Leafs-Penguins Preview: Leafs to Sidestep Past the Kid on the Way to the Cup

Graeme BoyceCorrespondent IDecember 20, 2008

Here we go again...another night in Toronto and I'll be glued to the TV watching the product of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment take on Sid the Kid and a few other guys on skates.  I do miss Gill.  I miss a good goalie these days too.

I was thinking about Mike Palmateer the other day.  Well, I was thinking of Toskala actually, and then how Cujo had absolutely lost another game for the Leafs.  Yes, the debacle against the Bruins had me wondering the other day.

Tonight's game against the Penguins should be fun for us fans, as I know a few players will be looking forward to playing against a so-called superstar.  This is the point in the season when things will begin to gel for the Leafs as a team.  Then the trades will happen.

For the moment, no one is safe.  Well, that's assuming any one on the current roster actually wants to remain on the team—and it's run for The Cup.  I like to believe that this group of players, as professionals, play their best night after night—yet I also believe they can get excited, more excited, when playing against The Kid.

In an obvious nothing-to-lose scenario, I predict a great game from Moore and Blake, as well as Deveaux, who, based on the previous game's fight must now finally feel comfortable. 

These days, I'm likin' our other combos, like Grabovski and Kulemin, and Van Ryn and Finger.  If they play well, seems they stay with the team.  But if they play well, they might get traded.  But I believe they always play well.

Hopefully Van Ryn has not been concussed into early retirement, given the latest hit.

Which reminds me, Luke Schenn must be a pretty big impact player after all.  This brings Kubina and Kaberle into focus. Both would be called, on practically any other team, quite redundant in the grand scheme of rebuilding.  Unless management believes our run for the Cup this spring is not just a dream (of mine).

I liked the way the Leafs fought offensively the other night against Boston, and I was shocked at Cujo.  Surely Alan Bester is available.  It seems Pogge is destined to remain a Marlie, but a few of his teammates are playing well enough for a closer look, and I'm sure Burke is examining guys like Newbury, Ondrus, Earl, and Stapleton of course.

The Leafs will win in Pittsburgh, because they are not expected to.  It'll be close.  It won't be a rout.  But The Leafs will play inspired hockey.  Typically, I'd guarantee a win in this scenario—recalling always when Gretkzy came to town—but I just can't trust our goaltending. 

It's so disappointing to admit, and as a rabid fan, and thus stakeholder in the franchise, I can't ever remember saying that...even when The Razor was brought to town, heralded as an obvious upper deck decision by JFJ.  I'm anxious to see the changes that are coming down the pipe.

In the meantime, I'm looking forward to the current product and its performance on the ice in Pittsburgh. 

I don't want to be let down tonight, though I'd never admit the opportunity cost of not seeing the Leafs game on a Saturday (and when are the Leafs never on TV on a Saturday night?  It's been sooooo long I can't remember) is a movie or going bowling.