Toronto Maple Leafs' Shut-Down Back End Will Pay Dividends

Louis PisanoAnalyst INovember 3, 2010

BUFFALO, NY - SEPTEMBER 25: Fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs wave a Maple Leaf flag while playing the Buffalo Sabres  at HSBC Arena on September 25, 2010 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

Yes, everyone was excited about the Leafs with a 4-0-0 start and now the rumblings have begun after a 1-5-1 stint.

No, the Leafs haven’t been scoring at anything more than a tortoise’s pace but remember, my friends, the tortoise won the race.

Washington last year was certainly the hare and look what happened to them.

Yes, the Leafs need some goal scoring and I’m sure that is on its way in the near future.

In a year the youth down on the farm with the Marlies, including Nazem Kadri who in eight games has four goals and four assists, Brayden Irwin and Jerry D’Amigo will have matured and will be future contributors.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, though all of us in Leafs Nation wish it were.

What Leafs Nation should really be looking at and admiring and taking pride in is their defense and goal tending.

I believe the saying "defense wins championship," applicable on the football field (Pittsburgh Steelers), soccer pitch (Italy World Cup), baseball diamond (San Francisco Giants Monday!) and basketball court (Boston Celtics), is also applicable on the ice in the NHL.

It’s fairly apparent that Brian Burke has been building this team along the same philosophy, granted all those teams had players that could score and Brian Burke will add this aspect to the team.

One piece of the puzzle is here and that’s obviously Phil Kessel. Is another piece Kris Versteeg?

He hasn’t looked the part yet but his talent is undeniable and he will shine in time once he ends up with the right mix of line mates.

Dion Phaneuf will fit into his role as captain and work in the shoes that have to be filled while carrying that title. So far, he has looked good in them.

After sliding into the boards, Dion Phaneuf had his leg jammed between them and Ottawa player Peter Regin. He was then helped off the ice and to the dressing room.

He was taken to the hospital with a laceration to the back of his left leg caused by Regin’s skate.

Fear not, because Phaneuf will return with more of a sneer than ever!

Luke Schenn, who came in as an 18-year-old, continues to grow and play with confidence and poise while seeing the ice better, and the game is slowing down for him now as his comfort level grows.

Jonas Gustavsson, with the counseling of Francois Allaire and Jean-Sebastien Giguere, is growing in leaps and bounds.

Giguere, who may have played himself into the future look of the Leafs, has been great thus far between the pipes and in the mentoring role.

Tomas Kaberle, who has said on more than one occasion that Toronto is his home, has been shooting while still making great passes and smart decisions with the puck and thankfully hasn’t been traded. Whether that is on the horizon is still up in the air.

I’ve heard rumblings about Mike Komisarek and Francios Beauchemin’s play and obviously young Carl "Uzi" Gunnarsson’s play has dropped but he should regain form.

Brent Lebda, another smart addition by Brian Burke, has only been in a few games and said jokingly before his first game while the Leafs were still undefeated that he hoped he wouldn’t be a curse.

Though the Buds have had problems since he came into the lineup he’s still a good addition. He has played well, showing an apt for carrying the puck through the neutral zone and he has good vision up ice.

Toronto has the second best shots against in the league and have out-shot the majority of the teams they are losing to, this again tells us the defense is doing a great job.

As Brian Burke continues to mold this team Leafs Nation has to have patience, certainly a trait we have been forced to accept but this time there is light at the end of the tunnel.