before Arturs Kulda netted
BOSTON – Joffrey Lupul knows this could be it. Asics Baratas Chinas . That something is bound to change if this Maple Leafs team doesnt do something in the New Year to alter the bad taste of continued failure. That something has to change without some sign of growth from an organization with eight playoff misses in the past nine seasons. If youre not having success and youre not showing that growth, theres going to be changes, Lupul said from the bowels of Northeastern University on Wednesday morning. And we know that; whether its me or Bozie or Phil or Dion or Naz or Clarkie, weve got to be better and weve got to show ourselves and coaches and management that this team is growing and theres been times we have and times we havent. The now 31-year-old forward is envious of what teams like Chicago, L.A., Boston and Pittsburgh have built, hockey clubs that are capable of contending and even winning the Cup nearly every year. He hopes the Leafs are moving toward such a class, that their future involves something more than constant elimination from the postseason. But he also knows that time is likely drawing short, that change will come soon with more of the same. Brendan Shanahan, Lupul knows, is unlikely to wait around and witness more of the same, especially after the various meltdowns of recent seasons. I know people hate to hear it, but it takes time, said Lupul, forced to leave an eventual victory Wednesday night with a lower-body injury. When I got here three years ago, I saw the roster and there was not a chance we were going to win the Stanley Cup. I see our roster now and its a lot of good players that have grown a lot and young players who have a ton of potential that are just starting to scratch the surface. So I think that parts exciting, but to sum it up, yeah we have to show growth. It has to happen soon. The trouble is that many of the same problems that existed nearly four years ago – when Lupul first joined the Leafs from Anaheim – still linger today, albeit with a different coaching staff and different (and generally) improved roster. Core pieces of the team – Lupul, Phil Kessel, Tyler Bozak, Dion Phaneuf among them – have remained the same though and thats whats troubling. Toronto continues to be a scoring machine that cant keep the puck out of its own net, such troubles progressively getting worse again this season. And thats not growth, at least not in the sense of a team. Which is where change will ultimately enter the picture, barring some drastic improvement in the coming months (and perhaps even with it). Shanahan and the Leafs revamped management group will have to closely scrutinize the likes of Lupul, Kessel and Phaneuf, determining why it hasnt worked and then whats to be done about it. Shanahan didnt touch those core players one bit last summer, even after a nosedive out of a playoff spot. He appeared willing to let the group try it again, inclined perhaps to see how the team worked up close as president. Would he be willing to sit tight again? Unlikely, it would seem. Lupul, for his part, believes youth has a large role to play in determining which direction the Leafs turn. The Blackhawks and Kings, he notes, thrived when their young players rose to the forefront. That argument fails, however, to account for the quality of top-end talent those clubs boast and their ability to accept, embrace and thrive under a style conducive to team success. Regardless, Lupul – who went to the Conference Finals with the Ducks and Flyers – believes this is a group capable of getting to such a point down the line. He was there when the club came oh so close to upending the Bruins here in Boston nearly two years earlier. I dont think at this time last year someone would look at the New York Rangers and say thats a team that can be one or two wins away from a Stanley Cup, he said. They just improved as the year went on and came together at the right time. Were a young group, but that being said, youve got to grow every year. And I think its on us to show that were growing and learning from mistakes; young players are getting better, older players are becoming better leaders. I think thats how well be judged ultimately. Ultimately, the goal is to win the Stanley Cup, Lupul continued, but right now the goal is to show improvement every year, every day and get into that class where were at least talked about with the Pittsburghs and Chicagos and these teams every year at the start of the year [where] theyre saying these guys can win the Cup. Five Points 1. Needed Victory Losing five of the previous six, the Leafs got a victory they needed in Boston. Structured, sturdy and engaged, they managed to play an effective game for the better part of two periods against the Bruins before hanging on dangerously in the third and overtime after blowing another two-goal lead. Wednesday marked just the 10th time in 38 games that Toronto has held an opponent under 30 shots, the Bruins testing a returning Jonathan Bernier 28 times. We needed it, thats for sure, head coach Randy Carlyle said of the 4-3 shootout win. The one thing that weve tried to preach to our group [is] that there has to be a stop sign in what was happening. We were playing too loose. We cant continue to play no-touch hockey and thats what we felt we were playing. The Leafs outshot and outplayed the home side for a good chunk of the night but were under siege in the final 25 minutes. They managed just two shots in the third period and none in overtime. Nazem Kadri ended it in the shootout, however, beating Tuukka Rask five-hole. Its not an ideal way to win the game Ill tell you that, but the bottom line is, we found a way to win it in a shootout, said Phaneuf afterward. I thought that we played real structured and we did a lot of the things that we knew that we were capable of doing. 2. Slump Busted Phil Kessel didnt think he was slumping, but broke a season-long six-game goal drought against his old team anyways. With a multitude of chances previously in the game, Kessel finally came through on a power play in the middle period, beating Rask from his usual spot on the half-wall. It was just the second game in the past 10 that the 27-year-old had scored and his 18th this season. Interestingly enough, it was his third goal in the past two games versus the Bruins. Kessel had scored just three times in the first 27 meetings against the team that picked him fifth overall in 2006. I dont know if Im really slumping, said Kessel before the game. Im getting chances. Im just kind of cold right now. Im just not putting them in. Im missing by a little bit. Theyll come eventually. As his custom when the Leafs play the Bruins, Carlyle worked like heck to get Kessel away from former teammate Zdeno Chara. Both at the teams morning skate and during the pre-game warmup, Carlyle paired Kessel with usual linemates Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk before working him onto different lines throughout the night. Struggling with the breakaway recently, Kessel had three of some kind on this night. He was stopped on the first by Rask, but hooked in the process by Chara. Awarded a subsequent penalty shot, Kessel was turned down again when he attempted a backhand on Rask. Then just before finally scoring, Kessel picked the puck from Torey Krug in the Boston zone and was stoned there, too. I used to be good at them, he said of breakaways earlier in the day, I dont know what the hell happened. I used to be able to score on them, but lately Ive been cold as ice. 3. Offensive Zone Of all 30 NHL teams, the Leafs have the lowest percentage of faceoffs taken in the offensive zone. And thats part of the problem toward the club giving up piles and piles of shots. The biggest reason why weve been giving up so many shots is the amount of time that weve spent in our D-zone, Phaneuf said Wednesday morning. Its our job as [defencemen] to get our forwards the puck to move out of the zone and possess the puck and when were not doing that, we get hemmed in and we give up shots. We want to spend time in their zone because when were down in their zone, were spending less time in our zone and thats obviously a key to success. Its not all about what were doing in our zone. Its how we get out of our zone and how we possess the puck. 4. Offensive Zone II Prior to returning from the flu, Bernier observed that his team could benefit from spending more time cycling pucks down low in the offensive zone. Thats counter, however, to the manner in which the Leafs typically get their No. 1 ranked offence. Weve had success scoring and when you have success scoring, it kind of tends people to go back to their trusted method, Carlyle said. We cannot just be a rush team. We know that. Usually youll get away with it for certain periods of the hockey game, but in the end, you have to have a complete puck possession game and right now, we havent done a good enough job of that over the last little while and were looking to improve on it. The Leafs actually had good and rare success at sustaining zone time against the Bruins for the first two periods, just about even in the possession battle to that point. They even scored the first goal from Leo Komarov with pressure from Peter Holland on the forecheck. 5. Injured Players More than a month after he was first concussed by Alex Ovechkin did Leo Komarov finally return to the Leaf lineup. Komarov missed 14 games in all with the concussion, scoring his fifth this season (a new career-high) in the opening frame. Its been a tough month, said Komarov afterward. Just felt bad for a while. Lupul, meanwhile, was forced to leave the game midway through the middle frame with a lower-body injury. He got tangled up in the neutral zone with Torey Krug before the sizeable Milan Lucic fell onto him. Hobbling off the ice, he required assistance from team trainers just to make it to the dressing room. Lupul, who has already missed 12 games this season due to injury, was spotted on crutches after the game and will travel back to Toronto for an MRI on what looked to be a left leg issue. The team declared it a lower-body injury. Stats Pack 10 – Number of times this season that the Leafs have held opponents under 30 shots. 3 – Consecutive games in which the Leafs have blown a two-goal lead. 3 – Goals for Phil Kessel in his first 27 career meetings with Boston. 3 – Goals for Kessel in his past two meetings with Boston. 27% – Career scoring percentage for Nazem Kadri in the shootout. 5 – Goals for Leo Komarov this season, a new career-high. Special Teams Capsule PP: 1-2 Season: 20.6% (9th) PK: 1-2 Season: 82.7% (12th) Quote of the Night Every year, its not going to be all fun and games and smiles. Theres ups and downs in every year and right now, weve got to find a way to claw out of the rut that were in. - Dion Phaneuf, prior to Wednesdays game in Boston. Up Next The Leafs play the fourth game of a five-game trip in Minnesota on Friday night. Zapatillas Asics Baratas . - Kyle Wood and Barclay Goodrow scored second period power-play goals to provide all of the scoring for the North Bay Battalion in a 2-0 victory over the Erie Otters in Ontario Hockey League action on Thursday. Comprar Asics Baratas . Johns, N.L., to Thunder Bay, Ont., after a deal was announced to build a new $106-million "event centre" in the Lake Superior community.MINSK, Belarus -- Defending champion Sweden made the first step in its title defence with a 3-0 victory over Denmark at the ice hockey world championship on Saturday. Calgary Flames forward Mikael Backlund scored twice in the opening period when the Swedes displayed fast, well organized play that was tough for Denmark to match. "It was nice to have a few goals right away, keep the pressure off and the nerves away," Backlund said. Another Scandinavian superpower, Finland, began its campaign with an upset 3-2 loss to Latvia and Norway blanked Italy 3-0 while Germany prevailed in a shootout to beat Kazakhstan 2-1. Backlund scored his first for Sweden when defenceman Markus Lauridsen deflected his shot to the net with his skate and struck again by precisely directing Joakim Lindstroms slap shot. Detroit Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist added the third on a solo effort after intercepting a pass. "Once we got up two to nothing we stopped taking the puck to the net," Nyquist said. "We tried to make too many passes instead of shooting the puck." Latvia failed to capitalize on its second-period power plays when a total of seven Finns were in the penalty box. Finland used its only power play in that period to go 2-1 up with a goal by Petri Kontiola. Kristaps Sotnieks tied the match for Latvia -- the quarterfinalist in the Sochi Winter Olympics -- in the third before Arturs Kulda netted the winner on a power play. It was the first victorry for Latvia over Finland at the worlds. Asics Baratas Chinas Online. . Thomas Oppenheimer scored the decisive goal in the shootout to give Germany the win. Germany outshot its opponent 47-20 but Kazakhstan went ahead 1-0 after a goal from Andrei Gavrilin. The Germans answered through Matthias Plachta at the end of the first period. "I have to look at the positive," German coach Pat Cortina said. "We put the puck to the net and that is extremely important for our team." Niklas Roest opened the scoring in the first period for Norway, Morten Ask made it 2-0 midway through the game and captain Anders Bastiansen rounded off the victory on a breakaway in the third. "I tried to shoot early to surprise the goalie and it went in, so I was really happy," Bastiansen said. "We did a good job. We won and thats the most important thing." Goaltender Lars Haugen made 15 saves for the shutout, but needed help from his posts on two shots by defenceman Daniel Sullivan in the second. "We had a little difficulty in the beginning, adjusting to the speed," Italy coach Tom Pokel said. "However, as the game went on we got better and better. So it was a good game for us." Italy and Kazakhstan are both newcomers to the top division this year. Later Saturday, Canada hopes to rebound from Fridays 3-2 loss to France with a win against Slovakia, while the United States faces Switzerland a day after it routed host Belarus 6-1. ' ' '