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Leafs @ Oilers LIVE Blog

by Mike Ulmer / Toronto Maple Leafs
8:52 p.m.

Ah, this is why you follow the Maple Leafs.

The free agent acquisition by the deposed general manager is unhappy about being benched. Jason Blake gets another go tonight in Edmonton.

Everyone and his uncle is writing about Brian Burke’s chances of becoming the Leafs next General Manager.

My point is, in the other 29 NHL cities, they are talking about the team. In Toronto, it’s everything but.

So pull up a chair. The circus is in Edmonton and I’ll be blogging all night.

9:27 p.m.

Here is my question on the hit by Zack Stortini.

What did it accomplish to temporarily separate Dominic Moore from his senses?

The puck was gone. At the time of impact, it was at least 20 feet away.

The purpose of a bodycheck is to separate the player from the puck.

Don’t talk to me about finishing your check. Finishing your check is crapola espoused every Saturday night at the first intermission.

You finish your check when the guy still has the puck, not when the puck is gone. There is no check to finish when the puck is gone.

Now, many will argue the value of intimidation and toughness.

But what Stortini did, and what Ryan Hollweg for that matter did, wasn’t tough. It was pointless. Tough is playing the game hard.

John Bower is 84. Maybe the nicest man in the world. If he isn’t, I haven’t met the man who is. Kind, gentle, humble guy and one of the most-loved Leafs of any era.

9:47 p.m. - End Of First Period

Couple of noticeable things.

Luke Schenn has got his mojo back after a poor night in Calgary.

The Antropov-Ponikarovsky-Stajan unit has more gas than the Grabovsky-Hagman-Kulemin line.

Ron Wilson is inserting Anton Stralman into the game as if he was dipping him into a shark tank with beef duct-taped to his limbs.

Ian White wasn’t a bad defenceman but freed of the constraints of his position, he is a wild card out there.

10:33 p.m. 

Ian White playing the point on a five on three power play after being scratched for the first 11 games of the season. Jason Blake plays big time minutes after sitting out against Calgary on Tuesday. Say what you want about Leafs’ coach Ron Wilson, he hands out second-chances like candy.

Tomas Kaberle scores for the Leafs to even out Sam Gagner’s first period marker. Nikolai Kulemin adds another power play marker and suddenly the Leafs have a 2-1 lead and two straight power play goals.

Ethan Moreau converts as Ponikarovsky and Schenn are caught flat-footed.

Moreau is the Oilers 12th captain. How would you like to join a list that includes Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Kevin Lowe and Doug Weight?

Ryan Hollweg is a member of the newest clique in sports… players who are wearing deliberately bad moustaches. The whole thing started with Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi and then spread to hockey thanks to Anaheim forward George Parros.

10:37 - End Of Second Period

Leafs lead the Oilers 3-2 after a great shot by Antropov.

A lesser man would point to an earlier paragraph in the blog pointing out how the Antropov line was going well. Unfortunately, I neglected to mention the obvious offside missed by the officials that led to Antropov’s goal.

It sounds like the Leafs fans are giving Oiler lovers a run in the chant department. Nice to see, Leaf fans have had so little to crow about since the lockout.

11:05 p.m. 

Man, do the Oil look good in that retro jersey. I’m expecting to see Glenn Anderson dash down the wing at any moment.

The NHL in recent years has resisted radical plans to increase scoring (bigger nets come to mind) in favor of smaller ones. The penalized team always has to face the puck off in its own end. Teams that ice the puck can’t change. Both are great changes that consistently impact games.

Jason Blake sets up the great Ian White for a 4-2 lead. Starting to think this Wilson guy knows what he’s doing.

Nik Hagman is the Leafs best player. Backchecks like a fiend. Aggressive, clean, honest. If my kid was playing hockey, I’d point to the television and say ‘look at number 9.’

11:24 p.m. - Game Over

Kind of surprised Wilson did not use Curtis Joseph in goal tonight. It seemed a perfect way to get Toskala a little rest in the middle of a three-game trip. Unlike many trips, this one has a day off in between each game and the next. I’d use Joseph in Vancouver on Saturday and bring Toskala back against Boston.

Grabovski scores his eighth goal thanks to a great feed by Blake. Let’s see, the Leafs gave up a second rounder in 2010 for Grabovski and yet Cliff Fletcher was assailed for trading away his future. Kid looks like the future to me.

The final is 5-2 Leafs.

What have we learned? Well, we have learned that true to his word, Wilson has made the Maple Leafs accountable. He has been flexible, moving White up and back through the game. We have learned that Luke Schenn still hasn’t played two consecutive bad games as a pro.

We’ve learned that at the end of the day, players don’t care who their general manager is going to be. They care about what the movie is on the bus.

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