From Russia with Love: Can the Leafs' KGB Line Be a Force in 2010?

Ben DoverContributor IApril 12, 2009

TORONTO - NOVEMBER 29:   Mikhail Grabovski  #84 of the Toronto Maple Leafs carries the puck as teammate Nikolai Kulemin #41 battles in front of Martin Biron #43 of the Philadelphia Flyers along with Matt Carle #25 and Jonathon Kalinski #46 both of the Philadelphia Flyers during their NHL game at the Air Canada Centre November 29, 2008 in Toronto, Ontario.(Photo By Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

As we wind down another Maple Leafs season and we look at the past in perspective, one positive shift for Toronto in recent months has been the forward line of Alexei Ponikarovsky, Mikhail Grabovski, and Nikolai Kulemin.

Since, the trade deadline in March 2009, all three players have improved considerably in their overall production. Combined, the three have improved on average their goals by 13 percent, assists by 27 percent, points by 41 percent, power play goals by six percent.

Ponikarovsky in particular has really started to find his feet the year, almost doubling his total points from last season, being particularly successful in finding his open team mate for the score and the assist.

It seems all Ron Wilson needed was to combine the three Soviets and channel the spirit of their forefathers from 1971 of Petrov, Mikhailov and Kharlamov.

Another handy skill is that all three can communicate in their mother tongue. Something both Kulemin and Grabovski have appreciated as they try and comprehend the English language.

However, how productive has this line been?

Well, compared to another just constructed line of Crosby, Kunitz and Guerin of Pittsburgh, a line the Penguin's hope might salvage a Stanley Cup.

The Toronto line is going quite well.

Since March 2009 the Crosby line is only outscoring the KGB line by one goal, two assists, three points, one power play goal and parity within goal winning goals.

It's not all doom and gloom for the Toronto Maples Leafs and the current roster.

There are a few potentially great combinations within the team they could catapult the team into the playoffs. The KGB line is just one bright prospect of hopefully four strong lines next year.


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