The Toronto Maple Leafs wrapped up their pre-season this weekend with back-to-back losses against Central division teams Detroit and Columbus. The troublesome trend continued as the Maple Leafs fumbled a late game lead in both nights taking the loss.
Just like Friday night, and most every other pre-season game this September/October, the Maple Leafs put in a solid effort, and were rewarded with a loss, something I think will be a trend as the season rolls on.
Sure, Detroit didn't have their bigger guys in the lineup, but the Maple Leafs did their best to keep up with Mike Babcock's Red Wings and had even outshot the defending champions 14-5 in the opening frame.
A real solid night by a lot of players on both nights, but there are a few guys I would like to touch on now.
Niklas Hagman led the way for me as far as Maple Leafs forwards go. Hagman was solid at both ends of the ice and created chances in front of the oppositions net all night long.
Hagman only managed two helpers during the weekend, but was a constant force for the Maple Leafs and his presence was noticeable at all times.
Mikhail Grabovski is another forward who has only gotten better since the start of the exhibition schedule, and appears to be rounding into form just in time for the start of the regular season.
Just a quick note on the injury front for the Toronto Maple Leafs, who have four players currently nursing some ailments.
Dominic Moore, who has a strained groin, wasn't inserted by the coaching staff during the final weekend of pre-season action because they didn't feel the need to push him. According to coach Ron Wilson, Moore is probable for the start of the regular season this Thursday in Detroit. Lets hope for the teams sake he can play at the level he was at before the injury.
The other injured forward, Nikolai Kulemin is also likely to suit up Thursday. Kulemin has been injured since the start of the week, nursing an undisclosed knee injury.
Meanwhile on the back end Pavel Kubina and Jeff Finger are also out with minor injuries. Kubina, who has been nursing a knee injury, is expected to be ready in time for the season opener, while Finger, who is out with a sore foot, isn't going to be ready for the start of the regular season, only fuelling the speculation that Luke Schenn will start the season with the Maple Leafs.
Blue And White Week Starts Tomorrow
Blue and White week sweeps the city of Toronto starting tomorrow. Fans will have the opportunity to take part in activities throughout the week, leading up to the home opener this Saturday night against the Canadiens.
Among the festivities will be the Thursday night tailgate party where there will be prizes, skills competitions, as well as the Maple Leafs Mobile Fanzone, which features an exact replica of the Maple Leafs dressing room. Fans can come down Thursday and watch the game on the big screen while interacting with Maple Leafs players of the past.
Odds And Ends
Just a couple of quick notes on some projects I am working on as the regular season gets underway.
Tuesday I will drop an article taking an in-depth look at the roster of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Now that pre-season has been completed, we will be able to take a clearer look at the club and what we can expect from it.
Also I am still doing some yeomen work on some things that I don't have an exact timetable for right now.
First off is the radio show, Leafs Talk Today, which will re-debut shortly with a new co-host, fellow Maple Leafs writer Jordan Vertone.
My regular co-host Josh Lewis is not off the show. He is simply taking some time off as he is a part of an election party, and here in Canada it is crunch time as far as the elections go. Josh should be back with us shortly.
The other thing I am working on is a new series called "Maple Leafs: Legends And Lore" which will be a new series looking back at the history of the Toronto Maple Leafs, detailing not only it's players, but it's stories that have made this franchise one of the most historic in all of sports.
The new series will be print articles, but I am also looking to produce a podcast of the series, complete with audio files and commentary.