I have been watching the Leafs with excitement over the past few weeks. Not just because it's a Leafs game, but because you never know what's going to happen next.
First, it was a great play from Nik Antropov and Alexei Ponikarovsky, then Nik Kulemin, and then Mikhail Grabovski and Nik Hagman.
But that was just in spurts.
Is there anybody with consistency in this club?
Aside from the always dependable Tomas Kaberle, the most consistent player, so far, has been Matt Stajan.
Ever since Ron Wilson scratched him for the game against the St.Louis Blues earlier this season, he has gotten the point.
You need to come out every game and you need to give it your all, no matter what the score is. Fortunately, he has done that so far.
Since being benched, Matt Stajan has gotten 17 points in his last 15 games, plus another 10 in his last six. He has been an amazing asset in the face-off circle, getting 50 percent or higher in all, but three games since the benching. He has also seen his ice time soar to a high of 16 minutes in every game, but two.
You have seen him play a consistent game on the first line with Antropov and Ponikarovsky; he is always moving his feet.
We are finally witnessing what the Leafs saw in him, while being drafted 51st overall in the second round of the 2001 draft.
So, the question of the night? Can he keep it up?
Since being scratched, he has played well in almost every game. However, only 15 games have passed since then.
Can we honestly say that he will be this good when the 82nd game rolls around in April?
I don't think so.
I will say, he has played extremely well lately. He's making plays while fore-checking, and playing in front of the net. He is consistently in the face of the opposition, and when he gets a hold of the puck, he can construct plays that he normally couldn't do a year ago.
But I honestly don't think he will keep it up. He will continue to play well and make plays, but not at the pace he is going at now. His talent just isn't there to sustain these numbers all season long, and I suspect a drop off, eventually later on in the season.
The one thing I am happy to say though, is that I think his responsible play on the ice will stay. I think he will elevate his game enough where he will be able to hold a second line spot and prove his worth past a third line checker. When it comes to play-making ability, he is good enough to contribute at both ends of the ice.
So what now?
What will he do next?
I think this streak will keep going 'til about the end of the month. He is flying high as of right now and is playing with more confidence than ever.
I still think he will continue his solid play, and is playing better then I have ever seen him. The way he stands in front of the net reminds me of a young Shayne Corson. He is always willing to go after that puck, no matter who he has to face to get it.
For the first time, I can see Matt Stajan being on this team as an integral part of the Toronto Maple Leafs' future.
Good job Matt Stajan. I couldn't be happier for your success.
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