Dallas a Challenge For Leafs on The Way To The Cup

Graeme BoyceCorrespondent IDecember 23, 2008

Gee, by a quirk of groin-enabled fate, there's not much to complain about.  As predicted, the Leafs thrashed the Thrashers and  Justin Pogge is indeed a welcome addition (like Jamie Sifers, Jeremy Williams and Mark Bell) who provides a decent challenge to Vesa Toskala's rein. 

Sorry to throw in Bell, but from time to time we need reminding who also might be a welcome addition.  I'd drop Nik Kulemin.  He's doing Okay, but I say why not take the chance and drop in another Marlie, like Bell. There was a moment in the pre-season where I was calling him as the captain.

Sifers is doing very well.  Andre Deveaux is not though.  He seems to be coasting, often needing to be jostled into action. Bench him. That's right—I think a judicious use of the bench is a good thing. Certainly seemed to have worked well in Leafland this year.

It's nice to see both Nik Antropov and the  Alex Poni are doing well, but I still think more is to be delivered from these two, given their price tag. Matt Stajan, however, is having a great year, and I think Lee Stempniak is coming around the corner.  Thus, I predict a great game against the Stars for Lee tonight.

Yet traditionally we don't fare well against the Stars.  It'll be a good game—the last one before the break—and one as a barometer of character, especially at this point in the season—more or less a turning point.  No matter who gets traded next month.

Perhaps a year from now we might wonder what was wrong with this current roster of MLSE product.  After all, they are winning.  I mean it might not be logically possible to improve a winning team, despite the clarion call surrounding Brian Burke and the impending changes in personnel.

The Leafs have some good trade bait, if required.  If there are going to be trades, and I'm assuming if they happen that they will improve the team, then I hope they are considered 'blockbuster' trades.  I haven't seen one in a while, so the timing might be right in the grand scheme of things.

It's nice to see Pogge wearing the 29.  Wasn't I just mentioning Palmateer the other day?  Pogge has come up at a good time.  The team is really playing well, even Jason Blake.  He could be more effective if he were simply more abrasive, but he too seems to need wakening up from time to time.

Leafs TV commentators are a lot better than CBC.  I'm enjoying four stations broadcasting The Leafs, with the other two being SportsNet and TSN—and specifically the diverse array of comments from all the personnel.  The other day we were recalling the day when each Wednesday night was The Leafs on CHCH, and whereas every Saturday saw The Leafs on CBC.

I'm looking forward to the game against Dallas—they've always been a challenge and I'm interested in seeing who'se going to step up to the plate tonight. 

Mikhail Grabovski needs a breakout game, as does John Mitchell. They've both trying hard, but not getting the lucky break.  It's a game of luck and injuries, so more of the former and less of the latter. Plus, more snapshots and less shots to the chest, and less overtime.

Finally, I'd like Ian White to get a goal tonight.  He deserves one.  Or maybe five assists and five goals...in one game.