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Leafs need to improve performance in face-off circle.

Leafs centreman Tyler Bozak has won only 43 per cent of his draws in the post-season.

Down 2-1 in their first round series against the Boston Bruins, the Toronto Maple Leafs need not look far for the answer.

The Bruins are dominating the face-off dot.

Overall, the Bruins have won 58 per cent of the face-offs in the series.

The Bruins have gone 91-73 in even-strength face-offs and won an astonishing 15 of 21 draws when down a man.

While that eight percent advantage does not seem huge, the Bruins have won 10 more face-offs a night than the Leafs.

From the Leafs point of view, the statistics are downright gruesome. […]

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Kadri looking to find a little quiet time.

Less can be more for Nazem Kadri.

Less can be more for Nazem Kadri.

If you need more evidence that the playoffs stand in polar opposite to the regular season, consider this fact.

Nazem Kadri doesn’t have to stand out. He doesn’t mind at all.

Going into the post-season, it was assumed the Leafs needed Kadri to counter what had been a dominant streak of play by the Bruins in handling the Leafs number one line.

The thinking was with the number one line of Tyler Bozak, Phil Kessel and either Joffrey Lupul or James van Riemsdyk more or less […]

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Why Randy Carlyle should play Jake Gardiner

The Leafs have a chance for a little more of this.

Randy Carlyle has a fascinating choice to make in light of the series-ending injury incurred by Mike Kostka.

Carlyle can insert Jake Gardiner or Ryan O’Byrne into the lineup.

Certainly, O’Byrne has played more. Acquired at the trade deadline exactly for this kind of situation, O’Byrne last played April 24 against Tampa, a week after Gardiner.

The six-foot-five O’Byrne has played 308 NHL games and 19 post-season contests which, you should know is 19 more than the 22-year-old Gardiner.

That said, Carlyle should go with Gardiner.

The Leafs have a chance for a little […]

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Game 1 aftermath. It’s human nature.

ulmer500may2

The Leafs played a poor game in Boston and lost Game 1 by a score of 4-1.

Yes, every nightmare scenario came true. The Leafs were overwhelmed. James Reimer was beaten to his glove side.

Jinkies. Must be the apocalypse.

Let me tell you a story.

When my Dad read my first published story he was dumbstruck with fear. He thought I must have plagiarized it.

Two things. First, thanks Dad.

Second, what we care about deeply is often the subject of our worst, most irrational fears.

I think you see where I am going with this.

Game […]

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Ten questions the Maple Leafs need to answer

Leo Komarov will have to do a lot of this against the Bruins

The Maple Leafs open the playoffs in Boston, Wednesday night. Perhaps you’ve heard.

The Leafs success will largely be determined by how they answer these ten questions.

What’s Tyler Bozak’s status?

Bozak expects to play after a full practice Tuesday. “We’ll see how I feel in the morning but all signs are leaning to I’ll be ready to go,” he said. Bozak’s season confounds stats freaks who look at a scant 16 assists for a player who gets first-line minutes but his importance as a face-off artist can’t be overstated. Without Bozak, who […]

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Leaf face-painters unite.

Leaffan

You know you’re dealing with a diehard Leafs fan when you go to shake hands and they have to take their foam finger off.

There were about 150 of the faithful at Air Canada Centre’s Gate 5 Monday for a promotion called Wendel Says.

The inducement was 10 pairs of playoff tickets as well as copious swag but the people would have come regardless to share the same oxygen as Wendel Clark.

These were the real fans, the face painters, the blue wig-wearers.  Nineteen year-old Justin Waldman was awash in blue.

Oshawa’s Justine […]

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So It’s Boston…

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So, it’s Boston.

The Leafs will open the playoffs Wedesday in Boston against the skidding Bruins who fell 4-2 to the Ottawa Senators Sunday night in Boston.

The Bruins, coming off a string of seven games in 10 nights have gone 3-5-2 in their last 10 games to set up the first playoff series between the teams since 1974.

To put that in perspective, Bobby Orr was a 25-year-old 122-point defenceman the last time the two teams met in the post-season. For posterity’s sake you should know Boston swept the Leafs.

The Leafs will be […]

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Reimer a worthy candidate for Masterton

For a nice guy, James Reimer can hang tough.

There is an unusual resiliency in James Reimer the Leafs nominee for the Masterton Trophy given to the NHLer who shows perseverance, dedication and sportsmanship.

Dedication. Check.

Sportsmanship. He says nothing but nice things about anyone. James Reimer is Richter scale nice, nuclear nice. Another check.

But dedication and sportsmanship are minor elements in the Masterton debate. It’s really an award about perseverance.

On the surface, Reimer’s stick-to-itness is just slightly above grade. He has rebounded very nicely from a head injury this year to continue the steady progression of his career.

You can even […]

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On Andrew Moffatt, Wendel and being there when times are tough

Andrew Moffatt and his dad Bob.

Andrew Moffatt had the gift of making people comfortable in the toughest circumstances.

When his uncle Joe was dying of ALS, Lou Gehrig’s Disease  a few years ago Andrew was the one who brought the donuts for the vigil.

There are few places lonelier than a hospital room bereft of hope but a wellspring of kindness in every vigil comes from the people who bring the donuts and fill up the room with talk.

Conversations, remembrances, stories, are a link to a world outside the hospital where people aren’t sick and life continues […]

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No Looking Back To Last Year

reimer488ulmerpar15

The Leafs’ impending return to the post season has made talking about last year seem silly.

Indulge me.

Here then are the 10 reasons this year’s Leafs team need never again be mentioned in the same breath as last year’s team.

1.   James Reimer. Reimer has emerged as one of the league’s most dependable goalies. His return to health stands as the major reason why the Leafs lowered their goals against to 2.63 GAA from last season’s dismal 3.16.

2.   The penalty kill. While the Leafs power play numbers haven’t changed from last season, […]

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