Thursday, October 27, 2011

Why Twitter will endure

Twitter has become the go-to medium in my opinion. Strictly using the sports world as an example, Twitter blows other social media sites out of the water.

The up to the minute reports on happenings throughout the NFL and NHL cannot be matched by any other medium. Whether it is lineup changes, suspensions, or injury reports, Twitter is far away the best medium for the sports world.

Although I do enjoy reading long detailed articles, when I want current information that is relevant, I always go on my Twitter account.

Of course, Twitter also provides entertainment, and I would be lying if I said I strictly visit Twitter for only news worthy material.

Staying in the hockey world, @BizNasty2point0 (Paul Bissonnette, Forward for the Phoenix Coyotes), has one of the funniest Twitter accounts I follow. Although he is not a well-known hockey player, he is followed by thousands of people, strictly because of his comedic tweets.

Being an avid sports fan and knowing other sports fans, the quicker we can get information on our sports teams, the better. There are some cases where Twitter is in fact quicker than live TV when it comes to updates.

For example, last week James Reimer left the game with a head injury. Before CBC even noticed, several beat reporters for the Toronto Maple Leafs already put on their Twitter accounts that Reimer was being looked at.

The slowness of CBC to confirm Reimer's absence could be due to a number of reasons including the fact that Coaches Corner doesn't do in-game updates or the fact that Glen Healey never shuts up. Regardless, we are in a time where Twitter beats Television to the punch.

This is why Twitter will endure the constant changes in social media. We want the most up-to-date news we can attain. Although Twitter can be wrong occasionally, it supplies us with our demands, and until another medium can do the same, Twitter will remain at the top of the social media world.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Picking the team apart

Am I over critical of the Leafs? Most likely. I can't help but feel very disappointed, even though they are 4-1-1. Here is my "realistic" blog post, although I'd say most would call this a pessimistic view. Not focusing on the positives at all tonight.

The Bad:

Special Teams: Same story every friggin' year. Power play sucks. Penalty kill sucks. Every year. The players change, but the results stay the same. What is the problem? Ron Wilson. His specialty teams are horrible. After so many roster changes, it cannot be just blamed on the players. Ron Wilson is the problem.

Cody Franson - Playing just as bad as Mike Komisarek. What are you doing out there? Slow, lack proper decision making skills and very soft on the body. He has shown absolutely nothing at all. Hopefully he is packaged and traded to a team who needs a dman.

Mike Komisarek - A scrub. Can't skate; takes bad penalties, and is constantly out of defensive position. Shown nothing in his two years as a Leaf. Horrible signing, horrible contract.

Jonas Gustavsson - Giving up over 3.5 goals per game his last 15 starts. He won't be resigned because he underachieves. He is not a "Monster."

Thankfully, James Reimer will be back in net Saturday. Hopefully Keith Aulie is called up to replace both of the defensive scrubs. As for the special teams...well, that won't change until Wilson is gone.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Dreaded First Loss

The sky is falling! Well not really, but that is the typical reaction from Leaf Nation after a loss, especially the first one of the year.

The Leafs played absolutely horrible. They were dominated in the faceoff circle and the defence turned the puck over way to much. I must give credit where it is due; the Avs have a great young team. They forecheck very well, and they are very big on the backend, as four of six defenceman are over 230 pounds.

Phil Kessel continued his hot streak with his sixth goal of the year, but it was not enough.

The shocking play of Cody Franson, Mike Komisarek and Luke Schenn, was quite frightening. All three were slow to make decisions, and turned the puck over numerous times. Most notably would be Cody Franson leaving his man open in front of the net in overtime, leading to the game winning goal. I would like to see Jake Gardiner back in the lineup, Wednesday night.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - The Leafs will live and die with James Reimer. Was he horrible tonight? Not at all. But he did leave a lot to be desired, as his rebound control was suspect, and all three goals could have been stopped.

I must remind myself that this is a long season and these games will happen. The fact the Leafs were able to steal a point shows that they will not quit.

Ron Wilson once again cannot run a proper NHL power play. The Leafs have now gone 17 straight power play attempts without a goal. A similar trend of the last three years.

Up next for the Leafs are the Winnipeg Jets. I wouldn't be surprised to see Jonas Gustavsson play Wednesday night, while Reimer would play Thursday against the Bruins. Now it is time to see how the Leafs will react to losing.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The New and Improved Phil Kessel

Yes, I know it is only three games into a very young year. Many things can and will change over the next 79 games, but there is no doubt in my mind that Phil Kessel is a changed hockey player.

Kessel has been active in a three zones this year and not only is that helping the team, but I think Kessel realizes that it also creates scoring chances for him. I'm not saying he is a great two-way forward, but he is a respectable defender now. I honestly think this will be Kessel's breakout year, that will solidify him as a top 10 NHL player. Call me crazy, but I think 40 goals is in his realm of possibility.

Kessel has recorded five goals, three assists for 8 points to start the season, but oddly enough that is not his most impressive fact. The fact that Kessel has not been on the ice for a goal against and he is a +7 is quite astounding. That also points to the dominance of the line as a whole. Lupul and Bozak have had great starts to the year as well.

Now with Connolly returning sometime this soon, do we want to break up such a good line? Personally I wouldn't, because the chemistry looks superb. But that debate is for another blog.

It's funny how Kessel was scoring with Joey Crabb as his linemate last year, but once he got a respectable power forward to play opposite of him (Lupul), Kessel has been on fire.

In his last 32 games, Kessel has recorded 18 goals, 19 assists for 37 points and a +6 rating.

Kessel does disappear for periods of six or seven games, so I will be watching to see if that continues into this season. The Leafs have six games in the next eight nights, so we must hope Kessel continues to play well, and the Grabovski line can find its groove.

The Avalanche are in town Monday night; look for Giguere to get the start against his former team. It will be a game with two young teams, who play a run and gun style of hockey.

Until then, Go Leafs Go

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Taking Candy from a baby...I mean Darryl Sutter

I remember it like it was yesterday. I woke up around 11 am Sunday morning to a ton of texts saying, "Dion Phaneuf to Toronto." I really didn't believe it. I went running to my TV like a little kid on Christmas morning and saw TSN reporting the deal as completed.

Slowly the details came in, and my excitement turned to sheer pleasure. That's it? Darryl Sutter must have been drugged.

I thought the deal was a steal then, and two years later, I still believe this.

Lets do a breakdown of this trade:

The Leafs get Dion Phaneuf, Fredrik Sjostrom and Keith Aulie.

Dion Phaneuf was so-so last year, but he excelled the last 40 games showing why he deserves to be Captain - and that play has continued into this year. He is a first pairing defensman who can play against all first lines and he has become quite underrated, but that tends to happens to players when they are traded to the Leafs.

Fredrik Sjostrom was a non-factor in this deal. He played a decent role as a PKer for just over a year. He became a free agent this summer and still remains unsigned.

Keith Aulie is the steal of the deal. A big stay-at-home defensman who played with Phaneuf last year on the top pairing for thirty or so games. Although he did not make the team out of camp this year, he is still only 20, and most certainly will be back with the Leafs. He has great potential; and although I don't see him as a first pairing defensman, he is most certainly a great second pairing defensman.

The Flames receive Ian White, Matt Stajan, Nik Hagman and Jamal Mayers.

Well, the Flames basically got hosed. Ian White and Jamal Mayers made little impact for the Flames and are not on their roster anymore.

Matt Stajan has been a colossal failure. Before being traded to Calgary, he recorded 15 goals in 55 games that season for Toronto. Since the trade, Stajan has scored ten goals in over 100 games as a Flame. The worst part of this deal is that Calgary signed Stajan to a multi-year deal at 3.5 million per year. Essentially, they are paying their fourth line centre 3.5 million. Not smart cap management by former GM, Darryl Sutter.

The same can be said for Nik Hagman who was considered a 20 goal scorer. Since being traded to Calgary, Hagman has 15 goals in just over 100 games played.

It is clear Brian Burke won this deal. It is one of the Leafs most lopsided trades since the Sundin or Gilmour deals of the 90's.

Thanks Darryl!

Return of MacArthur and the Calgary Scrubs

After a week off, the Toronto Maple Leafs will be in action tonight against the Calgary Flames. There will be two additions to the lineup as forward, Clarke MacArthur will rejoin the team, playing with Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin.

I am excited to see the full Grabovski line back in action. Yes, Matt Frattin did an admirable job filling in for MacArthur, but even then I felt like something was missing. Hopefully MacArthur can find his legs early and create some scoring chances.

The other addition will be defenseman, Cody Franson. Franson is most likely taking Jake Gardiners spot on defense, meaning that he will get paired with Mike Komisarek.

Trutfully, I am not sure what will come of this pairing. They seem to slow and mistake prone to be a good bottom pairing, but that could change. Komisarek has played respectable hockey and I have only seen Franson a handful of times, but he seems to get beat by speed. This pairing will have to bring their A game tonight. Also, expect Franson to get some power play time with Carl Gunnarsson. He has a very heavy and accurate shot, that should help the second line PP.

As for the game itself, the Flames will be entering Toronto after winning their first game of the season against the Montreal Canadiens. Looking at the Flames roster, they remind me of the 06-08 Leafs; so many bad memories.

Names such as Nik Hagman, Matt Stajan, and Lee Stempniak all bring me back to the days of mediocrity. Are they horrible players? Not at all. With that being said, they were the dead weight on those Leafs teams. Not players you want if you are deciding to build a contending team.

In a side of Leaf Nation that I hate, I vividly remember some people wanting Matt Stajan to be our captain. Yes, I know that is hilariously funny. Who in their right mind would want that. Leaf Nation puzzles me greatly sometimes.

As for the game, the Leafs will need to score the first goal. Last year, the Leafs were scored on first 2/3's of the time. That would explain their bad record last season. When they did score first, they had a winning record, as did every other NHL team. Obviously the Leafs still have to play a full 60 minute game, but you cannot deny the importance of scoring the first goal of the game - It's a must.

The Leafs should use their speed to attack Calgary's defense. They are not a relatively fast group, and Jay Bouwmeester is not the same player he was in Florida. Look for the Grabovski line to dominate play most of the night.

The Leafs lineup with me slightly altered tonight at the forward position. The defense will remain the same except for Franson taking Gardiners spot with Komisarek. Here are the forward lines:


I am loving the depth the Leafs have. A week ago, the fourth line was basically our third line. With bodies slowly coming back into the lineup, the Leafs are showing their depth. All four lines can score, and the third line is filled with very good players.

I am expecting another Leafs win. I feel they will be the better team tonight, but they will not dominate. I expect Reimer to make key, timely saves and the Leafs will feed off that. With three more home games before a four game road trip, the Leafs have to take a minimum 4 of 6 points.

I have Phil Kessel scoring twice and Kulemin scoring his first of the year. 3-2 Leafs.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Bottom 6; Tim Connolly Update

With Clarke MacArthur rejoining the lineup, the Leafs bottom 6 forwards will receive a nice make-over. According to many analysts, the Leafs third line will consist of Matt Frattin, Matthew Lombardi and Colby Armstrong. This third line is vastly different from that of the first two games, which included David Steckel and Philippe Dupuis.

What to expect? Well, the major difference is speed and scoring. Lombardi and Frattin are fast and they can create scoring chances. They are not limited to offense though, as both are considered to be decent two way forwards. This third line should be able to attack other teams slower defensive pairs, as well as face other teams best lines. They are the best of both worlds.

The fourth line will receive the most significant upgrade as Steckel and Dupuis will be placed there with winger Mike Brown. With these three guys together, they provide the Leafs with one of the most serviceable fourth lines in the league. All three are effective forecheckers, but individually they all bring something unique and different to the ice.

David Steckel as we already know is the faceoff specialist. Winning 70% of his faceoffs is crucial to the Leafs transition game.

Mike Brown is speedy. He will fight and also has an unknown playmaking ability that is needed on the fourth line.

Philippe Dupuis forechecks with the best of them. He will hit anything that moves, which creates space on the ice for Steckel and Brown.

Now obviously the fourth line won't make a huge impact every night. What I am excited about is the fact that all three play good defensive hockey and they have the ability to create offense if needed. As long as they control puck possession when playing other fourth lines is my concern.


Don't expect injured centre, Tim Connolly to play Saturday. He is still nursing an upper body injury that he suffered early in the preseason. Although there is an outside chance of him playing, I don't see Ron Wilson rushing him back into the lineup, as this game is not of major importance.

Tim Connolly needs to get healthy. There is a point where I can understand he is hurt, but for a day-to-day injury to extend into two weeks is quite ridiculous. Connolly has a long injury history which was a main reason why Buffalo decided not to resign him.

If Matthew Lombardi can step up as a third line centre and Tyler Bozak continues his good play with Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul, how can you insert Connolly into the lineup? At the risk of killing chemistry built, Connolly better be in the lineup against Winnipeg, on Wednesday at the very latest.

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Week Off

Well after a strong 2-0 start, the Toronto Maple Leafs will be on break until next Saturday, when they take on the Calgary Flames. For half of their break, the Leafs will be spending time at CFB Trenton, bonding with each other and taking time to thank those who serve our country.

On the injury front, everyone appears to be getting healthy. Centre, Tim Connolly is expected to play Saturday, and today, Ron Wilson said Nazem Kadri has progressed quite well, and could be ready by Saturday; that is if Wilson believes he should play with the Leafs. It is possible he gets sent to the AHL. We should know more mid-week.

Also back from a two game suspension is LWer, Clarke MacArthur. Although Matt Frattin filled in admirably for MacArthur on the Grabovski line, it was clear that MacArthur's presence was missing.

Today, Ron Wilson said MacArthur is suffering from an infected elbow, but once again, he is expected to play Saturday night.

With at least two, possibly three players being injected into the lineup, their will definitely be some changes.

Lines for Leafs practice today were:


Obviously I expect this not to be the lineup on Saturday, but it does raise some interesting questions.

Are the Leafs better off sending both Kadri and Frattin down, while promoting Lombardi to play LW beside Bozak and Armstrong? This is assuming Connolly centres Kessel. What happens with Dupuis? Will Wilson decide to go without an enforcer in the lineup? Many questions will have to be answered in the next 3-4 days.

As for next week itself; the Leafs will be very busy.

They play three home games against Calgary, Colorado and Winnipeg, before going on the road to play Boston and Montreal. They will definitely be tested by playing five games in seven days.

A realistic outlook would be a 3-2 record for the Leafs although 4-1 would be nice. The Leafs need to win three games minimum next week, as they still have a relatively light schedule.

Also expect Jonas Gustavsson to see game action possibly against Winnipeg or Boston. I don't see James Reimer playing both games of the back-to-back this early in the year. A key to our team is to make sure Goose doesn't get too rusty on the bench.

Overall, I am pleased with the Leafs start to the year. Yes, the 3rd period performance against the Sens left a lot to be desired; but 4 points is 4 points.

Here is to an exciting week and a fully healthy roster!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Game 2 Spotlight

Phil Kessel

Tonight when the Ottawa Senators visit the ACC, the spotlight will be on Leaf RWer, Phil Kessel. Since being acquired by the Maple Leafs, Kessel has scored in all but one game against the Senators. He is a bonified Sens killer.

Kessel set up Dion Phaneuf as he fired his first goal of the season past Carey Price in Thursdays opener.

Although Kessel is known for his quick release and being a goal scorer, I would truthfully consider Kessel a playmaker. His passing skills are highly underrated, and he could easily reach the 40-40 plateau this year.

Another area where Kessel has improved this preseason and on Thursday is his defensive play. I noticed Thursday that he was back checking every shift, and that created more chances for him offensively. Hopefully he can continue to play like this and become a decent two way winger.

The Battle of Ontario

Toronto comes into game two on a small high. After defeating their long time rivals, the Montreal Canadiens, the Maple Leafs are now facing another rival.

Ottawa is playing their second game in as many nights. Although they lost 5-3 to Detroit last night, they were down 5-0 going into the third period. Ottawa is a very young and inexperienced team. If they want to compete tonight, goaltender Craig Anderson will have to steal this game.

If the Leafs want success tonight again, they must control the play, as they did in the 2nd and 3rd periods against Montreal. Their PK must also be rock solid and James Reimer will have to make timely saves.

David Steckel must be a faceoff beast again. If he can win 70% of the draws he takes, the Leafs will be in vastly good shape. The one great thing I noticed was Steckels ability to take a faceoff in his own zone with the Kessel line, win it, then go a take a quick change allowing Bozak to get on the ice. Great hockey.

The Leafs power play had decent chances last game, but they need to start scoring. Special teams is a crucial factor in this league.

The Grabovski line must have another big day. Although they did not record a goal, they created multiple chances, and controlled the play when they were on the ice.

Dion Phaneuf, who had a fantastic opening game, must start to get shots on goal during the PP. He scored a lovely goal on a one timer from Phil Kessel. Phaneuf appears to be in mid-season form, as for the first time in a long while, he went a full game without a major defensive mistake. He must keep this play up all season.

Overall, I expect a win tonight. Yes, this is the NHL and anyone can beat anyone; but nothing less than a win tonight is acceptable. The Sens will be a bottom dweller this year. The Leafs need to take full advantage and take these two points.

My prediction: 5-2 Leafs. Grabovski, Phaneuf, Kessel (2) and Kulemin, while Spezza tallies two for Ottawa.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Tonights Spotlight

Mikhail Grabovski

With Tim Connolly hurt, Mikhail Grabovski will face the brunt of Montreal's defense. Although Phil Kessel could see Montreal's top pairing, I expect the Grabovski line to be Montreal's focus of concern.

Grabovski had an outstanding preseason, picking up where he left off last season. Tonight, he will need to bring a multi-faceted game, as he will be expected to play the PP, PK and produce at even strength.

The beauty of the Grabovski line is that not only are they good on their own side of the rink, but they have great chemistry. Grabovski and RWer, Nikolai Kulemin have been building chemistry for the last two years, and that hard work payed off last year. After a great preseason, it looks as nothing will slow these two down.

Rookie, Matt Frattin will complete the trio for the first two games of the 2011 season, as Clarke MacArthur is serving his two game suspension.

What does Grabovski have to do tonight?

He must use his lightening quick speed to attack Montreal's old and slow defense. He must also utilize the space created by Matt Frattin and Nikolai Kulemin, who are both power forwards. If Grabovski gets time and space he will set up one of Kulemin or Frattin; he could also quite possibly snipe a goal, as he did record a career high 29 goals last season.

If Grabovski can contribute offensively tonight and be a plus player, the Leafs will be victorious against the Montreal Canadiens.


My favourite Leafs/Habs moment.

Well, opening day is upon us. The NHL season will open with the best rivalry in hockey; Montreal Canadiens vs Toronto Maple Leafs.

The season series last year was split down the middle, with each team winning three games. Every game is a toss up with these two teams. It does not matter if one team is a playoff contender, while the other one is a cellar dweller; the rivalry is always close.

The Leafs will be missing Tim Connolly and Nazem Kadri due to injury. Clarke MacArthur will also be sitting out game one of his two game suspension. Expect Tyler Bozak to be reunited with Joffrey Lupul and Phil Kessel on the first line.

The Montreal Canadiens will be welcoming new comer, Eric Cole. He signed with Montreal in the offseason, and will give them an added scoring dimension. Often injured defenceman, Andrei Markov will also be healthy for the season opener.

What to expect today? Well the Leafs should come out strong as it is their home opener. If the Canadiens can find a way to weather the storm in the first period, they could be in good shape. Last year, they got down 2-0 early on and couldn't recover.

The Grabovski line must pick up where they left off last year. Although there will be no Clarke MacArthur on that line, Matt Frattin is a suitable replacement. I expect big things from them tonight.

A big part of this game will be determined on special teams. Montreal is known for their above average power play and the Leafs have truthfully been horrendous on the penalty kill the entire time Ron Wilson has been coach. If Montreal wins the specialty team portion of the game, that could give them the edge tonight.

It will also be interesting to see James Reimer in action. He had a decent preseason, but one trend was giving up early goals. We'll see if that changes tonight.

My prediction is going to be a Leafs win. I think they come out strong, and use the crowd to their advantage. I got Grabovski (2), Kessel and Phaneuf all scoring for the Leafs and I think Cole will score the only goal for Montreal. 4-1 Leafs win.

Now bring on tonight!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Effects of the Steckel Deal - Where does Burke go from here?

The David Steckel trade remains very intriguing to me. The deal by itself does not make a whole lot of sense. A 4th rounder for a faceoff specialist isn't exactly the best value to be honest. This deal raises a few questions.

1. Is it a precursor to a larger deal? This is the most likely scenario. Darren Dreger has been speculating for weeks that Toronto is trying to upgrade their top 6. With Steckel inserted into the lineup, the Leafs have an abundance of centers; and not in a good way. Steckel brings to the table what Boyce, Dupuis and Zigomanis all do.

A likely scenario would be for Toronto to make a trade between games two and three. This makes most sense, because the acquired player would have a full week to practice with the team and to get acquainted with new line mates.

2. If there is no precursor deal, then why do this? As I have said earlier in this blog, the idea of bringing in a 4th line center when we already have an abundance of them is puzzling. In the last preseason game, Mike Zigomanis won 19 of 22 draws. Zigomanis is know league wide as one of the best faceoff specialists. This will be one of the few trades Burke has failed on, if nothing happens in the next week.

My prediction, and this is based off absolutely nothing, is that Kyle Turris will be a Toronto Maple Leaf by Sunday. He is having problems in Phoenix, and Burkes trade trends seem to be very similar: pick up struggling young players when their value is lowest and give them a fresh start. This is exactly why Turris to Toronto makes a lot of sense. Although he hasn't lived up to his full potential yet, he still is 22, and has shown flashes of brilliance.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

David Steckel to Toronto

New Jersey trades C, David Steckel to Toronto for a 4th round pick in 2012.

Not sure what this means for the Leafs right now. Besides being a elite at face-offs, Steckel brings nothing to the table that we don't already have. My gut feeling is that this is a precursor to a bigger trade that will happen possibly tonight, or a week from tonight. This move on its own does not make sense. Burke must be planning something else.

Steckels only claim to fame - if you want to call it that - is that he is the one who gave Crosby his concussion.

If this results in no future trades, I see this as a bad move, as Mike Zigomanis does the same job as Steckel. The only difference being Zigomanis was already in our organization.

Just have to wait and see. This will be an interesting 24-48 hours.

The New Kids in Town

Matt Frattin and Jake Gardiner. Two names not many expected to be in the lineup opening night against Montreal. Two players coming straight out of their respective schools to make the big team. Although Frattin was a possibility from the start to make the 23 man roster, the way he played throughout the preseason is a testament to his character. He took every opportunity given to him from coach Ron Wilson, and made the most of it.

Frattin will be expected to play with Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin, as Clarke MacArthur will serve his two game suspension to start the year. After those two games, he is expected to be slotted down to line three, with Tyler Bozak and Colby Armstrong. If he can produce consistently throughout the first month of the season, he should be safe. If not, currently injured LWer, Nazem Kadri, could return and take Frattins spot in the lineup.

Now for the real surprise. Puck moving defenceman, Jake Gardiner. He was acquired last year along with Joffrey Lupul for Francois Beauchemin. Gardiner entered camp poised to be with the Marlies of the AHL, but after stellar game after stellar game, Gardiner found himself on the brink of a roster spot; and after todays cuts, he is officially a Toronto Maple Leaf.

I expect Gardiner to be paired with either Mike Komisarek or Cody Franson, depending on which defenceman is give the final spot on the blue line. Although he has made the team, if Gardiner struggles early, it is likely that he will be sent down to the AHL to round out his game. That is not a bad scenario at all. If he continues to shine, the Leafs have struck gold on another young player.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Is it Thursday?

I'm sitting in my room, watching some old youtube videos of the Leafs playoff runs from years ago. Yea, go ahead and laugh. I haven't watched playoff hockey since I was in Junior High - just to put that in perspective - I am now in year three of my post secondary education. I feel like a young kid excited and ready for Christmas, except my Christmas is opening day.

My expectations for the Leafs are high this year. Can they miss the playoffs? Of course they can and there is a good chance that happens. With that being said, the Leafs also have a good chance of breaking 7th or 8th spot in the East. This is easily the deepest Leafs team since the 03-04 team led by such names as Ed Belfour, Mats Sundin, Gary Roberts, Darcy Tucker and many other great Leafs. This teams failure will come down to one person, and one person only - Ron Wilson.

Ron Wilson has been give three different rosters to work with in his time as Leafs bench boss. Three things have remained consistent over that time: Bad PP, Bad PK and no playoff berths. If the Leafs struggle early, Wilson should be fired immediately and replaced by Scott Gordon for the rest of the year. Dallas Eakins should be interviewed at the end of the season and be made full time coach starting next year.

Of course, that is our worst case scenario.

The biggest key for the Leafs this year is a strong start. By Christmas the past three seasons, the Leafs have had no more than 14 wins. That is a huge problem. The Leafs play 11 games in October, and anything less than a 5-5-1 record will be troubling.

Many questions will begin to be answered Thursday. Is Reimer the real deal? Will the Grabovski line repeat its dominance from last year? Will Kessel continue to score at an elite pace, despite the lack of playmakers around him?

Is it Thursday yet?