(March 4) After playing to a draw in Pittsburgh, the boys in blue cross the border into Canada Thursday for an appointment with the Maple Leafs. In the first three meetings of the four-game season series, the Isles went 2-1-0, winning both games at the Coliseum.
The Isles home and home with the Penguins earned them just two points, as they fell in overtime at home Sunday against the Penguins, and played to a tie Tuesday in Pittsburgh. The team has to turn around a stretch of games that's seen them win just once in their past five contests. On the plus side, they picked up at least a point in four of those games.
Against the Penguins, Mark Parrish picked up his first goal since returning from his high-ankle sprain. In his first four games back, he's had a goal and an assist, while creating several scoring chances. It seems like his adjustment period is over, as he saw time in every situation Tuesday, killing penalties and moving the puck while paired with Dave Scatchard and Cliff Ronning.
The Book on the Maple Leafs
There were complaints a week ago, when Toronto lost to Carolina, and worry when they were defeated the next game by Florida. Things reached a boil though when a third consecutive loss came at the hands of the Lightning. But, as is normally the case, a shutout win over the defending champion Devils solved all ills up north. On the attack, it's all or nothing, as the team is ranked eight in goals, but have given up the second-most shutouts.
Mats Sundin is the high scorer in Toronto, leading the team in goals, assists and points. With 63 points, he is over 20 points ahead of the next best Leaf. Sundin's mastery ends at plus/minus though, as Tomas Kaberle owns the best rating, with a +15. Tie Domi's 167 penalty minutes are the most of any Maple Leaf. Bryan McCabe is the top blueliner, with 41 points and over 25 minutes of ice-time.
Tomas Kaberle's helped keep the Leafs' attack going, despite slumps by several of the team's scorers. With four points in his last three games, and 15 points in his last 20 since returning from a shoulder injury, Kaberle's provided the consistent effort the team has needed from the defense. He's also been a +6 in that span. He's had an assist in two games against the Isles this season.
(March 4) The Toronto Maple Leafs enter tonight's game in a dog-fight for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Every game is important for the Leafs as they are also battling the Ottawa Senators for the Northeast Division lead. They're currently on a crucial six-game home stand, which they are 2-0-0 through the first two games, so far. They last played the Boston Bruins on Tuesday, a game which they won, 3-2. For the first time this season, Toronto has all of their regulars in their lineup and uninjured.
Where They Stand:
The Maple Leafs are once again one of the top teams in the NHL. Entering Wednesday night's games, Toronto was in a four-way tie for first place in the Eastern Conference with the Philadelphia Flyers, the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Senators. All four teams had 84 points, with the Senators and Lightning in action in different games, entering last night. The Leafs have a record of 26-19-9-3 in 67 games played. They have also posted nearly identical records, in terms of wins and regulation losses, for home and away games. At the Air Canada Centre, Toronto has gone 18-10-2-2. In their last 10 games overall, they have posted a 5-5-0-0 mark.
In December when they won in Pittsburgh, Jason Blake said it seem the Isles had a tough time getting motivated for the Pens. Looked that way the last two games.
Tonight should be all the motivation they need. Big question is how is DiPietro's knee.
From there the Isles have to get back to work. Hunter had to give this team what he was giving them nightly before the Kings game. Players have to step up and this powerplay has to get back to where they were.
Isles are 2-1 against Leafs with a one goal loss in Toronto. No reason not to put in sixty minutes and take this game.
Big game tonight. A close game or Isles Win and I'll be optimistic about our playoff chances.
Ditto. I love these guys, but they just really perturb me. I want nothing less than a win here. THIS game should be more intense than the Rangers games, mainly because if you beleive in your team as much as your fans try to beleive in it, you WILL meet these guys in the playoffs. Let them know we're coming after them again.
Isles have not really had a lot of luck in ACC. Let's hope they can come out competitive and show up. I can already smell that Leetch in the lineup for the Leafs is probably gonna play a factor against the Isles. If Ricky is OK, then he should get the nod. I have been feeling real uneasy the last few games with Snow in net. Let's just hope everything is ok with Rico...
6-2. Shots had to be less than 15. I dont know whether the Leafs played a helluva game(which it seemed like they did) or the Isles just kind of handed them the game. But I dont care, it doesnt seem like they are putting much effort into their play, ala last year.
By the by, can someone PLEASE explain to me why Bates is on this team? The more I watch him, the more the criticism of him makes sense to me.
If these players don't want any changes made to the team before the trade deadline (as Scatch said on the pregame show), they have a funny way of showing it. If I were Milbury, I'd start dialing fast and furious.
The Leafs skated much faster than the Isles and probably controlled the puck 80% of the game. BigPeca, I don't think the two late goals showed a "no quit" attitude on the part of the Islanders. The goals were just a result of Toronto letting up when the job was done. The season series ended 2-2, but you'd never believe the Isles could beat the Leafs if you only saw this game. Ricky did hold them scoreless in the second period, and that's about the only positive thing I can say about the game.