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Five Takeaways - Leafs @ Sabres - 09/23/17

Here are five takeaways from the Maple Leafs' 3-1 pre-season victory over the Buffalo Sabres Saturday at KeyBank Center:

by Adam Proteau /

van Riemsdyk's opening tally

TOR@BUF: van Riemsdyk pokes one home to open scoring

James van Riemsdyk crashes the net on a Nikita Zaitsev wrister and taps a rebound past Robin Lehner, giving the Maple Leafs an early 1-0 lead

  • 00:59 •

1. Leafs follow up strong game Friday with first period lead thanks to van Riemsdyk's early goal. One night after they beat the Sabres 3-0 in Toronto, the Leafs headed down to Buffalo for a rematch - albeit, one with drastically different lineups for both teams - and the Buds once again scored the first goal of the contest. However, unlike Friday's game, which had a first period that ended without a goal being scored by either side, Saturday's showdown saw the Leafs grab a lead at the 5:25 mark of the opening period when winger James van Riemsdyk netted his second pre-season marker.

The goal sequence began with centre Tyler Bozak's slick pass to blueliner Nikita Zaitsev, who earned the secondary assist on van Riemsdyk's goal; and winger Mitch Marner got the primary assist for his second helper of the pre-season. Equally impressive was the fact Toronto prevented the Sabres from getting a shot on netminder Frederik Andersen until nearly six minutes of the first period elapsed. The Buds kept the pressure on the home team and outshot the Sabres 12-5 in the period, and dominated in both the faceoff circle (where they won 72 percent of all draws) and in giveaways (Buffalo had eight to Toronto's three). 

The necessary caveat always has to be that, in non-regular-season games, coaches are always tinkering with lineups that aren't likely to resemble the ones they'll rely on once the regular season begins, so this should be seen for what it is: a work in progress. But for the second straight game, Toronto came out of the dressing room looking confident and hungry, and that's got to please head coach Mike Babcock as the Buds move toward the halfway point of the pre-season.

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Five Takeaways - Leafs vs. Sabres - 09/22/17

Here are five takeaways from the Maple Leafs' 3-0 pre-season win over the Buffalo Sabres Friday at Ricoh Coliseum:

by Adam Proteau /

1. Leafs pile up shots in opening frame, but neither side produces offence in first 20 minutes. Playing in front of a full house of 8,178 in the home of their American League affiliate Marlies team, the Leafs came out of the gate flying, and put up a barrage of shots - including a breakaway shot from centre Auston Matthews - on Sabres netminder Linus Ullmark, outshooting Buffalo 14-6 through the first 20 minutes of action. However, Ullmark was sharp, and the two teams entered the first intermission tied at 0-0.

The Leafs came into the game 0-2 in their pre-season schedule and part of the reason for that was a steady stream of players headed to the penalty box. (In fairness, this was true of most NHL teams as they adjusted to a new set of standards for slashing and faceoff violations.) But Toronto took only one minor penalty in the first, while Buffalo was assessed two minors; the Buds' discipline was coming around, and as a result, their opponent's chances were limited.   

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Maple Leafs Adjust to New Rules, New Players, New Season

by Adam Proteau Proteautype /

Ron Hainsey has seen the structure and content of NHL training camps develop quite a bit since he began his NHL career in 2002-03 with the Montreal Canadiens. And the new member of the Maple Leafs blueline can best sum it up in one word: compactness.

"It's shorter now," Hainsey said Thursday after the Leafs continued camp at their west-Toronto practice facility. "When I first started, I think we had five, six days of scrimmage, maybe even like a week before you played a pre-season game. And my first camp, you went through a week of development camp, a week of rookie camp and then regular camp - so camp was five or six weeks. Now it's 20 days, really, and Day One is a testing/medical day, so that doesn't even count. So it's 17 days of on-ice work, and bam - we're going."

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Five Takeaways - Leafs vs. Senators - 09/19/17

Here are five takeaways from the Maple Leafs' 5-2 pre-season loss to the Ottawa Senators Tuesday at Air Canada Centre:

by Adam Proteau /

Marleau scores in Leafs debut

OTT@TOR: Marleau snipes wrister in Leafs debut

Patrick Marleau collects a feed along the boards and roofs a wrister past Mike Condon to score in his debut with the Maple Leafs

  • 00:53 •

1. Senators take early lead, but Marleau's first goal as a Leaf evens things up. After the Leafs opened their pre-season schedule Monday with a 6-2 loss to the Senators in Ottawa, the two teams squared off again - only this time, in the Buds-friendly confines of the ACC. And although the Sens again scored the first goal of the night Tuesday when Logan Brown beat Frederik Andersen on a power play 4:28 into the opening frame, Toronto settled down shortly thereafter and grabbed their first lead of the pre-season as they headed into the first intermission.

The game-tying goal came at 11:26 of the first, and it came from new Leaf Patrick Marleau, who broke in alone to the left side of netminder Mike Condon and snapped a shot up and over him for his first goal in a Toronto uniform. The ACC crowd - who gave Marleau a solid ovation when he was introduced prior to the game - was thrilled to see the veteran score, and they were even happier approximately six minutes later, when Marleau was part of a Buds 5-on-3 power play that led to winger James van Riemsdyk connecting for his first of the pre-season to make it 2-1 Leafs at the 17:09 mark.

Considering the Leafs finished the first period of Monday's game trailing the Senators 4-1, this was a vastly improved performance to start the evening.

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Five Takeaways - Leafs @ Senators - 09/18/17

Here are five takeaways from the Maple Leafs' 6-2 pre-season loss to the Ottawa Senators Monday at Canadian Tire Centre:

by Adam Proteau /

1. Sens build big lead in opening period as Leafs struggle to stay out of penalty box. In their first game of the pre-season - and with a roster that was a mixture of NHL mainstays and youngsters trying to earn a spot on the squad - the Leafs found themselves trailing 2:20 into the opening period after a misjudged line change led to a delayed-penalty goal by Senators winger Ty Randell.

Discipline proved to be an issue just 2:05 later, as Ottawa winger Mike Hoffman beat goalie Curtis McElhinney for a power play marker to double the home side's lead. And the Sens made it 3-0 at the 7:08 mark on Hoffman's second of the night. This certainly wasn't the start Toronto head coach Mike Babcock envisioned, but resilience was a hallmark of his team last season, and as the new group gained familiarity among themselves, he no doubt expected some bumps in the road in pre-season.

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Maple Leafs Trim Training Camp Roster

The Toronto Maple Leafs announced Sunday that the hockey club has trimmed their training camp roster by 24 players.

by Toronto Maple Leafs MapleLeafs /

The Toronto Maple Leafs announced Sunday that the hockey club has trimmed their training camp roster by 24 players. The Maple Leafs now have 49 players (28 forwards, 17 defencemen and four goaltenders) remaining in camp and will be back on the ice for practice tomorrow at MasterCard Centre in split groups beginning at 10 a.m.

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2017 Training Camp: Preview

The 2017-18 Toronto Maple Leafs gathered Thursday ahead of the team's 2017 Training Camp.

by Adam Proteau Proteautype /

As the Maple Leafs gathered in their west-Toronto practice facility to meet the media and head out together to Niagara Falls and kick off training camp Friday, there was an overwhelming sense of optimism in the air - both inside and outside the arena. Following a 2016-17 season in which they surprised a number of people by making the playoffs and pushing the Presidents' Trophy-winning Washington Capitals to six games in their first-round series, Leafs players and management understand their legion of fans now will be looking for at least as much success this year, and with new additions to the roster and the growth of their younger players, the organization believes it has the components to achieve bigger and better things.

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Toronto Maple Leafs Announce Plans For Next Century Game

On December 19, 1917, the Toronto Arenas took the ice for the first time as an NHL team, marking the first game ever played in league history.

by Toronto Maple Leafs MapleLeafs /

Exactly 100 years later, the Next Century Game presented by Scotiabank will be played at Air Canada Centre at a special time of 2 p.m., and see the Toronto Maple Leafs face off against the Carolina Hurricanes.

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Five Takeaways: Rookie Tournament vs. Ottawa

Five Takeaways from the Maple Leafs' 4-3 shootout loss to the Ottawa Senators in the 2017 Rookie Tournament.

by Adam Proteau Proteautype /

Here are five takeaways from the Maple Leafs' 4-3 shootout loss to the Ottawa Senators Sunday in the second game of their 2017 Rookie Tournament at Ricoh Coliseum:

1. Leafs shake off Friday loss with stellar start Sunday. The Maple Leafs' rookies were aiming to improve on an uneven performance in Friday's 5-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens, and that's exactly what happened Sunday against Ottawa: following a great setup by blueliner Fedor Gordeev, winger Mārtiņš Dzierkals scored his second goal of the tournament 90 seconds into the first period to give Toronto a 1-0 lead, and 1:08 later, winger Ryan McGregor capitalized on a scramble in front of Sens goalie Kevin Bailie to score his first and put the Buds ahead by two.

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Five Takeaways: Rookie Tournament vs. Montreal

Five takeaways from the Maple Leafs' 5-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens in the 2017 Rookie Tournament

by Adam Proteau Proteautype /

Here are five takeaways from the Maple Leafs' 5-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens Friday in the first game of their 2017 Rookie Tournament at Ricoh Coliseum:

1. Canadiens strike first, but Kaskisuo keeps it close. The opening period of Game No. 1 of the Leafs' three-team tournament (that also includes the Ottawa Senators) was a fast and spirited affair, with the arch-rival franchises displaying the passion that has defined their battles over the past century. Toronto found themselves trailing first in the game after Habs centre Thomas Ebbing took possession of the puck just inside the Buds' blueline, quickly moved in on Leafs goalie Kasimir Kaskisuo, and fired it over his glove to give Montreal a 1-0 advantage at 8:07 of the first frame.

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