After a horrid stretch of hockey and falling to fifth in the Atlantic division, the Toronto Maple Leafs have drawn criticism from fans and media alike. But the team that is currently disappointing Leafs Nation isn't exactly what it was meant to be.
Remember when there was concern in the Toronto Maple Leafs camp that Nazem Kadri would continue to miss at the NHL level? That Phil Kessel wasn't going to be able to score goals in 2013? That James Reimer wasn't a bona-fide NHL number 1 goalie?
In what would be a terrible blow to the Toronto Maple Leafs, it seems almost certain star Joffrey Lupul has a concussion, and it may be severe. Lupul has played strongly when he's been in the line-up this season and will be missed.
Phil Kessel's goal in Winnipeg last night - late in the game, late in the season for his first - didn't just give the Toronto Maple Leafs a win. It gave them, and their fans, a Zamboni-load of hope and the knowledge that the Leafs are contenders.
Here we go: they can't afford to go 8 straight seasons without the postseason. Some think it's a lock the Maple Leafs will extend their streak as the NHL team with the longest playoff drought but, well, they are wrong. They will get there.
Some of them are destined to head back to the AHL, but of the 7 Toronto Marlies called up to the Toronto Maple Leafs camp, some will stick. They include 1 goalie, 4 defensemen and 2 forwards, with all but one having NHL experience.
There's no need for a recitation of the NHL deeds of Roberto Luongo, even before coming to the Canucks the gold-medal goalie was an all-star. But he has a flaw and it's one that, with the lockout now over, may prevent him from being traded this season.
The desperation being felt by Canucks GM Mike Gillis must surely be mounting. Yes, his Canucks won their second straight President's Trophy but a window to winning the Stanley Cup is closing and he needs the Roberto Luongo trade to keep it open.
It hasn't been considered by anyone else, and if presented to Bob McKenzie or Pierre LeBrun or Doug McLean they'd call it a greater work of fiction than 'Slapshot'. Nick Kypreos might even get mad: "Are you kidding me?" he might bellow. "Not a chance!"
The Abbotsford Heat started game two red-hot but fizzled by the end as the Toronto Marlies roared back with five unanswered goals to even up its Western Conference semifinal in the AHL playoffs.
To have one of the NHL's premier players, a gold medalist, toil in such obscurity for so long, to go his first 8 years without one playoff victory. To put it mildy - that sucks. It's a shame for Rick Nash, the NHL and hockey fans.
Home sweet home. After ending a nine-game road trip the Toronto Marlies returned to Ricoh Coliseum Saturday to complete the home and home sweep with a 3-2 win over its rival Rochester Americans.