Will they or won’t they – Toronto Maple Leafs

September 28th, 2009 by Fantana Leave a reply »

The big question in Leafsland right now is if Toronto will make the playoffs this year. Before I answer this question, I have a few Maple Leaf jokes I’d like to share.

Q: What do the Toronto Maple Leafs, Blue Jays and Raptors all have in common?

A: None of them know how to play hockey.

Q: What do Maple Leafs fans do when Toronto scores a goal at the ACC?

A: They stand up and straighten their ties.

Q: What will Toronto say if Hamilton is awarded an NHL franchise?

A: They’ll say, “We want one too!”

Q: What do Leafs fans do when Toronto wins the Stanley Cup?

A: They turn off the X-Box.

Okay, that’s it for now. If you have any funny Leafs jokes, post them in the comments section below. This should be fun. I brought these jokes out because after this season, they probably won’t be as true as there are right now.

Reasons Why Toronto Will Make the Playoffs

Toronto have overhauled their team (for the better) this season. They’ve got a solid back end, led by experienced blueliners like Mike Komisarek, Tomas Kaberle, Francois Beauchemin and Garnett Exelby. Jeff Finger and Luke Schenn will continue to improve and are likely to have strong seasons this year. Finally, Ian White is a great two-way defenseman who can contribute at both ends of the rink.

Up front, Toronto has a roster that could do some damage this year. The second half of last season saw a line of Nik Hagman, Mikhail Grabovsky and Jason Blake develop some terrific chemistry. Notably, Jason Blake seemed to find his speed again and actually went to the net. Who knew you could score goals from there? Toronto’s also got some promising youth breaking into the lineup and it’s been quite a while since Leafs fans have been able to say that. You can’t help but be impressed with Viktor Stahlberg’s size and speed this pre-season. His chemistry with Tyler Bozak has been fun to watch and once Phil Kessel returns in November, this line will be even better. Jiri Tlusty and Matt Stajan will also figure into Toronto’s plans up front and are both in need of strong seasons. For these two, it’s a make-or-break season, with players line Nazem Kadri and Christian Hanson on the bubble of making this team. Thus, I expect both players to have career years.

Reasons Why Toronto Won’t Make the Playoffs

As many fans and experts have predicted, Toronto’s fate this season is directly linked to the quality of goaltending they receive from the tandem of Vesa Toskala and Jonas Gustavsson. While Toskala didn’t do much to endear himself to Leafs fans last season, it turned out that he was playing injured for much of the year. He’s apparently much healthier this season, but the jury is still out on that. He’s also got Gustavsson right behind him, and that could either serve as a motivator to play well or to be completely unnerved. Ottawa Senators fans will remember how Martin Gerber fell apart with a young Ray Emery playing behind him. Toskala’s never struck me as a clutch performer and I could seem him crumbling like Gerber did. While Gustavsson had a strong playoff last year in Sweden, he’s a rookie in the NHL now and this league is much faster and much more skilled. All this makes me apprehensive about the Leafs goaltending this season and ultimately, about their post-season chances this year.

Also, with such a new-looking team, Toronto appears to be missing a clearly defined captain that can help steer the ship while players adjust to their new teammates and roles. I could see Komisarek being named captain, but it’s kind of hard to lead your team when you’re one of the newest guys on the squad. I mean, if he were to organize a team-building exercise, he’d have to ask for directions from someone like Jiri Tlusty. Weird! Where’s Doug Gilmore or Wendel Clark when you need them? Haha.

Final Prediction

My final prediction is that while I believe the Leafs will be much more competitive than they have been in previous years, I can’t see them squeezing into the 7th or 8th spot in the Eastern Conference. I’m not sure they’re at the same level as teams like Buffalo, Montreal or Ottawa, who will definitely be fighting for those last playoff spots. While Toronto’s revamped roster is stronger than it has been in years, building chemistry as a team will take time and it could be months before all of their new acquisitions settle in to their roles. I also feel that the lack of an established captain will hurt them. Finally, I think that with all of their truculence and belligerence, the Maple Leafs are going to need some really, really good penalty killers and I don’t think they’ve got that at the moment. Expect Toronto to finish in that familiar 9th place position, as they have done in previous seasons. The big difference this year is that the future looks promising and a 9th place finish will be considered a pre-cursor of things to come.

Your reporter in the field,

Fantana

Follow Fantana on Twitter or be a fan of Stayclassy on Facebook.

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19 comments

  1. Rob R. says:

    I don’t think the Leafs have a hope of making the playoffs this year. As far as I can tell, the only team in the East that has taken a step backwards is the Habs, and they’re still better than the Leafs are.

    Sure, they’ve gotten a lot tougher, but stupid penalties don’t win you games. To win game, you should score a few goals first, which I think they lack the firepower to do consistently. They’re young guys looked pretty good in pre-season, but let’s not forget that pre-season against another team’s AHL players is a far cry from the Bruins or Penguins in March.

    They’ll end the season 10th in the east… I’m calling it.

  2. Here’s the Leafs’ offensive rankings over the past four years:
    05-06: 9th
    06-07: 8th
    07-08: 11th
    08-09: 10th

    Scoring isn’t the problem. Stopping goals is where they were weak and they added two of the top UFA defencemen and the best goalie outside of the NHL.

    It’ll definitely be a battle to finish 8th. I don’t know that not having someone wearing a ‘C’ is that much of a problem. It’s an important role to give out but ultimately leadership has to come from the group.

    Nice of you to leave any funny jokes out of your post so that others could post theirs in the comment section.

  3. Nock4Six says:

    They’re a strong team this year. Although I agree, it takes time to build that rapport with each other on the ice, I think its foolish to dismiss them so quickly.

    Time will tell. As long as they beat Ottawa, I won’t have to wear your wretched jersey. And as long as they beat Montreal, I won’t have to deliver 10 lbs of Montreal Smoked meat to my guy.

  4. Nock4Six says:

    Actually, it’s mantooth’s jersey i’d have to wear.

  5. Champ says:

    oh god not his jersey, I heard he doesn’t shower…but I think the leafs will finish in 9th as well. Next year though they will most definitely be a fun team to watch with a lot of the young bucks cracking the lineup.

  6. Burgundy says:

    What do the Leafs and The Titanic have in common?
    This should help some of the lame jokes get going….

    What do the Leafs and The Titanic have in common?
    - They both look good until they hit the ice.

    Do you know how many leafs it takes to win the Stanley Cup?
    - No? Me neither.

    Why is the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto?
    - It’s the only way the Stanley Cup will ever be in Toronto.

    Why don’t the Maple Leafs drink tea?
    - Because the Canadiens have all the cups.

    Whats the difference between the Leafs and a cigarette machince?
    - The cigarette machince has PLAYER’S.

  7. Cigarette machine? Talk about topical humour…

    Why not just post the guy in the satin jersey? That seems like the level of ‘humour’ you’re going for…

  8. Mehta says:

    It would have been nice if this post had any funny jokes in them.

  9. kidkawartha says:

    How can you tell whether a joke falls flat or not? When it’s published by someone from the Habs or Sens.

  10. Fantana says:

    @ mehta – I’m sorry you’re a Leafs fan. But seriously, after a comment like that, you’ve got to have a least a few good jokes to share with Stayclassy!

    @ kidkawartha – that was a bit of a low blow, don’t you think?

  11. Burgundy says:

    A child stands in court before a judge. His parents are divorcing and the judge is asking him which parent he would like to live with. “Would you like to live with your mother?” the judge asks. “No! she beats me every night i dont want to live with her!”. So the judge says “Ok, you can go live with your dad then.” the child replies “No! he beats me every night as well! i dont want to live with him!” and the judge replies “Well if both your parents beat you then who do you want to live with?”.

    The boy replies “The Toronto Maple Leafs.” The judge is puzzled. “why would you want to live with them?” he asks. The boy replies “Because they dont beat anyone!”

  12. Tambland says:

    The Oilers skate out of an oil derrick.

    The Sharks skate out of a giant shark head.

    The Maple Leafs are still trying to find their way out of the used lawn bag.

  13. kidkawartha says:

    A Sens fan, a Habs fan and a Leafs fan are on vacation in Abu Dhabi, and get busted by the religious police for drinking copious amounts of smuggled beer.
    After two weeks in prison, they are dragged before the Mufti, where they are all sentenced as guilty, and given a choice of three punishments-
    1. 50 lashes
    2. 100 lashes with a pillow strapped to their back.
    3. 200 lashes with two pillows strapped to their back.
    The Sens fan is asked to choose first, and elects for the 100 lashes. The first 20 cut the pillow to pieces, and he crawls back to the sidelines, bleeding copiously.
    The Habs fan, making a careful judgement, elects for the 50 straight lashes. He comes out of it barely better and staggers his way to the sidelines.
    The Leafs fan asks to consult the Mufti on a point of law, and is granted the audience. He asks if there is a specific definition of pillow, and, after lengthy consultation of the law, the Mufti replies that there is not.
    The Leaf fan replies- “Excellent. In that case, I choose the 200 lashes, but strap both of those guys to my back first.”

  14. Tambland says:

    A Leafs fan would be lucky to get a Sens fan strapped to their back. Come on, we’re pickier than that.

  15. Charly says:

    Leave it to a Leafs fan to want 2 dudes strapped to him…

  16. kidkawartha says:

    Wow, great comebacks. You’re killing me here.

    A Sens fan goes up a woman at a bar and asks-
    “Want to go back to my place?’
    She turns and looks at him for a second before replying-
    “Well, I don’t know. Will 2 people fit under a rock?”

    Three hockey fans were driving along when they spied a body in the underbrush. Stopping their car, the three guys ran over to see what they could do. Unfortunately, they found the nude body of a deceased young woman.

    Being a gentlemen, the first guy dropped his Leaf’s hat over one breast. The second guy, an Oiler’s fan, placed his hat over the other breast. The Montreal Canadien fan then placed his hat over the woman’s very private part.

    Soon the police arrived. The coroner started checking over the body. He picked up the Leaf’s hat and quickly placed it back. He then picked up the Oiler’s hat and returned it. Then he picked up the Hab’s fan’s hat, put it down, then picked it up again inspecting the hat more closely, and then put it down. Then he picked it up a third time.

    By this time, the Hab’s fan was a bit irritated and he asked, “Why do you keep picking up that hat? Are you some kind of pervert or something?” The coroner responded with a wry smile, “Boy, I can’t figure it out. Usually when I come across one of these Hab’s hats, there’s an asshole under it.”

  17. Fantana says:

    That last one from Kidkawartha was awesome. Haha! I’m sure Charly will love that one!

  18. Charly says:

    An asshole with a few cups in his lifetime…

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