A new hockey season is here! Spirit is Everything again, except even more this time, with less losing, hopefully. A very warm welcome to any new readers here in the General Area. I'm going to try and spin out posts with a little more consistency again, but I usually get a little depressed in January/February, so we'll see how it goes.
First of all, let's kick things off with a little house-cleaning: I have a few announcements.
Francois Beauchemin won the poll for "favourite new Leaf" in a tight race over Kadri and Gustavsson. Bozak and Stalberg, for some reason, were left off the list, so we'll never know how that would have effected the voting. Congratulations Francois, I'd say you deserved it. Judging only what I saw in the pre-season, it looks like Beauchemin is a very solid defender.
The other poll I conducted recently was your favourite goaltending tandem. The winners were Potvin and Rhodes, with Vesa and Gustavsson close behind. Thanks to everyone for voting. I was gonna do a "Larry Murphy" poll, but ended up doing the goaltending one instead. I think it's safe to say that, with a late surge, the Vesa would have won the "Larry Murphy" trophy by a landslide.
Last announcement before I begin rambling: There's a new poll up. Wilson has announced his 3 Alternate Captains for the season (or, the time being) and (gasp!) none of them are Luke Schenn. Even more puzzling is the fact that he suggested the issue would be revisited again in a month, with a full-time Captain possibly being named in November (when it really matters! Oh wow, The Berger Prophecy is true?!). So - who do you think should be Captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs? One of Wilson's chosen Alternates; Kaberle, Beauchemin, Komisarek, or my (our) choice, Luke Schenn. If we don't decide, Ron Wilson will do it for us. You have 30 days. Go.
Okay, enough with the formal pleasantries, let's get ready to RAMBLE!
MON 4(OT), TOR 3
Disappointing result, but Montreal loses Markov for four months, so there's a big picture here. The Leafs controlled the play well, but couldn't finish and seemed to lack the killer instinct needed to put it away. They worked hard for that 3-2 lead and then let it slip through their grasp. Do I sound like I'm talking about a Paul Maurice coached-team? Shudder. C'mon Wilson, Hanta Yo, Baby.
...is on pace for 162 goals. Awesome. That joke is going to be hilarious for about another 15 hours. Unfortunately, Matty didn't register an assist on opening night so I don't see how he's going to repeat his 40-assist performance this year when he's currently on pace for zero. In all seriousness, Stajan played a great game and was maybe the best Leaf on the ice. His first goal was a beautiful deflection off an equally beautiful feed from Tomas Kaberle on the powerplay. His second goal, also on the powerplay, came from going hard to the net and cashing in a loose puck off a Jason Blake stuff-in attempt.
The Vesa's save percentage is off to a rocky start. Do you think it'll go up or down after they play Washington and OV? Not that he was to blame for Thursday's loss, uh... entirely, but he didn't exactly impress too much either. Some good saves, but no biggies, and ultimately, one less then we needed. Still, we did get a point, which keeps Toskala's bizarre individual streak of not having lost an NHL game in regulation alive and up to 14 games. His last recorded defeat in regulation goes all the way back to a 2-0 loss to Carolina on January the 19th. His record over those 14 games is 4 wins, 1 OT win, 2 Shoot-out wins, 4 OT losses, 2 Shoot-out losses, and one no-decision.
The Zebras were not our friends on Thursday night, but in Toronto they never are and they're never going to be. We have to make our own rules. If Komisaerk has to spend 15 minutes in the box to get the point across, so be it. The main thing is to get the penalty-killing to the next level. If opponents know they will be punished for crossing the line, and realize that taking the punishment for the sake of a powerplay is mostly pointless, the payoff will be well worth it by December.
I Could Go On...
...and I guess I will. Primeau (4:22, -1) was on the ice too much doing too little, and Orr (1:28, 5PIM) wasn't on the ice enough...
...the Leafs had 46 shots but most of them were soft...
Are you playing SPG? I had Poni in the 1st period for the goal. I'm gonna be ultra-competitive about it this year 'cause I heard the winner gets Chemmy's job. Don't blame me if that isn't true...
There's a lot of really good new blogs out there. I've tried to keep up and added quite a few to the sidebar. The Blogs of Distinction will probably stay the way it is for awhile, but the Web of Distraction continues to grow and grow and there's a lot of really good material worth exploring. If you think you should be in there and for some reason I've missed you, drop me a link in the comments...
Also, THE TRUTHULENCE is fun and doing pretty well, so I think I'll keep that up. I'm hoping by the end of the year it'll make an awesome coffee table book. I've added all the blogs to the blog roll over there, and as you'll see if you check it out, the Barilkosphere has gotten HUGE. Congrats to everyone, keep 'er goin', and best of luck this season.
Don't forget to vote in the poll. Thanks for dropping by.