Takin' a T/O With BT: 10 Bright Spots for the Toronto Maple Leafs
In Theoren Fleury's book Playing with Fire , Fleury goes on record saying that he would've liked playing in Toronto, except for one thing.
According to Theo, and this is very apt, the media always keys on a low-point for the team. They could have won 16-straight and there would be something to find a problem with.
So, with the team at an all-time low, why not look for a few positives? And what better time than after they've gotten out of a putrid month?
1. The Power Play
Currently, the power play for the Toronto Maple Leafs is the top-ranked in the league, which is kind of surprising as they've had a few problems scoring (14 of their 30 goals have been on the power play this year).
Whats even more impressive is that they've actually been better on the road with the man-advantage, clicking 30 percent of the time.
2. Put the Puck on Net
Granted bad shots don't get you many places in the league, but they can sometimes get you somewhere. So far, that hasn't been a problem for the Leafs.
Currently ranking 12th in the league in shots-for (395), the Leafs are at least getting pucks to the net in hopes that one day an opposing goalie has a John Gosselin-sized breakdown.
3. The Record Can't Last Forever
When out-shooting opponents, which has occurred in seven of their 11 games, the Leafs are 1-4-2.
If they keep putting the pucks on net and they eventually start going in, then the record will follow.
4. The Play of Jonas Gustavsson
It's fairly safe to say that Gustavsson is the most athletic goalie to play for the Leafs since the Felix Potvin/Curtis Joseph era.
In watching Gustavsson, he moves laterally very well, he's quick, and he's flexible—in other words—exactly what the Leafs need.
5. The Return/Arrival of Phil Kessel
Leafs' Nation is finally going to reap the rewards of their biggest offseason acquisition just over a month after the season has begun.
With a slew of final tests today, Kessel is awaiting word on whether or not his shoulder has reached playing strength. If it has, the Leafs will have another player to put the puck on net.
Hopefully he's as good as he was last year, because the sky will fall if he isn't.
Remember that girl from high school? The one you continually bothered for a date and never got it. Then when you suddenly got it, you were over the moon. Well from there it goes two ways: Either you lived happily ever after until three weeks later the girl from California transferred to your school, or the date went terribly, you blogged about it, and you sulked in disappointment over the next four years.
Either way, the wait is over and the date is at the door.
6. The Play of Tomas Kaberle
After tallying 10 assists and 12 points over the past four games and receiving the NHL's First Star of the Week award, all of the sudden Kaberle is back in the saddle after a slow start to the season and an injury-riddled campaign last year.
Granted, the 116 point pace won't be kept up for much longer, but for a defense that needs a scoring presence, Kaberle is the one to keep that going strong.
7. The Goal Scorers
Even though they've struggled to score goals as a team, the guys who are paid to do so are doing so.
With 11 combined goals, Alex Ponikarovsky and Niklas Hagman are leading the team offensively, and it's a matter of the rest of the team catching up to them.
These aren't flukes either—last year they combined for 45 goals and Hagman wasn't even healthy for the whole year.
8. Winning Faceoffs
While the Leafs aren't leading any categories in faceoffs, there is one positive:
They're currently one of just seven teams in the NHL to not feature a player in the top-30 in shorthanded faceoffs lost—a small victory for a team 25th in the league in overall faceoffs won.
9. Points are Points
I'm the first to admit that the Edmonton Oilers of 2007 proved that overtime losses and single points are no way to make the playoffs. Sure they help, but you need to win along the way.
If the Leafs can start to win though, they would have been able to get themselves a few points over the last few games.
Is it monumental? No. But it's a start.
And every great story needs a beginning.
10. Sticking It to Montreal Canadiens Fans
Three minutes and 55 seconds to go with a two-goal lead, the always-boisterous Montreal fans started bidding the Leafs adieu.
Then Alex Ponikarovsky struck.
And then? The aforementioned Kaberle.
Troublesome month or not, a moral victory is a moral victory.
Bryan Thiel is a Senior Writer and an NHL Community Leader for Bleacher Report. You can also check him out at hockey54.com—The Face of the Game . If you want to get in contact with Bryan you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his profile . Also, be sure to check out his previous work in his archives .
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