Mapleleafs.com's Mike Ulmer will be blogg LIVE during tonight's game. Not only will Mike be blogging but he will be taking your questions.
Mike will be blogging Live during tonight's Leafs vs. Hurricanes game.
[Standby] The host is placing this Live Blog into Standby Mode.
Ten minutes to game time, Leafs versus Hurriacanes and having blogged on the Raptors this afternoon, this constitutes the second live blog of the day. Look, I'm no hero. I could not pull this off without a crack team of tech wizards, research librarians and rotating personal massuers, or massussi or whatever the word is for a female who is not your wife but still rubs oil on your back. But I digress. I need you to make this the best blog possible. Please shoot your questions my way and I will endeavour to weave them into the game narrative as smooth as grass through a goose.
[Comment From PeteLeaf] Who's out for us? Who's in nets - Toskala is listed as "probable", can anyone confirm it?
Nope, it's Toskala. He goes against Cam Ward.
[Comment From Paul] I have noticed there has been a tonne of chatter lately regarding trading Kaberle for Blake Wheeler with some other components. Is there any chance of this being possible, given the fact the Bruins are in the same division and wheelers possible upside..Thanks so much. Love the live blogs
Hey, Paul. I love Blake Wheeler. He has 13 goals and he's six-foot-five with great touch. I can't imagine what it would take to pry this kind of a player free of Boston but I think, I know, the Leafs would jump at that kind of a deal. I would wish for this the next time you are blowing out your birthday cake.
Man, tonight's lineup is a great example of the game's ups and downs. You have Luke Schenn who seemed a longshot to make the team. Ian White, scratch for 11 straight games will be beside him. Jason Blake, by Ron Wilson's estimation his team's best player has rebounded from a terrible 15-goal season. Jiri Tlusty has been juggled up and down from the minors. Dominic Moore established himself as a player who could handle duty on the first two lines only this year. It's like they say about the weather in Calgary. If you don't like it, wait 15 minutes.
[Comment From Slim] Mike,Do you believe Jason Blake will have another breakthrough game?
Hey, Slim. I don't see why not. He scored three goals against this team last time they played.
The Leafs did a little 'welcome back Paul' segment on the scoreboard for Paul Maurice. In two seasons, Maurice did not produce the requisite number of wins. I have not yet devised a way of fixing the ability of a coach short of wins and losses. In that arbitrary category, Paul Maurice was lacking and yet I don't believe it. Any man that smart, that dedicated, that recklessly funny, any man who had as many believers as Maurice did, has something substantial to offer.
[Comment From boober74] so thought we were rebilding when is burk going to blow it up havent heard much from the new gm,
Boob: How many trades has anyone pulled off this season. Nothing will happen until the deadline.
[Comment From Sean] Hey Mike, great blogs. Just wondering if you think there's a reason why two teams averaging less than 3 goals a game have consistently had high scoring affairs? Do you think we same thing tonight?
Great question. No real idea. They've scored 29 goals in three games. Both teams have some scoring. The Leafs are 27th in the league in goals against. The Hurricanes are two spots higher. Bad defence makes for fun nights for the goal judge.
[Comment From Han] Do you think that the leafs would be better or worse with a captain?
The letter is a piece of cloth. What matters is whether you have the right guy at the right time for the right team. Clearly, there is no real candidate right now.
[Comment From Gord] Is Van Ryan playin tonight
No. I was surprised there was talk of a return. If it were me, I would end for a return after the all-star break.
[Comment From Jared] What do you think is the most important thing that the leafs have to improve on in order to get into the playoff race?
Well, that question is problematic. Certainly, the one area they want to improve on is goals against. You can't be a consistent winner without playing yourself into the top half of the league in goals against. As for the playoffs, they are nine points out. The most important thing for them is improved play from their young players, the Schenns, Tlustys and Stralmans.
[Comment From Serena] Hi Mike. Should the Leafs give Pogge a decent chance in the NHL this season or wait until the next one?
I would wait. He is very athletic, very willing but very green. As goalie equipment shrinks, bigger goalies like Pogge will be an even bigger commodities. He might not even be ready at the end this season.
[Comment From Han] I've been hearing rumors about Kaberle + Antropov to Chicago. Are these true in anyway?
No idea. Who is supposed to be coming back?
[Comment From A Leafs Fan in Montreal] Who do you think is the best defensive pair for the Leafs right now?
Well, they don't really have a set pairing short of Schenn and White. They would get my vote but I like Finger who is hurt. I also think Jonas Frogren will develop into a very dependable NHLer. He reminds me of Anton Volchenkov.
[Comment From mark] Mike have you heard of any trades?
No but general managers don't call me to bounce these things off me. If you want rumors, this is the medium to find them. If you want the straight goods, that's rarer still.
[Comment From Han] About the Kaberle + Antro to Chi, the names that come up are Versteeg and Sharp.
I'm guessing the Blackhawks aren't parting with a 13-goal rookie and a 21-goal scorer in Sharp for two players whose contracts expire at the end of this season and next. Ask yourself, if you were Dale Tallon, would you do this?
[Comment From Guest] Hi Mr Ulmer. DO you belive that Pogge is overated due to the world juniors?
Well, I don't know. Here are the goalies chosen before Justin Pogge in the 2004 entry draft: Al Mondoya (NYR), Devan Dubnyk (Edm.), Marek Schwarz (St.L), Cory Schneider (Van.), Derek Shantz (Fla.), Justin Peters (Car.), Jeff Glass (Ottawa). How do you like Pogge now?
[Comment From Han] Another trade I've heard is Blake for Avery and a draft pick.
Where are you getting this stuff?
[Comment From Serena] What kind of player will Burke look for at the trade deadline?
Well, he wants size and toughness. He's heading to the Home Depot with an empty cart. He needs pretty well everything although I think he has hit top four defencemen with the guys he has now.
[Comment From Jerome] Do you think Grabovski or Kulemin, or any other leaf, has a chance of being a 50-goal-scorer type player in the future?
No. The Leafs would be delighted if either guy got 30. I think that's where Grabovski will settle in. I see Kulemin scoring in the low twenties but he will more than pull his weight with his defensive play and strong skating.
[Comment From Eric] Am I a bad Leaf fan for wanting to see them lose? I don''t know about you, but I think that the thought of John Tavares in a Leaf uniform is a lot more exciting than the prospect of having another year of just missing the playoffs, or a first-round exit. Is that how you see it, too?
Well, these are ambivalent times. First, I find that what I want them to do has nothing to do with how they perform. I know, you make an emotional investment and want to cheer and you should be able to. That said, whether or not you choose to cheer is a matter between you and what dyslexics refer to as ' your doG.' Remember, it's a lottery so finishing last guarantees nothing and I don't think the Islanders will win again in our lifetime so you might want to rethink the whole Tavares thing. Funny things do happen in a lottery, though, so hope. That's it. I want you to hope. Yeah, hope. I hope that helps. Hope.
Well, Kaberle hasn't had the best year but Schenn's selection makes perfect sense.
I should tell you that I have dealt with these charming questions while watching the Leafs-Carolina game. The idea was take a question, jump back into the game, take a question...However the game is 0-0 with six minutes left in the second and the guy who e-mailed a question on why these teams have been scoring goals by the bucketful against each other should be ashamed of himself.
[Comment From curtis] if you were gm what would be the first thing you did
Well, the first thing I would do is call up all those jocks from high school who said that just because I couldn't catch a football or kiss a girl I was always going to be a skinny four-eyed dweeb. Yessir, they would feel my wrath. Then, you know what else I'd do? I'd cancel their season tickets. Damn right. Wouldn't even let them into the building for their stupid Iron Maiden concerts. Yep, that's absolutely the first thing I would do, after I checked out the parking spot and the coffee machine and put my feet up on the big marble desk and had all of Brian Burke's stuff sent out in plain boxes so he wouldn't even know which box had what in it. Carolina scores on a screened shot by Joe Corvo. Yeah, that's the next thing I would do. I would shout to the first minion within earshot "get me Joe Corvo or Joe Corson or whatever his name is." First thing.
Alexei Ponikarovsky turns the puck over at the Leafs blueline and the Hurricanes get the game's second goal, a Chad LaRose marker with five seconds left. As you can imagine, I will be fielding any and all questions in the third period.
[Comment From marcbo1] You've got some latent anger issues to work on
SHUT UP!!! Okay, maybe you're right.
I have given this some thought. I blame gluten.
Boy, I really like Ian White. Good skater, can play wing or defence. He's experienced but he's just 24. I think he's a valuable secondary player. Now here's the thing about secondary players, they are usually worth more to you than they are to another guy. To my mind you keep him. That said, there are only a few untouchables, Schenn, Kulemin, Stralman, Grabovski and Tlusty. Everybody but those guys are in play.
[Comment From Kenzie] We need Jeremy Williams back!! When is he coming back?
Sometime after the all-star break. Yes, they could use his snippage.
[Comment From Rob] Hey Mike, do you think Antropov is a player the Leafs need to consider locking up long-term?
Interesting question. He is obviously one of their better offensive players. After all those injuries he has become an extremely durable player who would be welcome on pretty well any team. NIk is just 28. He sincerely loves being a Canadian and living in Toronto. Nik is a Canadian citizen. He wants to stay. This could be one of those things where the Leafs trade him with the hope of resigning him in the off-season. He is a top-six forward and those are in short supply on this roster.
[Comment From Guest] Pogge is not an untouchable?
Hey, great point. I tend to not list him when going through the roster of untouchables but he retains, as I mentioned earlier, a terrific upside. The Leafs have a lot invested in him. I think it would take a lot to pry him out of here and that seems unlikely to happen since he hasn't really done all that much yet.
[Comment From marcbo1] I totally agree with your comments regarding Ian White. Solid player - and also does a decent interview. He doesn't provide stock answers but will try to answer the question honestly..
An honest guy and an honest hockey player. Didn't make a fuss when he was scratched early in the season. Low maintenance, consistent return.
[Comment From Jeremy] If Pogge isn't ready by next year who will fill the backup position for the leafs?
Honestly, is that the best thing you have to worry about?
[Comment From Jerome] Do you think Luke Schenn will be captain one day?
Yes. I think he will be the team's next captain. I think they will give him a letter next season and if he continues at his present pace, the C the following year.
Yeah, I think you are right. But I think he will be a guy who maxes out on half a dozen goals a year and hits the mid to high 20s in points. He is concentrating on what is important. The rest will come.
This is Matt's best season. He's certainly an NHL player. The Leafs are surely not interested in the names you mentioned. I think I like Matt and Dom further down the lineup.
[Comment From Eric] Sorry to be rude, but it appears that you are sometimes forgetting to post the question that was asked.
Eric, you're not being rude. Some of the questions have been asked in one form or another over the last couple of hours. Thank-you for being so thoughtful and polite.
[Comment From Buzzsaw] What kind of return do you feel Toskala would have at this point if traded? Last year he looked like a world-beater. This year he looks...disinterested at times.
Well, Buzz. Statistically he is having one of the worst seasons in the NHL. He hasn't stolen many games this season and there aren't too many teams crying out for goalies with mediocre stats. I think we are going to see a lot of him.
[Comment From Rob] Hey Mike, great blogs, this was a great idea. To follow up from Buzzsaw,do you think giving Justin Pogge another little stint with the Leafs with help them in the long run? Buzzsaw is pretty much right about Toskala, he hasn't been having....much of a great season. I think Pogge might bring some life to the team seeing as how he is another young player.
Very reasonable point, Rob. I just don't think they think he is ready and the worst thing you can do is bring him up to be shelled on a bad team that is way, way out of the playoffs. Losing grinds a team down and a young goaltender shouldn't have to be subjected to that too soon. Anyway, Leaf fans, another engaging evening. Thanks for your questions.
One final note, Leafs lose 2-0. They've garnered only seven of the last 20 possible points over their last 10 games. It's getting rough.