Back in the day Toronto Maple Leafs fans did not debate the salary cap or even the depth chart and who was awaiting promotion from the farm; projecting points needed to finish in the playoff hunt was irrelevant. The opponent was the biggest concern, and then who among our team would likely score the winning goal.
The Leafs have upcoming games against Ottawa and then Carolina. Over the past three games, we witnessed the wind being taken out of the sails, with great efforts but lousy results, with one exception: the team is now firmly sitting in the basement. No one on the Marlies is lighting up the scoresheet, and neither is top-pick Nazim Kadri.
Mike Komisarek is still nursing a muscle, and Francois Beauchemin has a broken finger. We all agree Carl Gunnarsson did an admirable job alongside Luke Schenn upon being called up last week, but Phil Oreskovic deserves a shot.
Forgetting for a moment our own goaltending issues, the Sens have also been enjoying ups and downs between the pipes, and not in a glorious flip floppy Mike Palmateer kinda way. Generally, Toronto has provided the first goal to the opposition and are being outscored 23-9 in the first period this season.
So, starting against either Brian Elliott or slumping Pascal Leclaire, both Hagman and Blake need to start popping in more goals. Phil Kessel will obviously continue to inspire, and either Stajan or Mitchell will soon be assisting many more of his forthcoming goals.
Not since the glory days of Wendell Clark, has there been a Leafs player with such a quick release of an intimidating shot that finds the top corner, in addition to being a gifted skater. In the short-term, I'd be curious to see the results of a guy like Overhill or Orr sharing his line to clear some room for him.
Lately, it seems Coach Wilson has been making some mistakes, but these are calculated, some might say strategic, to provide real-life learning experiences in an NHL game environment for those young players. All teams do it, but in Toronto they play under the microscope, so I'm not jumping on the bandwagon and slicing and dicing decisions, but I think it's time to make some changes in favour of youth.
Last year the Maple Leafs enjoyed success scoring, and finished in the Top Ten in the league, and not much tinkering was required. Like you, I see exciting blips of potential night after night from Kulemin and Grabovski, and think Blake complements them... thus the KGB Line. I'd like to hear less of "shot over the net" from the announcers and more "finds the back of the net" sooner than later.
The Maple Leafs need to get 2 points from Ottawa tonight and then another 2 points from Carolina, simply, before Washington come to town on Saturday night. In order to get these points and get back on a roll, the boys up front need to start snapping in goals and stop the fancy passing plays noticed of late.
When he was a commentator Howie Meeker used to say - again and again - "keep two hands on the stick", as advice for players, and that was long before the so-called new rules were introduced - it's such simple advice and that is what the Leafs need to do (a) in order to score goals and (b) keep out of the box.
These are two issues that when solved will solve the other issue - points - and deliver the 4 points over these new two critical games... because I know we'll beat Ovie and the lads. That's a given the way this season is going.
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