My view on the Toronto Maple Leafs after the third week of the 2010-11 NHL Season:
1. PP – Gone from top five to bottom 10? They need to change it up then, I’ve noticed the second powerplay line consistently getting better chances than the first, they are passing the puck quicker and moving their positions where the first line hasn’t.
The first line has become quite static in their powerplay, and that leads to an easy way to read and cover where the shot is coming from. The powerplay needs a mix up; it doesn’t need speed so take Versteeg off and put in Armstrong in front of the net.
This is where good ’ol Colby will be able to do what he does best and bang in some goals, moving Kaberle and Phaneuf around more and maybe even posting up Dion in front of the net for a better screen.
2. Zigomanis not playing last game made no sense, he’s been one of the hardest working players on the team, strong on faceoffs and PK, how could taking him out and putting Mitchell in change the offense that is lacking? Mitchell has never impressed anyone and so far Mike has done everything the team has asked of him.
3. Beauchemin is in the top 10 in the league in giveaways, not to mention his errors led to the first goal of the game in the past three games; his mistakes are glaring. Though Wilson likes him, he’s one of the main players who should be benched.
4. Phaneuf should be trying less to make that big hit, and try to back up his linemate and be more consistent on defence. Lead by example Dion and the team will follow. His offense will comeback, he just needs to adjust to the coverage assigned to him and maybe change his role on the powerplay.
5. Schenn. While veterans have been having a rough week, Schenner still seems to be keeping his head high. He has been moving the puck well, making well timed hits and continues to make good decisions.
6. Grabovski/Kulemin both have been working hard, setting up plays and coming back on D. Mikhail’s been stealing pucks well, as well as leading the team in plus/minus and Nikolai’s been hitting and forchecking well. Only time will tell when they will have put the puck in the back of the net.
7. Kessel/MacArthur are tied with the club lead in goals, with six. The next highest is Tim Cottage Cambridge Boy Brent with two.
Yes that is correct, and in sole position in third in total goals. Leafs need more scoring then just Phil the Thrill and CMac, from both other forwards and our high paying defense. Though the two have continued to be in the right place at the right time and have shown very accurate shots.
8. Versteeg < Bozak, yeah that’s right, but not my much. So far Kris has shown plenty of speed, energy and strong sense of defensive responsibility when needed too. But over in Chicago a player by the name of Victor Stalberg or as they call him in “The Madhouse on Madison” Speedberg, already has more goals then Versteeg, that’s while playing on the fourth line, and not getting into the lineup once.
So far with a player roughly four times the amount of Stalberg’s contract, the trade has been slanted in the favour of the Hawks. Everyone’s talking about how Tyler isn’t living up to his role on the top line, what about Versteeg, who’s been getting chance after chance to score at least three times a night, and can’t empty the puck into the net.
Bozak needs to improve as well, I do not doubt that, if he wants to stay on the top line he’s also going to have to bury his chances, but he’s more of a playmaker, and there are plenty of reasons why Kessel has six goals and Versteeg has been getting as many chances as he has.
9. Shot Blocking—The Leafs we atop the league in shot blocking after the first two weeks, and now they’ve been losing a couple of games, alot of it stems from work ethic and hustle. They need to pick up the pace again, and as well block some shots, forwards have gone back to last season and aren’t blocking enough shots, and so have a few defensemen.
10. The Maple Leafs have been lacking energy in the past two games. So far it stems from that tough Islanders loss, where the Leafs had done just about everything right. Led in every category but the most important one, the final score. With what looked like the refs and the usual ACC thief Dwayne Roloson had stolen the game from the them.
This is where the old Maple Leafs of the past season came back to haunt this team. Instead of coming right back and putting on another solid hard working effort like they had the previous five games, they came with a lack luster performance, and again last night.
Hopefully with experience they need to know these games happen and they need to just come back with a stronger game. I haven't seen the leaders or the coaching staff try to help either, this needs to change or we might be seeing more of the same.
P.S. On that note, if others dont start scoring and team keeps losing, look for Nazem Kadri to come back to the big leagues to help in offensive categories (two goals and two assists last night, if he continues this on the wing he'll be back up shortly)