Toronto Maple Leafs News & Notes: January 28, 2014

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Maple Leafs play the Tampa Bay Lightning for the first time this season tonight. The Lightning have continued to play great hockey even with Steven Stamkos out since November 11 with a broken leg.

If the playoffs started today, the Leafs would play the Lightning in the first round. Tonight should be a great test for the Leafs to see if they can hang with one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.

Stamkos was predictably the centre of attention during the morning skate. Plenty of writers tweeted his comments when he spoke to the media, as the entire country of Canada is waiting with bated breath to see if he’ll be well enough to suit up for his country at the Sochi Olympics starting February 13.

The latest news is Stamkos’ leg is feeling “a lot better” these days. He would like to play in at least one game for the Lightning before the Olympics if possible, but that doesn’t necessarily need to happen for him to be eligible to play.

Dion Phaneuf’s possession and scoring numbers have improved dramatically over the last eight games. James Mirtle has more on why a shift in coaching strategy and the addition of Tim Gleason has helped the offensively inclined Phaneuf take off.

Former NHLer (and Rocket Richard Trophy winner) Jonathan Cheechoo is a family friend, so we follow his career pretty closely. As you may know, Cheechoo signed with the KHL team Medvescak in Zagreb, Croatia before this season. J.P. Nikota was in Zagreb to take in a game and shares his experience.

Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Connor Brown is currently tearing up the OHL. He hit the 100-point mark last night and has only played 48 games. The big question will be whether or not the 20-year-old can translate his scoring to the NHL, but he’s definitely got everybody’s attention now.

New Jersey Devils’ goaltender Martin Brodeur had a rough outing in Saturday’s outdoor game against the New York Rangers, which was really a microcosm of a rough few years for the 41-year-old legend. Ryan Lambert thinks that giving starts to Brodeur instead of Cory Schneider out of misguided sentimentality will end up costing the Devils a playoff spot.

Topics: Dion Phaneuf, Martin Brodeur, Steven Stamkos, Tim Gleason, Toronto Maple Leafs

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