Maple Leafs Have Another Battle of Ontario Looming on the Way to the Cup

Graeme BoyceCorrespondent IJanuary 2, 2009

The Leafs are slumping.  But heading towards Saturday night, we can get revved up at the thought of crunching Alfredsson, Heatley, and Spezza again.  Frankly, the Sens are slumping too, which makes this upcoming tilt all the more special.  I'm looking at it like tryouts. 

C'mon, let's make a deal, soon.  The Leafs could certainly use the services of Heatley, and while trolling I'd grab Fisher in a heartbeat too, who's not exactly having a career year, as they say.

If the Leafs had a player like Heatley, in fact, then (in the immortal words of HG Wells) we wouldn't have to play "what if" after each game.  Like, what if Poni had scored.  Or, what if Cujo made the save?  Moreover, what if White didn't get that penalty?  This doesn't take into account the fundamentals: What if the Leafs didn't get called for so many offsides or icings...?

By not taking the fundamentals into account, Leafs players are surely demonstrating a lack of focus and, worse, laziness.  They are presumably well coached and well trained.  They have ample access to Gatorade and can't blame it on "tired legs."  Oh wait, they did after the debacle against the Stars recently.

Our so-called young Leafs should be playing like champs and proving themselves to fans and management, night after night.  However, so should any player, come to think of it.

Against the other divisional slumpers, the Sabres, Coach Wilson gave an excellent opportunity to Hagman to prove his value and lead by example in handing him the job to score on a penalty shot.  But he let the puck get out of reach and was deftly poke-checked by Miller.  Hmmm, how 'bout two goalies for one?  Toskala and Cujo for Miller?

I like the play of the Leafs' vikings Hagman and Frogren.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again—they each play with heart and, dare I say it, passion.  Hopefully this attitude is rubbing off on Grabovski and Kulemin, for example.  It might be.  These two rookies are starting to gel lately.  If only they'd really start to click; you know, like Courtnall and Clark, or Vaive and Derlago.

I've mentioned Poni, but what is up with Antropov?  Does he really miss Stajan that much?  And Stempniak?  They do the "dump 'n chase" thing quite well.  Go figure, now they simply need to shoot—quickly and with authority.  And not at the forsaken pads or protector.  These guys are making it easy for Burke to line up a blockbuster trade.

Luckily other teams, in this wonderful age of parity when any team can win on any given night, are fraught with excuses as to why they might not make the playoffs this year.  I'd certainly like to know if Pomenville or Roy are on the bubble.  Maybe those two could get thrown into the upcoming goalie trade, in exchange for, say, Hollweg.