Posted On Friday, 12.12.2014 / 9:30 AM

By Mike Brophy - Correspondent / - 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship blog

McDavid 'very hopeful' he'll play in WJC exhibition

TORONTO -- Connor McDavid was wearing gold. Can he help Canada win gold?

McDavid, the top prospect for the 2015 NHL Draft and the injured prospect for Canada's National Junior Team for the 2015 World Junior Championship, wore a don't-hit-me gold jersey at the team's first gathering at MasterCard Centre on Thursday.

Don't be fooled by the jersey, McDavid said. He's ready to play.

"It's fine," McDavid said of his injured hand. "I felt good. Obviously I had a couple of hiccups with the puck, but I was shooting it fine."

McDavid has been skating for the past three weeks after breaking his hand in a fight in November and expects to be in the lineup when Canada plays its first game at the 2015 World Junior Championship Dec. 26 in Montreal.

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.09.2014 / 12:40 PM

By Mike Brophy - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Flames at Maple Leafs

TORONTO -- It has been nearly five years since defenseman Dion Phaneuf was acquired from the Calgary Flames, but the Toronto Maple Leafs captain still gets up for games against his old team.

"I think for me it's always special to remember the times there," Phaneuf said of Calgary. "It's where I started my career and it means something to me any time you play a former team."

The Maple Leafs, who are 3-1-0 on their five-game homestand, will host the Flames on Tuesday at Air Canada Centre.

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Posted On Saturday, 12.06.2014 / 12:30 PM

By Mike Brophy - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Canucks at Maple Leafs

TORONTO –Toronto Maple Leafs veteran right wing David Clarkson said his team has to put Thursday behind them, referencing a 5-3 defeat against his old team, the New Jersey Devils.

The Devils were missing seven regulars, but out-played the Maple Leafs and scored a convincing win.

Now the Maple Leafs will host the Vancouver Canucks Saturday night in the fourth game of a five-game home stand at Air Canada Centre.

“Last game wasn’t great, but out of the last 10 or 11 games we have done well,” Clarkson said. “You are going to have nights that don’t go your way and you wish things went differently, but you have to get ready for what’s ahead of you.”

The Canucks, who are fourth in the NHL standings at 18-7-1, have won two in a row and are 7-2-1 in their past 10. The team has settled in nicely with first-year coach Willie Desjardins.

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.02.2014 / 12:42 PM

By Mike Brophy - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Stars at Maple Leafs

TORONTO -- The question used to be Tyler or Taylor? Now it is Tyler or Phil?

Prior to the 2010 NHL Draft the big question was who deserved to go first, Taylor Hall of the Windsor Spitfires or Tyler Seguin of the Plymouth Whalers. Hall was chosen first by the Edmonton Oilers and Seguin went second to the Boston Bruins, with whom he won the Stanley Cup in 2011.

Things have changed a bit since.

Hall has proven himself worthy of being the No. 1 pick with the Oilers, though his team has not enjoyed much success. Seguin lasted three seasons with the Bruins and was traded to the Dallas Stars in 2013, where he has emerged as a serious threat to capture the Art Ross Trophy as the League's leading scorer.

Nobody talks about Tyler or Taylor now; not since the Toronto Maple Leafs traded two first-round picks to the Bruins -- one of which was used on Seguin -- and a second-round pick for forward Phil Kessel.

That's when it became Tyler or Phil. At least in Toronto, and it comes up every time the two play against one another.

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Posted On Saturday, 11.29.2014 / 12:10 PM

By Mike Brophy - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Capitals at Maple Leafs

TORONTO -- The waiting game is over for David Booth.

The left wing, who signed a one-year contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs last summer, will finally make his home debut with his new team after playing his first game of the season Wednesday against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Maple Leafs host the Washington Capitals Saturday night at Air Canada Centre.

Booth, 30, missed the first 21 games with a broken foot. In his first game he played 9:33 and had one shot on goal in a 4-3 overtime loss to Pittsburgh.

Booth is no stranger to being on injured reserve. He played just 66 games with the Vancouver Canucks last season and only 12 the year before. In 2011-12 he was limited to just six games because of a concussion.

"It's more frustrating just not playing, and whether it's a new team or an old team, it doesn't make that much of a difference," Booth said. "When you come back you want to get out there and prove yourself. When you are on a new team and you break your foot, it is a struggle and it can get you down. I've had to deal with this before, and every time it happens you learn a little bit more. You learn the most through difficult times."

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Posted On Thursday, 11.20.2014 / 12:44 PM

By Mike Brophy - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Lightning at Maple Leafs

TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs are hoping to kick things off on the right foot against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday.

Scoring the first goal of the game would be a nice way to start, if only to appease the home fans who have been restless of late.

"It would be nice," Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri said. "A lot of times when you generate that first goal your chances of winning go up. That said, there have been a lot of cases when we have come from behind, so if we don't get the first goal it's not the end of the world."

It won't be an easy task. The Lightning are the highest scoring team in the NHL with 72 goals, 10 more than the next team, the Pittsburgh Penguins.

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Posted On Tuesday, 11.18.2014 / 12:40 PM

By Mike Brophy - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Predators at Maple Leafs

TORONTO -- Eighteen games into the season, Toronto Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle believes his team has not yet forged an identity.

"I just think we're too erratic and too inconsistent," Carlyle said. "In the games before the games we played this past weekend we had kind of adopted a style that was working and then we seemed to lose it. I go back to the work ethic. I don't think we out-competed people and that, to me, is the most alarming thing. We have to out-work some people to have success."

The Maple Leafs, who host the Nashville Predators on Tuesday, earned a 6-1 victory against the Boston Bruins on Nov. 12, but lost 2-1 to the Pittsburgh Penguins at home Saturday and were defeated 6-2 by the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday.

Already there have been peaks and valleys in the Maple Leafs season, but veteran defenseman Cody Franson said that is not surprising.

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Posted On Monday, 11.17.2014 / 8:32 PM

By Mike Brophy - Correspondent / - 2014 Hockey Hall of Fame blog

Former Red Wings goalie Osgood hopes to be inducted

TORONTO -- When it comes to debating who might be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in the future, Chris Osgood's name usually comes up.

And the argument could be made Osgood had the numbers in his 17-year NHL career to be considered for induction.

The former goalie had his best years with the Detroit Red Wings; Osgood won two Stanley Cups, became the 10th goalie to win 400 games, is 10th all-time with 401 victories, has the seventh best goals-against average of all-time (2.49), led the NHL in GAA in the regular season and Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2007-08 and led the NHL in wins in 1995-96 (39).

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Posted On Monday, 11.17.2014 / 8:26 PM

By Mike Brophy - Correspondent / - 2014 Hockey Hall of Fame blog

LaFontaine happy to see ex-teammate Hasek inducted

TORONTO -- There's nothing like going up against a future Hall of Fame goaltender every day to sharpen the skills of a goal-scorer.

Pat LaFontaine knows all about that.

LaFontaine, who was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2003, was a teammate of Dominik Hasek with the Buffalo Sabres. Hasek was inducted into the Hall of Fame on Monday.

"I've never seen a goalie make the saves that he made," LaFontaine said. "The ways that he would turn his body into a pretzel and somehow twist and drop his stick to makes the saves; I don't know if we'll ever see them again. He is simply one of the greatest goalies to ever play."

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Posted On Friday, 11.14.2014 / 12:56 PM

By Mike Brophy - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Penguins at Maple Leafs

TORONTO -- Peter Holland will take the ice time any way he can get it.

The Toronto Maple Leafs center approached coach Randy Carlyle recently and asked if he could start killing penalties.

Carlyle saw this as an opportunity to give more meaningful minutes to a player who was chosen in the first round of the 2009 NHL Draft (No. 15). With a three-game goal streak he'll carry into the game Friday against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Holland is starting to find his game at the NHL level.

Not many players have the gumption to ask the coach for added duty, but Holland felt it was a risk worth taking.

"Yeah, I mean you never really want to say to your coach that you want more ice time, but it was one of those things where I noticed we have so many skilled guys on the power play and I probably wasn't going to get a shot at that, so I felt killing penalties was an opportunity for me to get an extra minute or two in the game and help me stay mentally into the game too," Holland said. "If you are playing a bottom-six role you don't get as much ice, and this is a way to get a couple more touches of the puck and keep my confidence up."

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Quote of the Day

He scores 50 goals, they go in, they go in, and they go in. And I think, 'Why can't I do that?'

— Capitals forward Brooks Laich on teammate Alex Ovechkin, who scored his 50th goal of the season Tuesday in a 4-2 win vs. the Hurricanes
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