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Ritter's Rant: Is Toronto Maple Leafs Defenseman Luke Schenn Back???

Mark RitterSenior Writer IDecember 11, 2009

TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 07:  Luke Schenn #2 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Detroit Red Wings at the Air Canada Centre on November 7, 2009 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Bridgestone Winter Classic is just 21 days away. It was announced earlier this week that the NHL would be broadcasting a live feed of the set up from Boston’s historic Fenway Park. Guess those union workers will have to take it easy on the coffee breaks, huh?

The transformation is sure to be incredible, check back on the progress from time to time, each and every one of these events are special and as hockey fans, we should all support it in any way we can.

The Philadelphia Flyers once owned one of the top five offense’s in the entire NHL. Now, marred in one of the teams’ worst slumps (the Flyers are 2-8-0 in their past 10 games), the Flyers have slipped all the way down to 12th overall.

The sputtering offense is a key reason for the Flyers’ woes, but of a bigger concern is their penalty kill which ranks 21st overall. Simply put, that’s not good enough.

There has been a lot of debate as to which goaltender is better, Martin Brodeur or Terry Sawchuck. The fact is, it is very tough to compare players through different era’s, especially when many NHL fans never watched Sawchuck play a single minute of hockey. Given the strength of the League’s shooters, I’d have to give Brodeur the nod, defensive system or not.

I can’t say who the guest will be, but if you want an NHL Hall Of Fame member’s opinion, one that both played against and with the great Sawchuck, you’ll have to tune into Get The Puck Out next Saturday, December 19th between 6:00 and 7:00pm. The Podcast will be broadcast LIVE from Toronto and can be viewed at www.morencysports.com . The call-in number for the show is 1-866-964-5710, don’t miss it, Puckheads!

Also, this Saturday December 12t , from 6:00-7:00pm, Louis Pisano (a fellow Bleacher Report FC), and I will be throwing down our inaugural Podcast. “Get The Puck Out”, it will be broadcast LIVE in studio from Toronto and will feature Gabe Morency (formally of The Score) and a mystery guest from the Bleacher Report (HINT: GO HAWKS!!!) community. Be sure to call in and let your opinion’s be known, it’s gonna be off the hook!

At 39 years old, having played 1,433 NHL games, scoring 445 goals and posting 1,173 points along the way, the Carolina Hurricanes Rod Brind’Amour has nothing left to prove and in my humble opinion, should retire. His plus/minus rating of minus -19 (dead last amongst all NHL players) is appalling and given the fact his plus/minus was no better last season (he finished the season at -23), it would appear as if it is time for “The bod” to hang up his skates.

Speaking of players that should hang ‘em up, how do you figure former Detroit Red Wings defenseman Chris Chelios is enjoying his time with the Chicago Blackhawks AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves. Well, through 17 games, Chelios has amassed 2 goals and 10 points. His plus/minus rating of +9 is second on the Wolves and by all accounts, Chelios is ready to contribute at the NHL level once again. Question is, which team will give him a shot?

Team Canada will have it’s hands full once again when they get set to compete at the IIHF World Under-20 Championship in Saskatchewan. The mind-boggling reality is that Canada has won five World Juniors in a row, yet despite their success, the pressure is always on this collection of youngsters to bring home the Gold.

Missing from this year's team will be Brampton Battalian Centre, Cody Hodgson, who will miss the tournament with a back injury. Hodgson, who was supposed to lead the Canadians, will be a tough player to replace.

Hodgson’s absence serves as a huge opportunity for Toronto Maple Leafs first round draft choice (7th overall 2009), Nazem Kadri to step up and make up for an otherwise unimpressive season with the OHL’s London Knights.

Kadri, who was left off of last years team, has registered 20 goals and 36 points in 27 games with the Knights, good enough for 18th overall in the OHL. Kadri's slow start was a big reason for his low point totals, but his recent play has been encouraging and may have earned him a look as Canada’s number one Centre. It is time to step up Mr. Kadri - Good luck to you, your country needs you.

Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Luke Schenn appears to be turning his season around. In his past 10 games, Schenn has been a plus player seven times and by all accounts, seems to be playing with renewed confidence and vigor. It’s no coincidence that Schenn’s improved play coincides with the Leafs hottest streak of the season, going 6-3-1 in their past 10 games.

Schenn’s strong play will go a long way in determining the Leafs chances of making the playoffs, which is a lot of pressure for a 20 year-old. The reality is, the Leafs have until the Olympic break to get within striking distance of a playoff spot, failure to do so will result in the team missing the playoffs for the fifth year in a row.

In order for the Leafs to get into the playoffs, I figure they need to get a minimum of 92 points. That means the Leafs are going to have to earn a total of 65 points in 54 games, a tall order for any NHL team, never mind the inconsistent Maple Leafs.

While I am always one to try to remain optimistic, my advice to the Leafs roster is to get those golf clubs ready, you’re gonna need them come April 11th , the day after the Leafs play their last game.

Until next time,

Peace!

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