Custom Search

Leafs should never have lost that one; Holzer over Gunnarsson; why, exactly?

Friday night (see below the jump) I posted some thoughts about Gunnarsson being sat yet again.  I'm happy for Holzer.  The Leafs obviously feel he deserves a shot, and that's great.  One game against the struggling Sabres is not necessarily a harbinger of how Holzer will fare at this level.  But he was fine in his 13 minutes.

I just don't fully understand why Gunnarsson is on the hot seat so early in the season.  I guess the short answer must be that he is simply not playing well enough in the minds of management and the coaching staff.


A few brief comments on the loss versus the Sabres.  Buffalo does not look at all like the Sabres we have seen in most recent seasons.  For a hard-working team that is usually so well prepared by Lindy Ruff, they looked anything but for most of the first two periods.  Their game seemed off in so many different areas but some late game desperation got them into overtime.  Maybe their comeback win will catapult them forward.

For the Leafs, Grabovski scored a much-needed goal.  As I mentioned in a recent post, I'm not a big Grabovski guy, but he does lead the team in plus/minus (now +8 ).

I didn't think the Leafs were particularly sharp, but should have done enough to win in regulation time against an un-inspired Sabre squad.

Komisarek logged significant ice time again in Phaneuf's absence.  Beauchemin was on for the last-second Sabre goal but was otherwise solid in logging almost 30 minutes off ice time.

Wilson gave Mitchell a confidence boost with that shoot-out opportunity.  Mitchell responded under pressure and alsmost saved an extra point for the Leafs with a slick move when a miss would have ended the game.

But long story short, the Leafs still lost and that's a point the Leafs will never get back- and should never have given away in the first place.


It’s unfortunate how quickly coaches sometimes  lose confidence in players and players, largely as a result, in turn lose confidence in themselves.

As the 2009-’10 NHL season plodded along painfully in Leafland, one of the relatively few bright spots was the rather surprising development of young Carl Gunnarsson.  By the end of the season, Gunnarsson had gone from nice surprise to full-fledged keeper.  Being of Swedish descent, the fact that he had the smarts and calmness of a more experienced defender led to inevitable “comparisons”, if we can call it that, with Detroit’s future Hall-of-Famer Nicklas Lidstrom.

Fast forward to training camp this season, and though Gunnarsson left camp solidly (it seemed) entrenched as one of the Leafs' top-six blueliners, he was the first to get the sit-down message from Wilson when the brass wanted to get Lebda some action.

Now, even with Phaneuf out for several weeks, Gunnarsson didn’t play much on Wednesday night in Washington, and now we hear that young German-born Korbinian Holzer may step into his place Saturday night against the Sabres.

If this is an injury issue then there is no real debate—or story here.  But I’m not sure if that is the case.

Both Gunnarsson and Holzer have played in the World Championships, so they both bring international experience to the Leafs.  I’m just a bit surprised if the Leafs are already losing patience with Gunnarsson, who has only played eight games this season.

He has not been as formidable as he was toward the end of last season, whereas Schenn has really been pretty strong for the most part.  I’m hoping (another) view from the press box will help him get back to where he was.  I believe he is potentially a big part of the future Leaf defense corps and it would be a shame to see him lose valuable development time watching for a long time.  Unlike when this happened to Schenn last season, Gunnarsson (turning 24 in days) is not 19 years of age. He’s an NHL defensemen and needs to play.

I don’t know if Gunnarsson maybe didn’t arrive at camp in shape the way management wanted.  Maybe he is still battling an injury.  Or he is just, as I’ve written previously, this year’s Schenn— in the sense that he may be taking a step back, as it were, before taking the proverbial two steps forward.  (20 year-old Tyler Myers in Buffalo is experiencing his own significant growing pains so far this season, his play nowhere near what it was in his scintillating rookie season last year.)

Sooner than later the Leafs may well need Gunnarsson.  It’s a long season, and the Leafs will need a lot of depth on defense if they have serious aspirations of post-season play—and success if and when they get there.

1 comment:

  1. Gunnarsson is in he doghouse for no discernible reason other rhan they signed Lebda to more money and Lebda is American. Lebda has looked very week in his own end, but that hasn't stopped Wilson from blaming Gunnarsson.