Western Canada road trips take me back to my earliest days as a hockey fan, when the Leafs were the lone Canadian entry in the Norris Division and I'd have to beg my parents to let me stay up to watch them battle their Smythe Division foes. Now it feels like the Leafs play the Senators and Canadiens once a week, leaving me wanting more matchups with the Oilers, Flames and Canucks.
The Alberta games provide particularly juicy storylines. The Leafs got waxed 5-0 on home ice by the young Oilers in early December and will be looking to return the favour on Tuesday night (Sportsnet Ontario 9 p.m.). Then captain Dion Phaneuf returns to Calgary for the first time since the big trade to face the Flames. Could a loss to the Leafs seal the fate of one or more Sutter brothers?
Mirtle is attending the final practice before the road trip this morning and will have something for you this afternoon.
Until then, the links:
David Shoalts on Leaf captain Dion Phaneuf's return to Alberta.
Toronto Star columnist Damien Cox thinks we might have just witnessed the most successful eight days of Ron Wilson's coaching tenure in Toronto. Yikes.
Cox on Leaf prospects Jesse Blacker and Brad Ross trying to make Team Canada.
Puckin' Eh offers up a YouTube look at Ross's season in Portland.
Toronto Sun reporter Lance Hornby tells us the Leafs have a record of 2-7 on their past three visits to Western Canada.
Veteran goaltender J.S. Giguere suggests the Leafs could learn something from the Red Wings.
ESPN.com columnist Pierre LeBrun suggests Brad Richards has no interest in Toronto.
Chemmy at TheLeafsNation.com says the Leafs have a keeper in Greg McKegg.
In case you missed it last night, Bobby Ryan of the Anaheim Ducks scored a goal with Wild captain Mikko Koivu's stick. Puck Daddy provides the clip.