and lets not pretend the Tyler Seguin trade isn't a little bit awesome. How many years have we been hearing how bad we got ripped off? Pretty quiet on that that front isn't it?
Cody Franson with a breakout year.
Coupled with his low, hard, accurate shot, he continues to improve his skating and physical game. When he wants to hit someone, they usually end up on their a$$, he's a big boy. Franson was probably the most quiet Leaf defenseman to crack the top 10 (8th) in defenseman scoring that I can remember.
Jay McClement is apparently a defensive god.
It seems we got the best free agent available, and at a bargain price last summer. McClement just relishes his role as a defensive player, and pretty much single handedly fixed our PK. He is a lot of fun to watch, and I love his compete level every shift.
Colton Orr & Frazer McLaren, Mark Fraser: The Blue Bombers.
They are just scary mofos and I'm glad they're on our side.
Lupul shows flashes of brilliance, continues his PPG pace from last season.
Yes he was injured for most of the year, but he finished with 18 pts in 16 games. Remember that end to end goal in Carolina? The Staal's are still having night terrors from that game.
JVR shows signs of top line power forward potential, steps up big time in the playoffs
JVR went to the net hard, and he battled hard for his ice when he got there. As a result, he scored some great goals in close, and also a few showing his deadly snap shot. He's a big boy still growing into his frame, and as he continues to mature, he could become a real force. His playoff performance shows, he has more to give. Can't wait to see it.
These were just a few of the highlights from this past season. Like I said, it was a lot of fun.
Along with the continuing developments of the storylines I just listed, next year's team will have a few new interesting additions looknig to make a difference.
The goaltending battle.
This is going to be interesting. I love Reimer, he battled hard for us. But this is about the team, and improving the quality of your goaltending depth, is a good team move. It will be interesting to see which one of these two young men step up and grab the job.
The Mimico Connection:
A true professional, who has battled his whole career to earn every second of playing time he gets, has just joined his childhood favourite team. If you don't know know who I'm talking about... it's TJ Brennan. I mean David Clarkson. He is going to bleed blue and white, while chipping in big time goals, from ugly areas. He will bring us some much needed size in our top 9, and will add a lot of character to the room too. Can't wait to see him flyin on his first shift trying to deck someone.
Two time cup winner Dave Bolland is joining us next year. That means Randy will finally have his checking centre he actually wanted, not the one he tried to create in Grabo. Carlyle is going to use Bolland to drive other star players crazy, and he can be really crafty offensively, there still might be untapped potential there. A guy that would've probably been a difference maker in that game 7 collapse.
Ok, well I think I've put you through enough. I really just had to vent, because we can debate contracts and money all we want, but when it comes down to it, I just want to enjoy watching my team game in, game out.
Minus a few games, I did last year, quite a lot actually.
I really don't see how next year will be any different. The skilled core is coming back, the new hometown pick ups we made will add an element of skill and character to an already competitive lineup.
All I gotta say is we brought in a few beauties this off-season.
Guys that don't need to put up solid numbers or minutes in order to be effective throughout the game. McClement was a hell of a pick up the year before, but I think the two from this off-season will pay off the most.
I have to say some optimism isn't a bad thing. Maybe a year ago I wouldn't have touched a thread like this since I didn't feel very optimistic at that point. But now things are looking pretty good so I can definitely get behind that .
A lot of good performances last year that the team can build off of. Not to mention just making the playoffs should give the team more faith in itself. What might be the biggest thing is Kessel lighting it up against Boston in the playoffs. If he can do that when the games matter most he should be able to pull that off going forward.
I'm all for the guys we've added to the lineup as well. Looking forward to seeing how the team does.
Seriously though, last season was the most fun I've had as a fan in a long time. I saw alot of growth from sources I didn't really expect like Reimer, Kessel and Kadri. Role players doing their jobs to a "t" like Mcclement and Bozak on the pk, Franson and Gardiner stepping up. A 4th line that can actually make an impact. Alot to like about this team going forward. Gotta prove it over 82 games though.
And a #2 D-man. There is no Seabrook to the Keith or a Seidenberg to the Chara on this team yet.
We all seen Jake get his mojo back in the play-offs bro right. Carlyle will be relentless i think in bringing out every possible ounce of talent Jake has in him.LOL, unfortunately it will be a high price to keep him if it happens.
We have a real solid forward group except obviously a #1c. Our defence needs work but we have a few prospects who will be filling those holes in the next few years. Hopefully one of Reimer or Bernier becomes an elite starting goaltender. Regardless they're both solid. Our forward prospect pool needs a lot of work but I believe Leivo and Gauthier are gems.
We have an excellent shot at making the playoffs and doing some damage. I believe in Carlyle and think he is the right coach for this team. Hopefully we got rid of some of the cancer this off-season.
It's up to Nonis to get us that center and stock up our prospect pool with quality players. We have to be patient (I know, I know) and let this team know we support and believe in them. I'm proud with how they played against Boston which has left me optimistic.
Well, we're finally back to being a playoff team again.
We were also the only team in the east that even challenged the Bruins in the playoffs.
Grabovski is gone, but he was pretty much our 3rd line centre last year, and Bolland is much, much better in that role.
Frattin is gone, but Clarkson is a hell of a lot better than Frattin.
Reimer and Bernier give us lots of reasons to believe goaltending is not an issue, and I haven't been able to say that in many years.
We manager to hang onto Bozak, at a fairly reasonable price.
So in the end, we're a young team with playoff experience that kept it's core intact and clearly improved in the off-season. This is the first time in years where I'm optimistic and not lying to myself.
Looks like Nonis has gone all in concerning Kadri being top 6 ready as he has jammed up the 3C and 4C with capable defenders. I am hoping the kid makes a good showing and plays a strong 2C for most the season. There's enough toughness throughout the lineup now that he'll have backup for his yapping.