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|VANCOUVER Cheap Air Max 90 Shoes , Nov. 1 (Xinhua) -- The Toronto Maple Leafs are in an unusual position.
After years in the wilderness and long stretches of missing the playoffs, the storied franchise was sitting atop the National Hockey League's Eastern Conference standings before the start of Thursday's play and is delighting their rabid fans, better known as "Leafs Nation", wherever the team travels.
After knocking off both the Edmonton Oilers and the Calgary Flames earlier this week, the Leafs are looking to extend their winning streak to four games with victory over the Vancouver Canucks Friday on their western Canada road swing Cheap Air Max 90 Youth , a team that haven't beaten in nearly 10 years.
"It's pretty cool when you go into a place like Edmonton or Calgary and it's 50-50 Leafs fans. It's a pretty unique feeling, I mean no other team in the league gets that everywhere," said Toronto center Joffrey Lupul following practice Friday.
"We had it in (games in) Columbus, we had it in Florida so it makes it fun. I guess that's why people either love the Leafs or hate them, but it certainly makes it fun for us and I'm sure it makes it fun for the teams we play against too."
The 30-year-old Lupul is among a handful of veteran players Cheap Air Max 90 Kids , along with star forward Phil Kessel and playmaking defenceman Dion Phaneuf, who have come to the Leafs in recent years, helping to revive a franchise that until last season hadn't made the playoffs in nine years. More notably, as one of the NHL's original-six teams, Toronto Cheap Air Max 90 Mens , a winner of 13 Stanley Cups as league champions over the years, last won in 1967, long before most of their current fans were born.
But the current group of Leafs are showing the team is on the right track. This year, they have added Mason Raymond from Vancouver and David Clarkson from New Jersey, both players who went to the final with their former teams Cheap Air Max 90 Womens , and David Bolan, a gritty forward who helped the Chicago Blackhawks capture two Stanley Cups over the last four years, including last season.
Bolan, like Clarkson a Toronto native, said he believed the young Leafs team now has the ability and talent to win any night.
"Oh for sure we do. I think as a team here I know we've got more in the tank and we can do a little bit more Cheap Air Max 90 ," he said. "But on any given night we can go out there and win any night and play against any team, so I think for us we've being doing a great job."
Much of the credit for the Leafs' return to respectability has to go to head coach Randy Carlyle. A star defenceman during his playing days, the 57-year-old Ontario native was hired by the Leafs in March 2012, replacing the fired Ron Wilson.
He quickly changed the run-and-gun offence favored by Wilson into a more defensive model that helped the Leafs advance to the playoffs last year when they were knocked out by Boston in game seven of their first-round matchup. The Leafs memorably blew a 4-1 lead with just over 10 minutes to go in regular time, losing 5-4 in overtime to the Bruins.
"We're a hockey club that has to work hard day in day out. We have our fair share of weaknesses that we'd like to improve on Nike Air Max 90 Shoes , but we've got some things that we think we can be satisfied with," said Carlyle who coached Anaheim to a Stanley Cup in 2007.
"Our special teams have been pretty good for us this year. They've allowed us to probably gain some points when otherwise we were outplayed and our goaltending has been a real strong suit. So there are things that have been happening that are positives for our group, but there's lots of work to be done in a bunch of different areas also."
After being just 10 minutes away from advancing to the next round of the playoffs last season, Lupul said it was an experience that will likely only help the Leafs this year as the team strives to secure a playoff spot again this season.
"You would hope we'd learn something. I mean that's a veteran (Boston) team with a lot of experience that beat us and obviously a game or a series isn't over until it's over," said the Alberta native. "Time will tell when we're in the playoffs next time. You hope everyone learned a lesson and I think we we're the youngest team in the league last year so every game's a learning experience Nike Air Max 90 Youth , but you would think that one (game) maybe a little more so."
Standing outside Vancouver's Rogers Arena awaiting the Leafs to come out of the building following practice, David Kelly, a self-described rabid Toronto fan clad in the team's famous blue-and-white jersey, was confident his team now had a core group of players to make the playoffs for many years to come.
"This is a young team and they're strong from the net out. Leaf fans everywhere are excited about this team and what they can accomplish," said the 20-year-old Kelly Nike Air Max 90 Kids , a Toronto transplant who has endured a lifetime of bad Toronto teams.
"I can only remember the Leafs making the playoffs about three times the whole time I was growing up. A lot of people want to see this team win."
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