Watching this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, it’s becoming increasingly clear one thing the Toronto Maple Leafs need to do to become an elite team is to develop or acquire some depth scoring. As I watch the Chicago Blackhawks or New York Rangers, I’m amazed by their ability to roll four forward lines and have everybody contribute and generate chances. The Leafs, on the other hand, played Colton Orr, Frazer McLaren and Jerred Smithson as their fourth line for a game this season. As Mike Augello of HockeyBuzz writes, if the Leafs want to improve next season, finding some guys who can contribute on the fourth line would go a long way.
Toronto Maple Leafs goaltending prospect Antoine Bibeau turned heads in front of a national TV audience posting a 51-save shutout for the Val-d’or Foreurs as they beat the host London Knights 1-0 in the opening game of the Memorial Cup on Friday night. Unfortunately, Bibeau and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champion Foreurs came back to earth with a thud as the Guelph Storm beat them 6-3 last night. But as Ed Klajman of NHL.com writes, Bibeau has a long track record of solid goaltending in the QMJHL, even if he’s often overlooked by NHL scouts.
We learned the Toronto Marlies will play in the Western Conference Final of the Calder Cup Playoffs as they swept the Chicago Wolves in four games on Friday. We learned their opponenent will be the top-seeded Texas Stars as they blew out the Grand Rapids Griffins 7-1 to take the series four games to two on Sunday. The series between the Stars and Marlies begins in Cedar Park, Texas, just north of Austin, on Friday night. Check out the full schedule over at Maple Leafs Hot Stove.
The Marlies have won every game they’ve played so far in the playoffs, sweeping the Milwaukee Admirals in three games before breaking their brooms out once again against Chicago. The Baby Leafs will probably face some challenges in their series against the Stars as it’s extremely unlikely they’ll be able to continue to score and keep pucks out of their own net at this torrid pace. Jeff Veillette of The LeafsNation has more on why we can expect the Marlies to fall back to earth a little bit.
For anyone who thinks Toronto couldn’t support a second professional hockey franchise, just remember it’s already been done before with the Toronto Toros of the World Hockey Association. Even though they eventually left town, many believe they could’ve lasted until the merger with the NHL if they had persevered through some lean times. As Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun writes, the Toros proved it’s possible to compete with the mighty Maple Leafs in Southern Ontario.