Toronto Maple Leafs: Exactly Who We Thought They Were or Not?

Louis PisanoAnalyst INovember 1, 2010

TORONTO - OCTOBER 26: Dion Phaneuf #3 and Phil Kessel #81 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrate win against the Florida Panthers during game action at the Air Canada Centre October 26, 2010 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
Abelimages/Getty Images

After a blazing start and a lot of excitement in Toronto, the Maple Leafs have dropped consecutive games a couple times and are looking somewhat inept offensively.

We were all caught up in the hopeful start, but now that things have cooled down, trade talks have become a heated topic again. Tomas Kaberle and other defensemen’s names are being thrown around, as Toronto is pretty stacked on the backend.

How Toronto solves their scoring woes isn’t a new question.

Even before the preseason, Leafs Nation was wondering where the offense would come from.

They were hoping offseason acquisitions Kris Versteeg, Clarke MacArthur and Colby Armstrong and mainstays Nikolai Kulemin and Mikhail Grabovski would chip in; aside from MacArthur, none of the above is really fulfilling any hopes.

Phil Kessel has been a workhorse, as expected. But as teams realize he is the only true scoring threat, they will force his hand at every turn, leaving the aforementioned underachievers and the defense corps to bear the brunt of the offense.

Teams around the league have also seen head coach Ron Wilson’s seemingly single-minded power play philosophy of getting pucks to the point and getting shots from the backend on net and trying to bang in rebounds.

Granted, it’s not a bad plan, and it's used effectively by many teams, but they have other power play sets and points of attack and for the defense to hit the net with the puck, a key point, you have to hit the net.

A constant for the Leafs is the high energy level they bring, night in and night out, which gives them a chance to win every game.

The Buds defense, led by captain Dion Phaneuf, and penalty killing have been steady, as have the goaltending performances from J.S. Giguere and Jonas Gustavsson.

There are certainly positives for this Toronto team that will claw through the season. They still have a shot at a playoff spot in a topsy-turvy Eastern Conference that defines the word parody, as seemingly anyone can win on any given night.

As the young players mature down on the farm, the goal of this team is to make it tough for anyone to get points against them, stay out of the basement and try to sneak into the playoffs.

I still believe that the Leafs, with a few bounces going their way, can get into the postseason and beat any team, as long as their strong work ethic continues.

Obviously, general manager Brian Burke is still looking to add pieces to the developing picture of what the Toronto Maple Leafs should look like in his mind.

Whether it’s the same picture Leafs Nation has in mind is another question.

All in all, the product on the ice, though again lacking offense at the moment, still has many upsides for us blue and white faithful. As I continue to bleed blue and white, I will continue having faith in what Mr. Burke is doing.

As for Wilson, who I have really never been an advocate of, I continue watching with optimism even though I increasingly doubt whether he has "the right stuff" for this team.

Toronto is more or less who we thought they would be. Though we were treated to some early, unexpected success, this team will continue its roller-coaster ride of a season to hopefully end with a degree of success acceptable for a team in a building process.

The Leafs have a good chance Tuesday night at home in the ACC to get back to their earlier winning ways against an Ottawa team they have notoriously owned.

GO Leafs GO!