Maple Leafs-Sabres: Core Players on the Bubble Need to Perform

Graeme BoyceCorrespondent IJanuary 1, 2009

Coach Wilson has been quite blunt in interviews regarding the players he has been given, and how they are performing, and whether they might be around next year.

As the team prepares to face the Sabres, here's a few names likely to remain as Leafs in the foreseeable future: Grabovski, Kulemin, Schenn, Moore, and Hagman. 

Antropov might remain, so might Mitchell.  Williams is simply inconsistent, according to the coach, as I'm sure most fans would agree.

Realistically, the score the other night against the Thrashers should have been 10-1.  Prior to the game the coach reinforced his early message:

Get the puck to the net—which is nothing revolutionary, especially when listening to Don Cherry speak between periods each Saturday night.

Last week I thought White was really due for a goal, and over the past few games he's been trying, delivering quite a few wicked and timely shots to the net—unfortunately directed at goalie pads and chest protectors. 

He's not in the doghouse, but it's be nice to see him get one every now and again.  I'd like to see him remain.

Stempniak and Blake have been showing some decent skills on the rush lately, and finally finishing.  But speaking of finishing, and I'm sure you'll agree, we witnessed one of the prettiest goals for a Leaf in a long time the other night—as Grabovski scooted through the defence and fed a pass back to a trailing Kulemin. 

Wow.  Nice.

I'm a bit fan of the snapshot, and over the years cringe when I see our defensemen winding up for a slapper.  I don't mind the slapshot coming in from the blueline during a power play, but while screaming down the wing doesn't make sense to me. 

But Kubina can obviously let one go, and score, every now and then with a slapshot.

Williams is injured, and up comes Tlusty, and I don't know if Deveaux has a future with the Leafs...which brings me to Cujo. 

I'm glad he got a win this season, his 450th, but his playing days are numbered.  Against the Sabres, a game he gets to start, having said that he'll need to be consistent, which is what the coach (and we fans) want from the players in order to win each game down the stretch.

Tlusty has his moments of flash.  However, I'd like to see his nose get bloodied, in a way we noticed Grabovski earlier in the season.  Tlusty seems like a floater, but he must have been doing something right on the Marlies these days to get the call-up, as opposed to either Bell or Earl.

So, I'm now going to have a few beers and watch the outdoor game with a few pals in this New Year and warm up for the real match tonight.