Custom Search

It’s time we call it the “Aulie trade”; Law of averages catches up with the Leafs

Credit to the Leafs for yet another valiant come-from-behind effort.  This one fell a bit short.  Perhaps the one-goal-game law of averages simply caught up with the blue and white.  They had been awfully successful in one-goal contests of late.

Komisarek's early match penalthy meant a suddenly undermanned defense had to share significant minutes, and for the most part the young defense handled it well.

Anyone who saw Mike Brown's beautiful rush, setting up Lupul in the third period, will remember that one for a while.  And the Leafs had opportunities to tie the game, but couldn't quite make it happen.

Reimer gave up one of those unusual bad-angle seeing-eye goals in the second but did more than enough to give his team a chance to win.  His poise continues to be a huge reason why the Leafs have been in virtually every game he has played since his most recent call-up?

The Leafs did break their power-play drought, though it took a a header from Grabbo off the Phaneuf slapper to end the slide. 

With Pronger out of the line up, the Flyers, and Boucher, did just enough to go home with a road win.

Some weeks ago, after being impressed by Keith Aulie’s steady game after game presence on the Maple Leaf blue line, I posted that, some day, we may well refer to last years blockbuster with Calgary as the “Aulie trade”. (Click to read that earlier post.)

I said that with no disrespect intended for Dion Phaneuf, the obvious centerpiece of that major swap with the then struggling Western Conference Flames.  But while Dion has often been better of late, he has generally not blown people away with his play over the past fourteen months in Toronto.  Not bad, pretty good sometimes, just not great most nights.  He plays big minutes and brings passion and the occasional big hit, so he comes fairly much as advertised.  Not as much offense as some might have expected, but that’s a hit and miss thing when you have that big booming (and often erratic) shot.

Aulie, on the other hand, well, I’m guessing most observers didn’t know a lot about him other than that he was a “big” guy when his name was announced in that deal.  But Burke looks like a very shrewd GM on this one, not just for landing Phaneuf but for giving up very little and getting not only his future captain but a young defenseman who now, in his first (not even full) season in the NHL, at 22, is playing with poise well beyond his years most nights.

And importantly, playing well beyond our expectations.

So, good for Burke on this one.  And good for Aulie.  It’s the player who has to make it work, and he has come in and showed signs of being a real player when many other guys were ahead of him on the depth chart. Against the Flyers on Thursday night at the ACC, he had a couple of tough moments, but also did some good things, including a very nice move and pass in the offensive zone that could have resulted in Leaf goal in the second period. He does little things well and has been a steady guy on the blueline.

Like most defensemen (see Luke Schenn through some of last year, Tyler Myers in Buffalo parts of this season) there may well be the inevitable steps forward and steps back in his development.  And there will be moments when, like most defensemen, he will make mistakes.  But if the Leaf coaching staff handles this properly, and they should, Aulie will be a mainstay on the blueline for years to come.

So yes, if you’d like to call it the Aulie trade, go right ahead.  I’ve been doing that already, too.

1 comment:

  1. Aulie has looked good to me as well. He and Phaneuf make a pretty strong pair. This year's experience should pay off for him as a full-timer next year.
    As for the team, it looks like pumpkin time for our Cinderella run. The next two games will determine if we have a shot at a fairy tale ending or not. I'm seeing the same old mistakes that plagued us for the first half making their unwelcome return.