John Tavares will be a significant impact player in the years to come. He certainly was in the early days of the 2010-2011 season, though somewhat less so of late, it seems.
The number one overall draft choice last summer had a golden opportunity when he was sent in alone on Giguerre, but he went goal-less in yesterday’s tilt. The Isles had a bit more jump as the game went on, though the Leafs may have been one more goal away in the early going from seeing the game move in a totally different direction than it did in the end.
I’m guessing Tavares is tired, or fighting through injuries. He is accustomed to playing a long schedule, as a former junior player. You expect college players to find the adjustment to the pro game tough, though they are often older than the 18 or 19 year-olds who make the jump straight from junior hockey.
Whatever has slowed Tavares, the guessing here is he’ll be just fine. When you have the hockey IQ and vision he does, he’ll be good for a long time. And the Isles seem to be building with some other good young players- drafting high year after year helps. But they have a goaltending issue there, with DiPietro facing chronic injury problems and their best goalie in his 40’s.
• Kulemin is on a roll, though I would expect him to hit a dry spell at some point. I’m most impressed with his overall play, but the points don’t hurt
• Kaberle remains in a fog. Whether the fog will clear before the end of the season is anyone’s guess
• Interesting stat: the Leafs have been better, generally-speaking, since the trade for Phaneuf. But Giguerre is below .500 as a starter since he joined the club. Setting aside his two opening shutouts, he has struggled, for the most part. Is this a concern going forward?
• Here’s a prediction: As “hot” as the Bozak-Kessel-Kulemin line has been, they will be broken up next season at some point, maybe even early, as the team tries to achieve some sort of offensive balance. Whether any of those players individually can help “carry” a line, though, I’m not sure just yet
• On a good night Leaf fans see a full glass- the top line is scoring, the goaltending is strong and the youthful line-up plays hard and with an edge. On a bad night, you wonder how a team with veteran defensemen like Phaneuf, Beauchemin and Kaberle can give up so many goals (eight this weekend alone, against weak teams), and who will score next season.
• The Battle of Ontario is not what it once was, when Leaf and Senator fans actually dreamed realistically of a Stanley Cup for their respective sides. This Tuesday’s match-up will mean a lot more to the Senators than the Leafs, though we can expect a much better effort from the Leafs than they were able to muster against the Islanders.
• Just wondering: why did the NHL schedule a contest for the afternoon after a Saturday night game, when the clocks are turned ahead?