The Toronto Maple Leafs started the regular season with two back-to-back wins, jolting the many hibernating members of Leafs Nation into alertness.
Coming off a 5-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators, the Leafs' offseason training appears to be paying off. Only two games into the young season, and not a single player is in the minus—a huge change from last year.
Saturday night's victory marks the Leafs' second of the season. Last year, the second win came almost an entire month later. The Leafs are improved, but by how much?
It's only two games in; however, if the past few games have indicated anything, the Leafs' power play will improve from its current 22nd spot. The first unit of Phil Kessel, Tyler Bozak, Kris Versteeg, Dion Phaneuf, and Tomas Kaberle have been controlling the puck for much of the play. With many scoring opportunities, the Leafs only need to keep up the hard work, and the laws of probability say the puck should start going in more.
Meanwhile the Leafs sit at fifth in the league on the penalty kill, a significant improvement from 30th place last year. With three different sets of forwards for the penalty kill, general manager Brian Burke appears to have given coach Ron Wilson the right set of tools for the job.
So Leafs Nation, should we plan the parade?
Clearly, the answer is a loud: NO!
However, if the Leafs continue anywhere near this level of play, this year will be much more entertaining.
Meanwhile, the Toronto Marlies opened their season with a loss to the Rochester Americans on Saturday at Ricoh Coliseum. Nazem Kadri's game was certainly interesting recording an assist while being the recipient of a dirty knee-on-knee hit, and getting bench for a brief period in the second.
While some prospects such as Kadri and Luca Caputi are being given lots ice time, Christian Hanson and Jerry D'Amigo are being given fourth and third line duties respectively. If the reason for Hanson being sent down after a strong training camp was for him to receive top-six minutes, maybe that should be told to Marlies coach Dallas Eakins.
Once again, this is a new problem, as the Leafs have so many prospects that there is finally a competition for ice time.
It has taken two and a half years, but Brian Burke has finished his basilica. The only thing left is to do is paint the ceiling of his cathedral.
The question is:
Do the Leafs have enough talent to complete Burke's vision?
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