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Leafs “lose”, but gain a point; Gunnarsson this year’s Schenn?

Much to like about the Leafs again Monday night, as they summoned their will to score late and earn a point, before an overtime penalty (on a drive to the net; can’t fault him for trying to make a play) given to Lebda.

Schenn continues to play hard and mostly well.  Phaneuf (26+ minutes) was all over the place, creating offense, especially later in the game.  Kaberle has been and was again against the Islanders his smooth as silk self in holding the puck, being calm and making plays.  Kessel’s quick shot gave the Leafs a well-deserved tie late in the game.

The Leafs again carried much of the play as the game went on.  And it was tremendous to see the ACC making noice in the third period and overtime.  If the Leafs wanted to bring back entertaining hockey, we can’t say they haven’t at least provided that in the early going.           

Who predicted this?

I still would love to see the end of overtime.  Regular readers will know I've touched on this a couple of times before.  A game ends in a tie, let it end in a tie.  Yes, overtime and four-on-four can be exciting, but for me, we still are giving away too many extra points, which really messes up the "real" standings, obviously.

In "my" standings, the Leafs are three wins, two ties, for 8 points.


The Oilers didn’t think Roloson was worthy of a three-year contract, and went in another direction before the 2009-’10 season.

He stoned the Leafs again last night.  Now 41, he has had a remarkable career—especially for a goalie that played as a back-up for the Sabres in (and started Game 1, right?) the 1998 semi-finals against the Leafs.  He’s come a long, long way since then.  Some outstanding playoff performances and he has certainly played some tremendous games against the Leafs.

We all well recall that, as last season moved along, there was concern, shall we say, about the play of then 19 year-old sophomore defenseman Luke Schenn.

I was among those who felt that Schenn would have benefited from some time with the Marlies, after having been rushed perhaps too soon to the big club the season prior.

In any event, Schenn seemed to largely stabilize his game as last season went along.  Whether he would in fact have progressed even more had he spent time with the Marlies, we will never know.

Schenn has started this season with confidence, and continues to show he may indeed play a prominent role on the Leaf blueline for years to come.

At the same time last season, young (but not as young as Schenn) Carl Gunnarsson slowly but surely played his way quietly into the hearts of Leaf fans –not to mention Ron Wilson’s blueline.  By the end of the season, he was spoken of in some quarters as having the poise to perhaps play some day like, dare we say it, longtime Red Wing superstar Nicklas Lidstrom.

A few months later, Gunnarsson, while hardly playing “poorly”, has not come out of the gate as well as Leaf fans, or Wilson, were anticipating.

So, despite four wins in a row to start the season, he was the first guy of all those who started the regular season (in Game one) to face the temporary guillotine as a “healthy scratch”.  This gave ex-Wing Brett Ledba his shot Monday night.

What is important about this is that the Leafs now have the blueline depth to bring in someone like Lebda, who has helped the Wings win a Stanley Cup.

Should we be worried about Gunnarsson?  I’m guessing no.  He was a solid performer for Sweden at the World Championships.  But he is easier to sit than a veteran, and it sends a little message that he is capable of more—and is expected to show more.

Long term, Gunnarsson may indeed be very important to the Leafs' future.  For now, he gets to sit, step back, and come back even better than before.


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