Toronto Maple Leafs 2011 Preseason: 5 Prognostications and Revelations
After three preseason games the Toronto Maple Leafs stand two up and one down. It’s probably way too early to draw any conclusions from their play so far, but forget that notion, as I am going to do it anyway.
So why not speculate?
It is high time that we dispense with the wait and see attitude in favor of screaming “Geronimo” and jumping right into my top-five observations so far this exhibition season.
5. The Leafs Have Outshot Their Opponents in Every Game
If you wanted good news right off the bat, you've got it.
The Leafs have out shot their opponents in each and every game.
In a 4-2 win over the Ottawa Senators, it was 30-26. In the 4-0 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, the Leafs still managed a 27-22 shooting advantage. Then the rubber match, a 4-2 win, saw the Leafs out shoot the Flyers once again, 25-23.
Not only did the Leafs out shoot their opponents, but they held each and every one under 30 total shots.
If that trend continues, it bodes well for a successful season, as the Leafs were consistently out shot and out-chanced last year while giving up far too many opportunities on goal.
Increasing the number of games that Toronto out shot the opposition surely will increase their chances of winning more games this year.
Plus, it’s nice to know that the Leafs could post a 2-1 record while scoring eight goals and giving up eight.
4. Kadri Will Make the Team
Nazem Kadri has made two appearances and played well both times. He hasn't registered a point, but he has been throwing his weight around with some meaty hits.
It sure looks like he has found a balance between his quickness and size.
The knock on Kadri was that he played too small and was easily pushed off the puck. That doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.
Coupled with the fact that Ron Wilson has been utilizing Kadri extensively on the Power Play, and I’ve got to figure that the kid will make the team this year.
3. Tyler Bozak Will Love Third Line Duties
Tyler Bozak is looking like he just hit the jackpot at Casinorama. Moving from the first line to the third has been a revelation.
Only Bozak and Colby Armstrong have recorded points in multiple games this year, and he is one of only five players who have recorded a multiple-point game. Armstrong has done it twice.
More importantly than just simple numbers from a few games, Bozak seems quicker to the puck and faster in transition. He is happy and free of the burden and pressures that being the first line centre brought him last year.
He looks more comfortable and relaxed then ever, and is poised to have a really big year for the Leafs.
2. Ben Scrivens Will Get a Call Up
Ben Scrivens has been the best performing goaltender in the preseason so far. I know three games doesn't mean a whole lot, but Scrivens has looked the best and James Reimer has looked the worst.
Each goalie has played the equivalent of one game—Scrivens and Jonas Gustavsson have shared duties in two games while Reimer played the other in its entirety.
In that time, Scrivens has made 23 of 24 saves for a .958 save percentage, Gustavsson is 22 of 25 for a .880 percentage and Reimer is 18 of 22 for a .818 percentage.
Again, after one game each, that doesn't mean a thing.
But what it does show is that Scrivens is competent enough to deserve a call up should one of the other two falter or go down with injury during the season.
It’s great that the Leafs have another young and capable goaltender waiting in the wings, hungry to get his shot in the NHL.
1. Colton Orr May Be the Odd Man out
Of all the players who have participated in the three Leafs exhibition games, Colton Orr has had the least amount of ice-time.
Does that mean that Ron Wilson is looking for someone else to take over his role as enforcer?
You might think so, but Mike Brown, a very likely candidate to do so, has not played at all. It's been Jay Rosehill that has logged the most time on the ice out of the three Leafs bruisers.
Honestly, I don’t think the Leafs need the likes of Orr this year. There are enough tough guys on the roster that can drop the gloves when needed and have better skill and speed.
I doubt Orr’s lowest total ice time has any significance, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he was the obvious pick for odd man out when the regular season starts.