Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Random Thoughts As The Leafs' Buns Are Still Red Hot

* Justin Pogge got his “pants pulled down”, plain and simple. Considering he was playing his second NHL game, and his teammates were displaying their best Andy Wozniewski impersonations, I’d say he’s deserving of a mulligan. While a couple of the goals were stoppable, it begs the question if ANY goaltender could of garnered a solid performance with the abysmal performances that were displayed in front of the netminder last night.

* I’m just throwing this out there, but does anyone notice Lee Stempniak on the ice? I sometimes forget he’s on the team.

* Stajan has 0PTS in his last 6 games. This is a little concerning considering his production during the first half of the season, but it’s nothing to burn police cruisers over. A quick glance at the Leafs’ roster will prove that every player, in every position, has endured cold streaks. It’s part of the process of rebuilding, as the Leafs’ core consists largely (and will only continue to) of young players.

* After watching the Leafs’ dismal performance last night, I can’t help but wonder if Pogge should stay clear of the Leafs altogether this season. While easing him in with the occasional game sounds like a logical plan, the Leafs’ defense will play no part in this thing we call, “logic.” One could argue that more time in the AHL will only halt his progression, but I can’t help but think the Leafs will only shatter his confidence if he were to assume the goaltending duties for the Blue and White . I mean, as nice as it is to blame the defensive woes on Vesa Toskala’s struggles, yesterday was a clear indication that the Leafs’ defense are not capable of maintaining order in their own end – even Schenn was a walloping -4.

* While Ron Wilson’s comments are considered egocentric by many, even Don Cherry had to respect his comments towards his fallen goaltender last night. “Obviously the first goal was not very good but then we pulled down his pants,” Wilson said. “Our goaltending has not been good this year. This is an opportunity for Justin. He’s going to get more opportunities. He’s going to be a great NHL goalie.” That may not seem like a Hallmark moment, but for Wilson, this is an act of defending his goaltender and placing the blame almost squarely on his defenders, who, deservingly so, need a serious adjustment in their own end. Wilson said it best: “We don’t have enough guys who care about each other. We have a few guys who should look in the mirror and say: ‘I’m not trying hard enough in my own end. I’m cheating in order to get easy points.’”

* “Enjoy Michael Cammalleri the rest of the season, because on July 1, he’ll be a Toronto Maple Leaf, making almost as much money as Jarome Iginla” – Eric Francis, The Calgary Sun. A player like Cammalleri is exactly what this franchise needs. His speed and offensive prowess would be instantly recognized, and considering his age (26), how can you go wrong? 7 million per season seems a little excessive, but if Burke can lock him up anywhere around the 6 million vicinity, the Leafs will have possession of an integral piece to their rebuilding plan.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Jason Blake a Valuable Commodity?

Don't look now, but Jason Blake is on pace for 25 goals and 56 points (in 78 games).

And don't give your eyes a rub, that's actually on your computer screen, folks.

While Don Cherry is red in the face over the coaching of Ron Wilson, Blake couldn't be happier. After registering a disappointing 15-goal (although he did have 51 points) campaign in 2007-08, Blake has flourished under Wilson, scoring 14 goals so far this season.

Blake may lack the defensive game to establish himself as an effective two-way forward, but considering his +1 rating, he's obviously doing something right.

Blake is most effective, however, as an energetic forward who uses his speed and tenacity to create scoring chances down low.

All that said, I'm going to come right out and say it: Blake does not belong on this team.

I don't care how much he improves, he just doesn't fit.

Blake is best utilized as a top-six forward. So, what's the problem? The Leafs lack top-six forwards anyway, right?


The Leafs are a rebuilding team. So, how exactly, does Blake fit? He doesn't implement any sort of leadership to the line-up, and at 34, he's not exactly a young stud. Even if he was there for leadership, isn't that why character players like Mayers and May were acquired in the first place?

Wilson may be responsible for the re-emergence of Blake, but the signing was a mistake ever since John Ferguson Jr. signed the dotted line two summers ago.

Blaked is signed on for three more years after this season, possessing a hefty cap-hit at 4 million dollars. It's important to note, however, that he will be making a fair 3 million dollars during the last two years of his contract.

And this, ladies and gentleman, could play a big part in the potential trading of Blake at this year's Trade Deadline.

If Blake can keep producing as an offensive juggernaut (he now has 7PTS in his last 4GP), the Minnesota-native may generate some interest once March 4th swings around.

It's entirely possible the Leafs continue to be handcuffed with his lucrative contract, but don't be surprised if Burke ends up unloading him, even if it's for a mid-round draft pick (although I would imagine the Leafs would be taking some salary back).

So, what do you think? Is a trade possible? Do you want him off the team? If so, what type of return are you expecting?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Reimin' It Up

*I'll be honest, I don't even what the hell this title even means, but it gave me a chuckle, so I hope I get a cheap laugh out of ya'*

You know what really grinds my gears?

James Reimer has been a forgotten player amongst the Leafs' prospect cupboard.

Take a look at his statistics throughout his career thus far:

[b]Red Deer Rebels (WHL)
2005-06: 34 GP, 2.81 GAA, .910 SV%
2006-07: 60 GP, 2.66 GAA, .912 SV%, 3 SO
2007-08: 30 GP, 2.73 GAA, .916 SV%, 1 SO

[b]Reading Royals (ECHL)[/b]

2008-09: 14 GP, 3.43 GAA, .901 SV%

[b]Toronto Marlies[/b]

2008-09: 1 GP, 1.85 GAA, .926 SV%

I know what you're thinking. Not exactly earth shattering stats, right?

But consider this: Reimer has had the misfortune of backstopping mediocre teams throughout his entire career.

And that hasn't changed for the year 2009. Reimer has earned his spot on the Leafs' ECHL affiliate, but he's been granted a woeful team in the Reading Royals (13-25-2 record - good enough for second last in the league).

As far as his game is concerned, wrote the following:

"Reimer doesn't have much of a problem filling the net. His style has been described as simply coming out of the crease and challenging shooters to find space around his large frame. When he is on his game, the lanky netminder uses his size to cut down angles and plays a controlled game. He also displays decent puckhandling skills." - HF

Sounds similar to Justin Pogge. And considering Leafs fans have witnessed just how important size can be between the pipes (I'm not pointing any fingers, but I'm pointing directly at you, Vesa Toskala), the large frames of the Leafs' upcoming goaltending prospects will be greatly appreciated.

In terms of Reimer's future, there is a variety of scenarios that could unfold:

[i]Scenario #1 (Most Likely):[/i] Justin Pogge becomes the Leafs' starting goaltender for the 2009/10 season, leaving the door open for Reimer as the Marlies' goaltender.

[i]Scenario #2 (Likely):[/i] The Leafs pursue other options between the pipes, and continue to let Pogge develop in the AHL, forcing Reimer to either a) stay with the Royals in the ECHL, which would allow him to log more ice-time, or b) serve as Pogge's back-up in the AHL, injecting a healthy dose of competition between the two.

[i]Scenario #3 (Unlikely):[/i] Toskala is traded at Trade Deadline, Pogge is called-up as starting goaltender, and the Leafs enter the 09-10 season with a young goaltending tandem of Pogge – Reimer.

Pertaining to scenario #1, I think this would be the most feasible and approachable option for the Leafs right now. While Reimer has progressed nicely, he is still at the tender age of 20, so some seasoning is still required if he is to maximize his potential.

Best case scenario: Leafs fans are treated with a future goaltending tandem of Pogge – Reimer and the duo compete for the starting role, which a) inserts some healthy competition between the pipes, and b) assures the Leafs of the more talented goaltender (Tukka Rask...*sigh*).

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Please note that I will be on vacation to Cuba from Jan. 19 to Jan. 26, 2009.

I'll be back after the all-star break.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Where Is The Canadiens' Captain? Koivu Still Bothered By an Ankle Injury

The Canadiens' captain last played on Dec. 11, 2008, against the Lightning. Ever since his ankle injury, Saku Koivu experienced various problems delaying his return in the Habs' uniform.

Koivu suffered his latest setback yesterday when he was forced to leave the ice during practice because of lingering pain on his injured ankle. As a result, the team doctors ordered him to take a few days off the ice to rest his ankle.

This guarantees Koivu won't be back before the All-Star break and maybe more. The Finnish captain has now missed 15 games in a row and since the Canadiens are playing well without him, this will likely put an end to his tenure as the Habs' captain.

Earning $4,750,000 this season, Koivu, 34, is in the last year of his contract and he's set to become an unrestricted free agent. Unless Koivu accepts to take a large pay cut to stay in Montreal, I highly doubt GM Bob Gainey will tender an offer to his ageing captain because of the numerous UFAs or RFAs the Canadiens will have to retain at season's end.

Alex Tanguay, Alex Kovalev, Robert Lang, Steve Begin, Tom Kostopoulos, Mike Komisarek, Francis Bouillon, Mathieu Dandenault and Patrice Brisebois will all become UFAs, while Chris Higgins, Tomas Plekanec, Gui Latendresse and Kyle Chipchura will become RFAs.

Would you keep Koivu? Or is it time to pass the torch to a younger captain (AKA Komisarek)?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Senators send Gerber to Binghamton of the AHL

As per TSN:

The Ottawa Senators announced Thursday that goaltender Martin Gerber has been sent down to the AHL's Binghamton Senators on a two-week conditioning assignment.

Gerber, 34, has a 4-9-1 record with a 2.86 goals-against average and .899 save-percentage in 14 games this season. He was a healthy scratch in Ottawa's 5-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday and Wednesday's 3-2 win over the Thrashers in Atlanta.

He last saw action in a 6-4 loss to the Bruins in Boston on Jan. 8.

In 100 games with Ottawa, Gerber is 49-36-8 with a.907 save-percentage and a 2.76 goals-against average. In 214 career NHL games, he has a 104-73-7-14 record with a .910 save-percentage and 2.61 goals-against average.

Waiter! A Cold Miller On Ice For The All-Star Game Please!

With Carey Price being more and more doubtful for the All-Star game, the league will likely have to find him a replacement. The Eastern Conference's backups being Tim Thomas and Henrik Lundqvist, who gets the third spot?

If we look at the statistics of the other candidates, Ryan Miller emerges as the likely replacement for Price. Ranked second in the conference with 19 wins, Miller has already four wins in January. His GAA and his save percentage are both ranked sixth in the conference. Miller is also leading the conference with three shutouts (tied with three other goalies).

Miller, 28, has bounced back from a subpar season in 2007-08 where he only won 36 wins despite playing an enormous 76 games. The Sabres even missed the playoffs for the first-time in three years.

The Sabres currently ranks seventh in the Eastern Conference only one point ahead of the Panthers who are currently ranked ninth. Without Miller's strong play this season, the Sabres would be way out of contention.

Other candidates include Scott Clemmensen and Craig Anderson (1A goalies who replaced respectively Martin Brodeur and Tomas Vokoun).

Maple Leafs Mid-Season Awards: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Halfway through the season, the Toronto Maple Leafs have 16 wins, 21 losses, six overtime losses for a total of only 38 points in 43 games. They currently sit in the 11th spot of the Eastern Conference, nine points out of a playoffs spot.

It's time for the mid-season report card.

The good:

Nik Antropov: The giant Russian is having a good season with 33 points (13 goals and 20 assists) in 43 games. He's been very consistent on a line with Stajan and Ponikarovsky. He also has avoided the injury bug as of today... Burke should trade him before he goes down with an injury.

Matt Stajan: Stajan, 25, is having the best season of his short career so far. In 37 games, he has 32 points (ten goals and 22 assists). He missed six games with a freak soccer incident two weeks ago. Stajan is thriving under Ron Wilson after he was a healthy scratch earlier this season.

Alexei Ponikarovsky: The Poni Express is having a surprisingly good season after a very ordinary 2007-08 season. Ponikarovsky, 28, has notched 14 goals and 16 assists for 30 points in 43 games this season, only five fewer than last season. He also has a good plus/minus differential at plus-3.

The bad:

Jason Blake: After a very slow start, Blake has produced a little bit more lately, but that's not sufficient for a player of his caliber. In 39 games in 2008-09, Blake has only ten goals and 14 assists for 24 points while getting plenty of ice-time. He has been made a healthy scratch a few times by Wilson to no good avail. His inflated salary (thank you John Ferguson!) makes him almost impossible to trade.

Mike Van Ryn: Acquired from the Florida Panthers in exchange for Bryan McCabe, Van Ryn has been injured most of the season. A talented offensive defenseman, Van Ryn has always been a band-aid boy and he is proving it this season having only played 17 games, notching three goals and six assists. He is currently out with a concussion since Dec. 19, 2008.

Lee Stempniak: Acquired from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for Alex Steen and Carlo Colaiacovo in early December, Stempniak has been nothing short of a deception. After registering 13 points in 14 games with the Blues, Stempniak has slumped mightily in Toronto, notching only three goals and five points in eight games.

The Ugly:

Ryan Hollweg: After 25 games with the Leafs, Hollweg is already on his way out. He has had as many suspensions as he had points (2) this season and with the arrival of Brad May and the emergence of Andre Deveaux, there is no more room for Hollweg. Don't forget the Leafs traded a fifth-round pick to get him...

Vesa Toskala/Curtis Joseph: One of the worst goaltending tandems in the league, they have been pretty bad for most part of the season. Toskala's 3.31 GAA is ranked 42nd among the qualified goaltenders this season. His disappointing .883 save percentage ranks hims 43rd in the league. He has allowed three goals or more 21 times this season. Joseph's stats are atrocious so I don't even want to look at them.

The Surprises:

Mikhail Grabovksi and Dominic Moore have been pleasant surprises so far in Leaf Land, the former showing flashes of brilliance of the ice with his speed and quick hands, while the latter proving to be a very reliable two-way centre who's good on face-offs.

It's now time for Brian Burke to make changes to start the reconstruction of a Maple Leafs team that's been very inconsistent this season. The lack of talent and depth is quite apparent and the Leafs must head NOW into Tavares' direction if they want a fast and painless rebuild.

What are your Good, Bad, and Ugly players?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Circle Your Calendar, Stralman

March 5th will be a significant date for Anton Stralman.


He's going to be re-inserted into the Leafs' lineup, and finally serve the role he was intended to grasp as an offensive defenseman in the NHL.

That is, if Burke can manage to wedge Kaberle and/or Kubina from the lineup.

It's currently unclear whether the duo of defensemen have a serviceable future with the Leafs. While Burke claims he won't ask neither of the defensemen to waive their NTC's, I have a feeling this story will pick up some heat as the days inch closer to the Trade Deadline - especially when considering Burke's no-holds-barred attitude.

If either Kubina or Kaberle are subtracted from the lineup, do not expect an AHL defenseman like Jamie Sifers to fill the offensive void and especially if it's Kaberle who's booted out the door. Unless an offensive defenseman is headed to the Leafs on March 4th - which is a possibility considering the Jay-Bo rumours that have been swirling - Stralman will finally get his chance to perform as one of the go-to guys on the PP.

And it's about frigging time!

No disrespect to Kaberle, who has been a force on the PP (fun fact: Kaberle rhymes with powerplay) during his tenure with the Buds, but it's time to pass the torch. Stralman will have big shoes to fill, but it only makes sense to let him adapt with the rest of his teammates, who are each establishing their respective roles on creating a competitive Leafs team for the future.

Taking a glimpse at Stralman's production at the NHL level leaves a little to be desired considering his success in the past and once being compared to Nik Lidstrom.

But let's dwell a little deeper into the subject, shall we?

Here are Stralman's point totals during the 07-08 season:

50 GP, 3 G, 9 PTS, 12:48 TOI

Now, let's take a look at the 08-09 season:

21 GP, 1 G, 7 PTS, 15:51 TOI

An increase of just over three minutes of ice-time allowed Stralman to nearly match his point totals of last season in less than half the games. While his point production is low to begin with, it still serves as an indicator that Stralman is indeed coming along. Slowly, but surely.

If Stralman were to be appointed on the 1st PP unit, his development in the NHL would take a significant step forward. Since his arrival with the Buds, the Swedish-born defenseman has not been used effectively. I understand he has to earn his ice-time, but let's keep in mind players like Matt Stajan, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Mikhail Grabovski, and others, were only given top-six ice-time because there was no other skilled players to fill in the positions. To quote Cliff Fletcher, "Antropov is our only true top-six player." Similar to his teammates, Stralman first needs the opportunity to strut his stuff in order to realize his untapped potential. Until then, he'll be used as a fringe NHL defenseman.

In terms of his defensive game; well, there is none. Stralman is unreliable in his own end, and lacks any sort of physical game. But never say never. Stralman stands at 6 foot 1, 180 pounds. He's not exactly menacing, but if he were to implement an aggressive edge to his game, he could serve as an effective two-way defenseman. That said, Stralman's future with the Leafs is based largely from his offensive potential.

Until either Kaberle or Kubina are traded, however, Stralman's contributions will be limited - don't expect him to do much by replacing Sifers on the Leafs' defense.

If Brian Burke can work his magic wand, March 4th should be highlighted by the additions of prospects and draft picks.

It's important for the Leafs to realize, though, that they have a gem of a prospect who's ready to contribute.

They just have to provide him the necessary tools.


On a side note: Does anyone else get the feeling that Stralman may be packaged to acquire a defenseman at Deadline? I base this off absolutely nothing, but I can just see Burke sacrificing Stralman to sweeten the pot on potential trades. Perhaps for Jay Bouwmeester?

The Price Is Wrong For The Canadiens

Carey Price has yet to play in 2009, having played his last game on December 30, 2008 in Tampa Bay, earning a 2-1 shootout win. Before going down with a lower-body injury, Price was having a great season, posting a 16-4-5 record with a good 2.30 GAA and a great .921 save percentage.

Originally expected to only miss one week with an unspecified lower-body ailment, Price has been shelved for over two weeks and there is no sign he will be back soon. Price was back on the ice Monday for about 20 minutes trying to recover from the injury (likely an ankle injury) that he sustained on December 30.

Price also missed part of December battling a cold and a another lower-body injury. It is believed Price won't be back before the All-start break as the Habs as extremely cautious with their young goalie and due to the strong play of Jaroslav Halak lately.

The Canadiens host Nashville tomorrow before leaving for a three-game road trip with stops in Ottawa, Atlanta and New Jersey. Since the Senators and the Thrashers are not NHL powerhouses, there is no need to rush things with Price, especially since he seems more fragile than the Canadiens expected.

Is the Price right or wrong?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Michael Ryder's Resurgence With The Boston Bruins

After a disappointing season with the Montreal Canadiens, a change of scenery was prescribed for Ryder. Bruins' GM Peter Chiarelli decided to take a chance on the unrestricted free agent sniper this off-season, offering him a three-year $4M/year deal that Ryder could not refuse.

Coming out of the worst offensive season of his career, during which he only recorded 14 goals and 17 assists for 31 points in 70 games, Ryder has returned to his old self in Boston.

After 42 games this season, Ryder has already scored 17 goals and notched 14 assists for 31 points matching last year's totals with half the season to go. A three-time 25-goal scorer, Ryder leads the NHL with seven game-winning goals!

What's even more surprising is his plus-21 differential, which ranks him sixth in the league in a tie with teammate Zdeno Chara and Capitals' Alex Semin.

Ryder's reunion with former coach Claude Julien, who coached him with the Hull Olympiques for three seasons from 1997 to 2000, has been quite successful. Since Ryder, 28, was reunited by Julien with linesmates David Krecji and Blake Wheeler, the Bruins have been on a torrid pace. This line also boasts a combined plus-73 differential, the best in the league.

Ryder's signing gave the Bruins the scoring depth that they lacked last season, and the emergence of youngsters such as Milan Lucic, David Krecji, Phil Kessel and Blake Wheeler have complimented very well stars like Marc Savard and Zdeno Chara.

With Kessel, Sturm and Bergeron out for an extended period of time, the Bruins are counting on Michael Ryder to carry the offensive workload over the next few months.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Bob Gainey Potential Targets at The Trade Deadline

During today's mid-season assessment of his team, GM Bob Gainey made it clear that is satisfied with his team, but he's looking to add depth on defense, likely a veteran defenseman with some offensive upside.

Let's look at the potential available defensemen at the trade deadline and what would Bob Gainey have to give in order to acquire their services.

Mathieu Schneider ATL $5,625,000/year, contract ends in 2008-2009:

The former Habs defenseman is a power play specialist; however, injuries have affected his play this season with the Thrashers. Schneider, 39, has 8 points in 30 games and he has a -17 plus/minus differential. He has plenty of playoffs experience.

A low draft pick and a pro player (Begin for example) would do the trick.

Nicklas Havelid ATL $2,700,000/year, contract ends in 2008-2009:

Havelid, 35, is an experienced defensive d-man who jumps into the play at the right time. Havelid has 11 points in 43 games this season. He has a great +7 rating with a very bad team.

A 2nd rounder and a young defenseman would do the trick.

Adrian Aucoin CGY $4,000,000/year, contract ends in 2008-2009:

Aucoin is a good puck-handling veteran defenseman that notched 35 points last season. He has 16 points in 41 games with the Flames this season.

The Flames are seeking help at forward and a young defenseman in exchange for Aucoin.

Jordan Leopold COL $1,500,000/year, contract ends in 2008-2009:

Leopold, 28, is a good offensive defenseman with size and grit. He has 15 points in 42 games this season with Colorado. Once traded in exchange for Alex Tanguay, Leopold has a very affordable contract and he would be a very good fit on the Habs defense.

The Avalanche are looking for offensive help due to the injuries to Sakic and Stastny.

Jay Bouwmeester FLA $4,875,000/year, contract ends in 2008-2009:

Bouwmeester, 25, is a franchise defenseman that is not happy in Florida due to their lack of success. Jay Bo has a great season notching 23 points in 42 games. The Panthers are still in the playoffs hunt, so it's unlikely Jacques Martin will deal him now. However, if the Panthers falter and are out of contention at the deadline, look for them to unpack Bouwmeester instead of losing for nothing via free agency.

The package would have to be significant to land Jay Bo. Something like a 1st rounder, a 2nd rounder, a young forward (D'Agostini) and a young defenseman (O'Byrne) would be Jacques Martin's asking price.

Sean O'Donnell LA $1,250,000/year, contract ends in 2008-2009:

O'Donnell, 37, is an experienced defensive defenseman with grit. He has mentored young Drew Doughty this season with great success. O'Donnell is the kind of tough d-man the Habs lacked in last year's playoffs series against Boston and Philly.

The Kings likely seek a 3rd rounder and a prospect for O'Donnell.

Marc-Andre Bergeron MIN $1,254,000/year, contract ends in 2008-2009:

Bergeron, 28, is a power play specialist with defensive shortcomings. He has 16 points in 31 games this season. Bergeron would instantly bolster the Canadiens' power play with his booming shot from the blue line.

The asking price would likely be a middle round pick and a defensive defenseman.

Ville Koistinen NSH $750,000/year, contract ends in 2008-2009:

Koistinen, 26, is an underrated offensive defenseman that is a good on the power play. He has never received much ice-time in Nashville because of players like Weber, Zanon and Suter.

A cheap alternative, Koistinens' asking price would be a middle round pick and a young forward.

Derek Morris PHX $3,916,000/year, contract ends in 2008-2009:

Morris, 30, is a right-handed gritty defenseman. In 40 games this season, Morris only has eight points, therefore making easier to acquire.

If the Coyotes are out of contention at the deadline, Morris' asking price would likely be a young defenseman and 4th round pick.

Tomas Kaberle could also be an interesting option, but I highly doubt Brian Burke would trade him within the division, especially to the Habs.

Which d-man should Gainey try to acquire to bolster his thin blue line?

Will That Be Shipped Poni Express?

* I can't let you read this blog without first apologizing for the title. Shameful, just shameful. *

Alexei Ponikarovsky is in the midst of a career season.

14 goals and 30 points in 42 games played – on pace for 26 goals and 58 points.

But who is responsible for this sudden jump in production?

Ladies and gentleman, I present to you the so-called back-stabbing, heartless monster that is Mats Sundin.

While Sundin may be regarded as a traitor by most Leafs fans, his skill and abilities as a sizable forward has rubbed off on Ponikarovsky – and Antropov – in a positive way.

Puck control. This is the main contributor to Ponikarovsky's success. He excels in shielding opponents from the puck with his large frame – 6 foot 4, 220 pounds to be exact – and quick movements around the boards. These are traits he's acquired by serving as Sundin's linemate for the last few years – and I'm not insinuating he's the next Sundin, but his persistence around the net is a sight to behold for Leafs fans.

Defensively, Ponikarovsky is not too shabby either. On a team consumed of minus players, 'Poni' registers a +3 rating, good enough to join a group of only six on the Leafs' roster. Where Ponikarovsky falters, however, is in physical presence. He's got the size to punish his opponents, but judging from his last four years of play, physical dominance appears to be nothing more than a pipe dream.

Looking ahead to the Trade Deadline, I can't help but drivel at the thought of Ponikarovsky's value. Usually between the 35-45 point vicinity, the Ukrainian sniper will be regarded as a 20-goal, 50-point player come March 4th – barring a drastic drop-off in production, that is.

With a cap hit of 2.105 million dollars, Ponikarovsky is an affordable, young (28) sniper whose contract terms – 2 years remaining – will only sweeten the pot for potential suitors.

All things considered, I believe Ponikarovsky can garner the Leafs a…

Throw in some dramatic suspense…

2nd-Round Pick.

Taking into account the Leafs lost their 2nd rounder to the Isles in a package for Luke Schenn, I'd swap Ponikarovsky for a 2nd in a heartbeat.

In a perfect world, I'd be giddy like a school girl if Ponikarovsky, Antropov, Kaberle, Kubina and Toskala are all traded.

I know what you're thinking, but it helps me sleep at night.

Bruins put Kessel on IR with mononucleosis

Boston, MA (Sports Network) - The Boston Bruins placed forward Phil Kessel on injured reserve Monday, as the emerging young star is battling mononucleosis.

Kessel had played in all 42 of Boston's games this season, posting a team-best 24 goals with 17 assists for the top club in the Eastern Conference.

In other roster moves, the club assigned defenseman Matt Lashoff and goaltender Kevin Regan to Providence of the AHL, while recalling goaltender Tuukka Rask and forward Martin St. Pierre from Providence.

Lashoff posted one assist in 13 games with the Bruins this season, and St. Pierre picked up a goal and two assists in nine games with Boston in previous call-ups.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Copycat Kubina

In the event of Tomas Kaberle waiving his NTC on March 4th, I’d be willing to bet that his fellow countryman, and teammate, Pavel Kubina, would follow suit.

If the Leafs’ top two offensive defensemen are subtracted from the lineup, not only will a wealthy amount of skill and potential be included to their farm system, but it’ll pave the way for a top 5 pick at the 2009 Draft.

Kaberle, who currently has 3 goals and 26 points, is on pace for yet another 50-point season. His countryman, Kubina, is on pace for an impressive 16 goals and 40 points.

Considering these stats, it’s no secret just how impactful Kaberle decision will be regarding his NTC.

Kubina, who also has a NTC, first joined the Leafs in the summer of 2006. Among his list of possible suitors, Kubina chose the city of Toronto largely due to one reason only… Kaberle.

Initially, Kaberle was stubborn towards the subject of waiving his NTC and abandoning his contract to the Leafs. Insert a newly implemented –and much needed – rebuilding plan, and Kaberle’s views are suddenly different. While he would be content with staying in Toronto, Kaberle told reporters that he’d be willing to listen to Burke if he proposed a trade to him. Carrying a 4.25 million dollar contract, you can bet there will be tons of interest for the services of #15.

Kubina, on the other hand, comes with a 5 million dollar price tag. Not terribly overpaid considering some of the contracts that were dished out last summer, but it’s still a hefty contract to submerge into a lineup. Still, that didn’t stop the San Jose Sharks at last year’s Trade Deadline. Kubina’s decision – one that I finally stopped shedding tears over – vetoed a trade that could have potentially brought Steve Bernier and a draft pick to the Leafs.

Oh, how depressing that Trade Deadline truly was.

But now, perhaps from the pity of the hockey gods, Kaberle is open to trade talks. And if he is willing to move, don’t be surprised if Kubina follows suit. After all, Kubina is 31 years of age and has nothing to gain by playing for the Leafs’ organization at this point.

In a season where reaching the playoffs was the primary goal, it’s understandable how a player doesn’t want to abandon his club, and team followers, to pursue another team. Now, however, things have changed. The majority of the Leafs’ fan base is rooting for a chance at selecting John Tavares, and considering how crappy the Isles have played this season, the Leafs are going to have to turn it down a notch if they wish to grasp that holy, godly, and miraculous 1st overall pick.

So, I think I speak for all of Leafs Nation when I say:

Please, Kaberle? Please!?

Claude Julien to coach Eastern All-Star team


NEW YORK (Jan. 10, 2009)—Under the selection process for All-Star coaches, the head coach and assistant coach for the Eastern Conference All-Stars are the head coaches of the two teams with the top points percentages in the Eastern Conference through games of tonight, the halfway point of the 2008-09 regular season. The head coach and assistant coach of the Western Conference All-Stars are the head coaches of the two teams with the best points percentages in the Western Conference.

Julien has guided Boston to its best start since 1929-30 with a points percentage of .780, posting 64 points in 41 games (30-7-4); the Bruins are assured of having the Conference’s top points percentage through Saturday. Julien will make his first career NHL All-Star coaching appearance in the city where he coached the Canadiens for 159 games over three seasons from 2002-03 to 2005-06.

Head coaches Bruce Boudreau of the Washington Capitals (27-12-3, .679) and Guy Carbonneau of the Canadiens (24-10-6, .675) still are in contention for the Eastern Conference assistant coaching berth, which will go to the winner of tonight’s game between the clubs at Montreal.

McLellan, who has guided the Sharks (30-5-5, .813) to the League’s top record in his rookie NHL season as head coach, clinched the West head coaching berth with a 4-1 victory at Edmonton Friday. He becomes the first NHL rookie head coach to garner an All-Star Game head coaching position since Florida’s Doug MacLean in 1995-96.

Head coach Mike Babcock of the Detroit Red Wings (28-7-5, .763) will serve as McLellan’s assistant, reversing their roles with the Red Wings from 2005-06 through 2007-08 when Detroit won 50-plus games for three consecutive seasons and captured the Stanley Cup last June.

No Untouchables + Kaberle and his NTC

Brian Burke made his first two moves as Leafs GM – acquiring Brad May from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for a conditional 6th round pick in 2010, and assigning Nikolai Kulemin to the Toronto Marlies.

Minor moves, but perhaps Burke has finished analyzing his team and is ready to reshape the roster to his liking.

With the NHL Trade Deadline fast approaching, just under two months now, determining the players’ market value is the first step in order to reshape this club effectively – let’s be honest, trades haven’t been one the Leafs’ strongest suits these past few years… don’t worry, I’ll spare you the list.

Looking at the Leafs roster, it’s fairly evident there are no untouchables. However, Tomas Kaberle, Pavel Kubina, Alexei Ponikarovsky – who is on pace for 26 goals and 59 points – and Nikolai Antropov could all bring in some quality assets, hopefully in the form of prospects and draft picks. And if goaltender Vesa Toskala could find the game that made him critically acclaimed in 07-08, then the Leafs will possess an important bargaining chip.

Aside from Kaberle, who, for it’s worth, will make his fourth all-star game appearance, the Leafs are short of players who are capable of garnering high-quality assets via the trade route. That said, it’s important for Burke to handle the Kaberle situation carefully. Stating publicly that he’s not wanted, ala Cliff’s approach on McCabe, will not ensure proper value for the services of #15.

When asked if he would consider waiving his NTC this season, Kaberle replied with an interesting comment:

”It’s pretty much with Brian if he’s going to talk to me or not,” Kaberle told the Sun. “I haven’t talked to the GM and my agent didn’t talk to him. Let’s leave it at that for now.” (Toronto Sun)

My, how things have changed.

It hasn’t even been a year since Kaberle exercised his NTC, rejecting a trade that would have brought Jeff Carter and a 1st round pick to the Leafs.

Depressing, I know. But fear not, my fellow Leafs companions.

Kaberle’s offensive awareness, and PP-saaviness has him on pace for a second straight 50-point season (6 G, 52 PTS compared to his 8 G and 53 PTS last season). While his defensive game is suspect, it’s no secret that he’s most effective in the oppositions zone. Those who express interest in his services will be in need of a boost on the PP, so the lack of a consistent two-way game will not affect his value. While a similar package to the Carter+1st round may be unlikely, it’s not totally out of the ball park. If Kaberle manages to up his game with even more offensive prowess, I get the feeling we’ll be licking our lips at the rumours come March 4. Excuse my Sudbury Wolves bias, but if we happen to acquire another 1st round pick, I would jump at the chance of drafting Marcus Foligno - it would have to be late round, but I’m telling you, this kid has the ability to spark plug an arena in seconds, whether it’s from monster hits, adrenaline pumping fights or rattling the opposition, and he also knows his way in the offensive end.

If Burke plays his cards right, and manages to trade with a future-first attitude, the available players at his disposal can generate a wealthy return of prospects and draft picks - and god knows we need the latter.

March 4th. The day I avoid all interactions with the outside world.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Grabovski suspended three games after incident

From Sportsnet,

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mikhail Grabovski has been suspended for three games after shoving an offical Thursday night. Sources tell Hockeycentral the Leafs are contemplating appealing the league decision.

Grabovski received a game misconduct for shoving a linesman late in the third period of Thursday’s 6-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre.

Grabovski didn't appear to show much regret for the incident with Kostitsyn, but he did admit he lost his head when he waved his arms and gestured to the sellout crowd of 21,273.

Pacioretty and Gorges: A Look At Bob Gainey's Crafty Move From Two Years Ago

On February 25, 2007, the Montreal Canadiens veteran defenseman Craig Rivet and a fifth round selection in 2008 were sent to the San Jose Sharks for young defenseman Josh Gorges and a first round selection in 2007 (Max Pacioretty).

Now a member of the Buffalo Sabres, Rivet helped the Sharks go deep in the playoffs the past two seasons — even though they weren't able to make it to the finals. In 91 games with the Sharks, Rivet scored six goals and 37 assists for 43 points.

He was later traded this summer along with San Jose's seventh round selection in 2010 to the Buffalo Sabres for a second round choice in 2009 and a second round choice in 2010.

Meanwhile, Josh Gorges blossomed into a very reliable defenseman over his two years in Montreal. At first, things were not quite easy for Gorges as he was a frequent healthy scratch for most of the 2007 season.

However, last season he finally made it as a regular rearguard and played 62 games, notching nine assists beside his partner Francis Bouillon.

Gorges, 24, has seen an increase of ice-time this season being used in every situation (even on the powerplay), and his statistics have improved accordingly. Gorges already has one goal and seven assists for eight points in 40 games. He has a team-best +18 plus/minus differential good for the tenth rank league-wide.

The key element of that trade is Max Pacioretty. He finally made it to the NHL this season, thanks to numerous injuries to key Habs players.

He registered 15 goals, 24 assists and 39 points in 37 games after a great season with the University of Michigan: Ann Arbor last year. After Michigan, Pacioretty signed his first NHL contract, a three year entry level pact, this summer with the Canadiens.

Recalled from Hamilton on January 1st, 2009, Pacioretty scored his first NHL goal on his first shot on his four to one loss against New Jersey. Now playing on a line with veterans Alex Kovalev and Tomas Plekanec, Max Pax has tallied two goals and one assist for three points after only four games.

Pacioretty is a good power forward with above average skills — a good skater with quick feet. He handles the puck very well, and he has a good wrist shot with quick release. His size and tenacity allow him to drive to the net consistently.

Max Pacioretty will likely be this year's Sergei Kostitsyn even when Koivu, Higgins and Tanguay come back from their injuries.


NHL Northeast All-Star Selections

Montreal quarter of Alex Kovalev, Carey Price, Mike Komisarek and Andrei Markov were elected by the fans as starters.

Buffalo's Thomas Vanek, Boston's Marc Savard, and Ottawa's Dany Heatley are the Northeast division forwards.

Boston's Zdeno Chara and Toronto's veteran Tomas Kaberle will be the defensemen.

Boston's Tim Thomas will share the workload with Price.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Emergence of Maxim Lapierre For The Canadiens

Centering the Canadiens' newly-formed energy line of Guillaume Latendresse and Tom Kostopoulos, Maxim Lapierre has emerged as a pretty valuable asset for the Montreal Canadiens.

Lapierre, 23, earned the December Molson Cup given to the best player during the month. The St-Leonard native won the Molson Cup for the first time in his career.

Lapierre recorded eleven points in Molson Cup standings after being voted first star of the game once and getting two second-star selections. He notched four goals and three assists for seven points in 13 games.

In December, he even had a “Gordie Howe hat trick” (a goal, an assist and a fighting major penalty) against the Rangers, which the Canadiens face again tonight in Madison Square Garden.

However, Lapierre's not only contributing offensively, he also leads the Habs in face-offs winning percentage with 56%, a 7% increase over last season. Lapierre also regularly kills penalties with linemate Tom Kostopoulos or grinder Steve Begin.

Lapierre, who plays an intense, gritty and strong all-round game, has top notch skating and speed with decent size; he is a player that knows what it takes to win. And now with the great complicity he has with Latendresse and Kostopoulos, Carbonneau is not afraid to use them in every situation, even late during tight games.

But, will Lapierre get as much of ice time when Saku Koivu returns on Saturday against the Capitals, or will he play sporadically on a 4th line once again undermining his blossoming talent?

The Sens GM story

First off, I'm glad to join this site as the Sens blogger and I hope all of you enjoy my blogs.

But I'll stop wasting your time on to the blog-

Well the Sens are four points out of last place in the league with 32 points and looks like they will contend with the Thrashers, Lightning and Islanders for the battle of Tavares and Hedman.

This time last year there was lots of talk of fans wanting the Leafs to tank so they can draft Stamkos or Doughty, well they ended up with Schenn, who has worked out great for them so far. But my point is leafs nation was split between cheering for a playoff berth and cheering for the leafs to tank. So my question is whats the feeling in Sens Nation?

Myself, even as a longtime Sens fan, I can only hope for a major shake-up for this organization, every game I cheer for a Sens win, but I am realistic. This team needs to have an infusion of youth and new talent.

While I truly believe Hartsburg and his staff is the right team for the job, I think it might be time to let Murray go.

Right now there is tons of talk around the SBP that Melnyk and Murray aren't seeing eye to eye.

There is huge talk that Melnyk won't let Murray make a trade, and on the other side there's talk that Melnyk is pressuring Murray to make a move now. So either way Murray and Melnyk aren`t on the same page and something has to give. Obviously Melnyk isn`t going anywhere and that Murray has fallen out of grace in Melnyk`s eyes.

So it really is a matter of time before Murray is on the outside looking in. Talk to anyone working in SBP, Sens organization and Kanata and they will tell you one of the 2 situations.

There is a chance Murray stays on till the end of the year, but my assumption is a new GM will be in place before the draft. So who is a possible replacement? Well there are several that come to mind that would be a great fit.

Pat Quinn - I'm not a big fan of Quinn based on his history in Toronto, and while I do discredit his international achievements because its really hard to lose on international ice with the mass talent available in Canada and he would have lost if not for the inexperience of the Russian Kids and coaching staff. But if history shows anything the winning world junior coaches go to the NHL pretty quick i.e. Sutter and Hartsburg. Quinn has the numbers and experience to reshape a broken Sens Club

Pat Burns - Based solely on the rumour that he's itching to get back into the NHL, while he has more experience coaching, he may have enough knowledge from the sidelines to rebuild. He is a great hockey mind and he may be just what the Sens Army needs.

Doug MacLean - The man who commanded the ship in Columbus during the early years and was fired when Columbus couldn't get the job done. While he isn't a trade wizard, he is a great hockey mind and very talented when draft day comes around.

Jim Rutherford - Is available when this season ends, like MacLean, Rutherford has great hockey sense and was the runner-up for the Toronto gig. What better way to show the world Toronto made the wrong decision by leading their rival against them.

Steve Yzerman - While I doubt he's on the list, I figured I should put him on the list because he is a future GM.

Jay Feaster - The odd man out in Tampa, he's been through the same situation in Tampa as Ottawa is in now, unfortunately he got the axe before he could finish his plans. The plus to Feaster is he had a plan in place to fix Tampa, so he could make it work in Ottawa.

Ken Holland - Now before Red Wing fans harp on me, this is only based off of Holland being in Ottawa for the WJC and meeting casually with Melnyk during that time.
So what are your thoughts on the situation in Ottawa? Is tanking for the best? What have heard Ottawa fans? Who would you like to see running Ottawa?

Ruutu suspended two games for biting incident

The National Hockey League has suspended Ottawa Senators forward Jarkko Ruutu two games following a biting incident Tuesday night in Buffalo.

Although the video evidence appears to conclusively show Ruutu bit the gloved thumb of Sabres tough guy Andrew Peters, after the Sens 4-2 loss Ruutu denied that to be the case. The altercation took place in the first period after Peters started an exchange with Ruutu by rubbing his glove into Ruutu's face.

"It's a pretty goofy thing that happened," Peters said. "It's not the injury, it's the incident. Just the fact that happened it's unfortunate. It's not good for the game of hockey."

Ruutu, who was suspended for two games in November, now is considered a repeat offender under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

He forfeits more than $31,000 in salary with the money going to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.

Ruutu will miss Thursday's game at Boston and Saturday's game against the Rangers. He will be eligible to return Tuesday against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Source: TSN

Maple Leafs acquire Brad May from Ducks

The Toronto Maple Leafs have acquired enforcer Brad May from the Anaheim Ducks. In exchange, the Ducks receive a conditional sixth-round draft pick in 2010. This is Bryan Burke's first move as Leafs GM.

May, 37, is in the final year of a two-year contract that pays him $600,000 this season. In 20 games with Anaheim this season, May has five assists and 28 PIM.

In 963 career games with Anaheim, Vancouver, Phoenix, Buffalo and Colorado, the Toronto native has 285 points and 2,121 penalty minutes. It's the third time that May and Burke will be reunited together (Anaheim and Vancouver).

The lack of toughness and grit has been obvious in the past few games and Burke wanted to rectify the problem as soon as possible.

Simple, but efficient, move by Burke. The acquisition of May might mean rookie enforcer Andre Deveaux will be sent back to the AHL soon. Meanwhile, rookie Nikolai Kulemin has been assigned earlier today to the Toronto Marlies.

In 40 games with the Maple Leafs this season, Kulemin registered seven goals and 14 points.

Murray and Hartsburg on the way out?

One loss too many?

Craig Hartsburg may well have coached his last game for the Ottawa Senators.

According to the Journal de Montréal, owner Eugene Melnyk was waiting for the result of last night's game between the Senators and Sabres before making a decision.

The Senators lost 4-2, their third in a row and a 25th loss this season.

General Manager Bryan Murray would also be fired as a result of the Senators underachievement.

Melnyk may have already decided on Murray and Hartburg's successors. They would be none other than Pat Quinn, recently head coach of the WJC team which won a fifth consecutive gold medal and Bob Nicholson as GM.

Though Quinn's selection makes some sense, choosing Nicholson is surprising. Hockey Canada's president and chief executive has no experience at the NHL level. Since 1998, he has managed all the men's and women's national and Olympic teams.

No one should be surprised at Quinn's return behind the bench. The 64-year old has made it clear he has wanted to return to the NHL after a two-year break and also wanted to use the world juniors as a springboard to the NHL. It's unlikely he thought the dive into NHL waters would come so quickly, however.

Source: Radio Canada

I have been saying for a while, since GM Murray can't find a trade partner, the Sens ownership will likely pull the plug on him and his coach Craig Hartsburg. The Senators are not going anywhere this season, and it's time for a major overhaul of this team.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

PK Subban Showing His Incredible Talent

After an extraordinary World Junior Championship where he was arguably one of the best players for Canada, P.K. Subban garnered more attention from scouts, media and fans (especially the Habs' fans) than any other player in the tournament. Subban performed better than he ever has in his career and he surprisingly emerged as the top offensive defensemen on Team Canada.

At only 5'10", 200 lbs., the swift and quick Subban is an offensive diamond in the rough. A right-handed shooter, Subban is a great weapon on the power play. He is also energetic, enthusiastic and relentless.

The Canadiens' 43rd overall pick in 2007, Subban had terrific 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons (15 G, 41 A, 56 PTS—2006-07; 8 G, 38 A, 46 PTS—2007-08). This season with the Belleville Bulls, he has already notched 37 points (4 G, 33 A) in only 29 games.

With his recent performances, Subban might have passed a few defensemen such as Ryan McDonagh, David Fischer, and Mathieu Carle on the Canadiens' prospects list.

He will be given every opportunity to make the team during the 2009 training camp next fall as the Canadiens are in dire need of a power play specialist who can shoot the puck and move the puck well.

Jason Pomminville about blogging

Click here to watch Jason Pomminville talking about his blog with the Buffalo Sabres.

Leafs prospect and junior star DiDomenico traded


BOUCHERVILLE, Que. – One day after winning gold with the Canadian juniors, forward Chris DiDomenico has been traded to the Drummondville Voltigeurs by the Saint John Sea Dogs.

Going to the Sea Dogs in exchange are goaltender Simon Giroux, winger Mathieu Gingras, a first-round pick in 2009 and a second-round pick in 2010.

DiDomenico adds to a potent Voltigeurs offence that leads the QMJHL in goals with 197.

The sixth-round pick (164th overall) of the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2007 NHL draft, DiDomenico has 75 goals and 129 assists in 166 games with the Sea Dogs. This season, he has 11 goals and 23 assists in 26 games with Saint John.

"Chris has been a great player for us these last few seasons and it has been an absolute pleasure to have coached him," Saint John GM and head Jacques Beaulieu said in a statement. "He has a very bright future ahead of him, and we wish him nothing but the best as he continues down what promises to be a highly successful career path."

In 34 games this season, Gingras has seven goals, four assists and 14 penalty minutes. The 6-foot, 170-pounder from Woodbrige, Ont., was originally selected by Drummondville in the third round (53rd overall) of the 2007 QMJHL entry draft.

The QMJHL trade deadline is Thursday at noon.

Rivet likely back tonight for Sabres

Captain defenseman Craig Rivet is ready to return as early as tonight when the Sabres take on the Senators at the HSBC arena. Rivet has now missed eleven games with a shoulder injury.

In 21 games, Rivet has five assists this season. He was named the team captain during training camp.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Canadiens acquire TJ Kemp for pick

From the Penguins:


The Pittsburgh Penguins have traded defenseman T.J. Kemp to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for a conditional seventh round draft pick in the 2010 Entry Draft, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Ray Shero.

Kemp, 27, has played 22 games for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League (AHL) this season. He has posted nine points (one goal, eight assists) along with 22 penalty minutes.

The 5-11, 197-pound defenseman has split the past four seasons between the Peoria Rivermen, Iowa Stars, Milwaukee Admirals, Bridgeport Sound Tigers, Manchester Monarchs, Springfield Falcons and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL. Kemp has appeared in 174 career games in the AHL, registering 93 points (14 goals, 79 assists) and 126 penalty minutes.

The native of Pickering, Ontario signed with Pittsburgh as a free agent on July 8, 2008.

Montreal Canadiens: Why The Kostitsyn Brothers Should Stick Together

Reunited for yesterday's match-up against the Florida Panthers, the Kostitsyn brothers, Andrei and Sergei, sparked the Habs' offense to a close 6-5 OT win over Peter DeBoer's team.

Lining up on a line with veteran Robert Land, the "Mullet line" produced three of the Canadiens' goals. Lang finished the afternoon with one goal and one assist (+2), while Andrei notched two goals (+2) and Sergei added two assists (+4).

With Alex Tanguay out for an extended period of time, the Canadiens desperately need to find secondary scoring to help ease the pressure on Kovalev's line.

Ever since they were kids, the Kostitsyns played hockey together at every level. That is why they play so well when reunited.

Sergei, who is more of a passer, has a great vision, solid skating abilities and a great hockey sense. Sergei also kills penalties with Robert Lang because of his great defensive awareness. He can also man the point on the power play.

Andrei, who is more of a shooter, is blessed with a quick release and a heavy shot. His has excellent puck-handling abilities and his strong on the puck.

As you can see the brothers compliment each other perfectly because of their different sets of skills, that is why they should stick together for a while, whether it is with Robert Lang, Saku Koivu and Tomas Plekanec.

As Carbonneau said, "Andrei shoots more when he plays with Sergei instead of Alex Kovalev, when he plays with Kovy he tries to give him the puck too much". Andrei added that he's more confortable playing with his brother.

I believe Carbo has finally understood that the brothers should stick together for a while now...

Luke Schenn likely back tomorrow

Leafs defenceman Luke Schenn, who has missed the past 12 games with torn knee ligaments, will likely return to the lineup tomorrow against the Florida Panthers. Schenn has 2 assists in 27 games for the Leafs in his rookie campaign.

The Maple Leafs are also hoping that Jeremy Williams (shoulder) and Matt Stajan (eye problems) will be available for the team’s two-game road trip later this week.

Senators' Cody Bass out for the season

Centre Cody Bass will miss the reminder of the season with a season-ending shoulder injury.

He injured his shoulder in a fight with Calgary's Eric Nystrom last week.

In 12 games with Ottawa this season, Bass is pointless and he has 15 PIM.