Custom Search

Early on: Good signs outweigh the bad

It’s evident early on that the Leafs are showing way more positives in their game than negatives.

What are some of these positives, overall and in Wednesday night's game?
  •  Speed.  They look—and are—simply a faster team overall this season than last.
  • An early road win against a good team.  Pittsburgh clearly have not hit their stride, just as Montreal and Ottawa had not when they met the Leafs.  But Toronto was part of why those teams did not look good.
  • The Leafs have two goalies who can win games
  • The “fourth” line scored two goals.  How often does that happen?
  • The effort Brown is displaying.
  • Zigomanis beat Crosby on the draw that created the Leafs' third goal
  • I did not expect major offensive production from MacArthur.  It’s not fair to expect this to continue, but he is certainly contributing early.
  • Schenn playing significant minutes, and largely well.
  • Kaberle looking more like he did in his “hey-day” under Quinn.
  • Beauchemin looking more like himself, too.  (He did a great job on Crosby one-on-one late in the game.)
  • They are harder on the puck and harder (so far) to play against.
  • Wilson sat Kessel after some turnovers.  That sends a needed sign to everyone else.  If your young, highly-paid star sits, other guys will take note.
  • Lebda, who is an experienced NHL defenseman, has not even seen the ice.  He provides quality depth as a 7th defenseman.
  • Not allowing the Penguins to take control early in the third period, when one would have assumed they would come out strong.
  • Kulemin came back hard to stay with his man on a Pens scoring chance in the third period.
  • Guys blocked shots with the game on the line.
  • Some timely saves by Gustavsson late in the game. 
I’m not sure there are many “negatives”—yet.   You never like to give up a goal in the last minute of a period, and the Leafs gave one up at the end of the second period.

Kessel needs to play well all over the ice, not just in the offensive zone.  I mentioned often last season that, for me, Kessel will, over time, need to develop like an Yzerman or Modano did.  That is, like other elite offensive players who became outstanding all-around players to help take their team to the championship level.  But Kessel is very young.  Modano and Yzerman did not become those kinds of all-around contributors until much later in their careers.

I don’t know how long the Leafs will thrive with their current centers, but right now Bozak, Grabovski, Brent and Zigomanis  are doing their jobs awfully well.

Twenty games in should tell us a lot more.         

No comments:

Post a Comment