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I’ll say it again: in the East, the Leafs can make the playoffs

I’m not suggesting it is vital, or that it will necessarily “mean” anything for the future, but I remain of the view that the Maple Leafs can make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference this season.  Now, in truth, I believe that primarily because the East is just not that strong, though I do think the Leafs are improved.  Most of the rosters in this Conference have serious flaws.  I see so many teams (Buffalo, Montreal, Jets, Panthers, Tampa, Isles, among others) with gaps on their roster that there is no reason the Leafs can’t compete for a playoff berth—especially if we get some goaltending. (Now, we may get there and struggle against a good team, but my point is that the Leafs are good enough to reach the playoffs…)

After six games, I think a lot of us would agree there are some things to like about this year’s roster.  It's not all rosy nor is it doom and gloom.  The Ranger game exposed weaknesses we already knew we had.  We aren’t big and tough and overly physical.  But we can skate and move the puck, and try to play Carlyle’s “system”, obviously, while maybe being a bit crustier than we were in the past.  

After a road win in Buffalo, here are a few random observations about some Leafs:

  • I like Reimer’s game.  I recognize that I’m a broken record and I’m not suggesting he is the reincarnation of Turk Broda.  But let’s be honest, he’s been pretty good, eh?  I wrote after the Ranger game that there were little signs that he was more and more like the ‘old’ Reimer.  Against the Sabres, he did his job and certainly kept the Leafs in it when they wilted in their own zone.  (The only difference between Tuesday night and the Ranger loss was that the Rangers finished better later in the game.  The Leafs struggled at times in the third in Buffalo, but the Sabres don’t have much finish at this point.)  To me, Reimer looks solid.  Is he in that so-called “zone”?  Don’t know, but he looks, and here’s that word—confident.
  • I generally am fine with Kessel’s effort.  I mean, to me, most nights he looks the same.  Some nights the puck just doesn’t go in for him.  In six games, he has points but no goals, despite plenty of ice time—and lots of scoring chances.  But I will say this: when the puck is on Kessel’s stick right now, I don’t feel like he’s going to score.  I wonder how he feels?
  • I’ll same the same about Kulemin—very different player, of course, but when he gets the puck on his stick in a position to score, I don’t have that good feeling that he will find the back of the net at this point, either.  With Kessel, you know that will change.  I’m not sure at this point about our man Nik.  We’ll see.
  • The Leafs TV crew has a tendency to over-state things, as in, when a Leaf scores, suddenly that player is having a great overall game.  I was thinking about Franson, McClement and Frattin and how the announcers were going on about them after they each had scored.  They had played well enough, for sure, but I didn’t think they were quite flawless.  But Frattin sure showed me, with a nifty game-winner in the dying seconds of overtime. (And Carlyle said after the game Franson played his “best game as a Leaf” so maybe he did.  And he spoke at length about Frattin.  In fairness to my observation, Millen does that—a lot.  Maybe you disagree?)
  • I’ll say it again:  those who follow VLM know I went on at some length last year about Frattin’s ability to make plays from his off wing and create power moves to the net from that side.  His OT goal was a classic example of that, eh? 
  • Along those lines, Kessel is at his dangerous best when he does much the same thing—attack from his off wing and cut suddenly to the middle of the ice.  He did that against against Buffalo and Miller had to be sharp.
  • Kadri also is using a similar move—a quick sort of step-move shift from his off wing to his forehand in that dangerous area in the center of the ice.  Kadri again was one of the Leafs causing problems for the opposition on a consistent basis.
  • Carlyle tried to cut back on Phaneuf and Kostka’s ice time, but Dion still played more than 27 minutes and Kostka close to 25.
  • Hey, I still like Kostka a lot.  I’ll keep saying it.  I know a lot of folks are now calling him “an AHL player” who is dragging Phaneuf down, but I don’t see it that way.  I think he makes some smart plays and can skate really well.
  • McClement got to play away from his fourth-line linemates, Brown and Orr, and did respond well.  Carlyle cited him after the game as well.  I saw McClement lapse in his own zone at times leaving guys uncovered when it could have cost the Leafs, but there are a lot of gassed players out there in this shortened season.  He may well have been exhausted.  Overall he was quite good.  Is he a second line player?  I don’t think so but that’s not really his role.  That he can play bigger minutes helps a lot.
  • Komarov remains a player much as advertised.  I find you have to watch him closely to notice the important little things he does.  He’s maybe not as obviously a big-time agitator as advertised, but he’s been fine for the most part.
  • Kessel played more than 26 minutes, van Riemsdyk over 24.  I’m still in a wait and see mode with van Riemsdyk.  He is willing to lodge himself in the front of the opposition net, which is good.  And yes, he has scored some goals, which never hurts.  Maybe I’m waiting for something that isn’t there?  Not sure.
  • After almost every game this year, I walk away feeling that Gunnarsson does something that makes me think he’s not quite himself yet.  Mental lapses?  Fatigue?  Or maybe I’m judging him too harshly.
  • Fraser was a plus 3, though I’m not sure he did anything out of the ordinary to earn that stat.  Maybe that’s a good thing.
  • If Franson can be consistently good, he will surely play more than 13 minutes in future games, perhaps further lessening the load on Phaneuf.
Off the top of my head, a question:  when Miller is not phenomenal in the Sabre net, are they, in your mind, a better team than the Leafs?  Do they have a better roster?

I ask because it may come down to the Sabres and the Leafs for that 8th playoff spot.  I honestly think the Leafs are like a lot of other teams in the  weak-ish East.  So who knows?  Your thoughts?


  1. I think Reimer will get better but this team needs to drastically improve their play in front of him. In the last several games, a Toronto lead was blown by poor defensive zone play. The Leafs prevailed this time, but the trend must stop.

  2. Agreed, Sean. There was some slipshod work in their own zone again at times, including in the third period. Reimer bailed them out- which is what good goaltending is supposed to do, eh? My thought is the East has lots of teams struggling with limited rosters and not much of an identity. The Leafs are not alone at this point...

  3. I read a funny statistic today. Think about the ultimate No 1 defensemen of the league. Well Zdeno Chara is one. Mike Kostka is playing more minutes per game this season than Chara. That's how much they were overplaying him.

    Nice effort from the team. Mike Brown got injured and that's why we didn't see much of that 4th line. Did you miss them? No? that's why we need better bottom six players. McClement isn't perfect but he is so much better than Brown or Orr...even Steckel.

    I sure like that Brian Boyle from the Rangers. He is big, 244 lbs, hard to control, forechecks, takes face offs, stands in front of the net and has fought allot of tough guys in the league: Jody Shelley, Carkner. He doesn't knock guys out but he does stand up for his teammates.

    I wish we had a guy like that palying for us rather than against us. Look at all the good things he does on just one play:

  4. Yes, Boyle is an example of a guy who does those little but important things that help teams win close games, DP. And I thought of you during the Buffalo game, when you commented recently about improving out "bottom six". Those guys should be more than simply, as I've posted here often before, replaceable players. Thanks.

  5. A win is a win, no question, but my glasses aren't quite as rosy-hued as yours are vis-a-vis the playoffs. Yet! The main reason is that we haven't dominated any team we've played so far. And the last three games seem to have been played mainly in our end. That worries me.
    To some of your points:
    Reimer looks as good as he ever has and maybe he's finding his old confidence. We seemed to be going back to our "running around" play in the defensive zone though, which bodes ill for James' save percentage.
    I thought this was one of Franson's better games. If he's finding his mojo in the Carlyle system, it will give us the point man with an accurate shot we've lacked for awhile.
    Kessel is always dangerous - I'm sure the goals will come. Miller beat him a couple of times, but it feels like he's almost there. He also made a nice pass setting up Franson. as I've said before, all the focus on his scoring ignores what a great playmaker he is. I hope he and JvR click.
    Frattin is looking good to me. he made a couple of nice hits, and the goals were both beauties. I like the way he and Kadri work together. I think Nazem's got a new feistiness that will only increase his value.
    Gunner, yep, looks a bit out of sync still. I tell myself it's early days in the Carlyle regime. I'm sure everyone's still figuring it out.
    I watched the Buffalo feed of the game, and from what you say about the Leaf guys, the Sabre announcers didn't make too much of what the Leafs were doing. But Frattin did draw praise. More often than not, they were bemoaning the Sabres' many missed opportunities.
    Your question about how we stack up to the Sabres-without-Miller is interesting, because I thought Reimer out-goaltended him tonight. So, even with Miller, we're at least their equal and are superior on some nights. I'm still not convinced either of the teams will be making the playoffs, though.

  6. Michael,

    That was the best game I have watched the Leafs play this season. To answer your question. Yes, Buffalo is a better team than Toronto. I feel that they have a much better chance to make the playoffs with Miller in net, than Toronto does with Reimer. No matter how much you pump his tires, he's not that player yet. He may be, he may never be. Only time and shots on goal will tell. Do they have a better roster. Yes, because Miller is on it. Goalies are such a huge part of hockey you can't separate the components. Up next in Leafs nation, do we have enough solid left wingers to make the playoffs?

    Since I am a sucker and I pay for LeafsTV, I watched the game last night. In its entirety, with the sound off. The rampant homerism that Millen and Bowen put forth is reminiscent of door to door vacuum cleaner salesmen. So no audio for their broadcasts. Gave some time tested rock and roll a listen, good times.

    Franson, I do think he played his best game as a Leaf last night. There is something that I really appreciate about his game when he gets or deserves, the opportunity. He hits the ****ing net from the point. Low, hard and quickly on the net. Hello, Dion any chance that you could do this once and a while? The first Frattin goal says it all to me. Franson never thought he was going to score, that play screamed at me that he was hoping for good luck on the rebound. Kind of like a pass involving Miller. Franson also hit the post twice from the blueline, as well as the goal he scored. Nice night, in my opinion right there. I haven't even touched on his nice play in the neutral zone. Some very engaged rub outs along the boards. I don't see him make those kind of plays a lot. There is no player on this team other than Reimer that I feel can have a bigger impact on the team, if he figures it out. He has some star abilities, he needs to find what Carlyle is looking for.

    I also like McClements game. It was nice not to see him stapled to the bench for long stretches at a time. He created some opportunities. Perhaps his touch will improve with more ice time. I really like Frattin, if we have a potential all star power forward on this team, its him. That was a bold move at the end of overtime. He needs to build on that, and move to the promised land. Big body, speed and a nice shot. Improve young man, and prosper.

    I read this somewhere and even though I can't remember where. I am going to ask here. Even though there are things to like about Kessel's game so far. I can't think of a game where I would say he was Toronto's best player. I am not as concerned with the goal scoring. He has always been streaky. That seems to be something that isn't going to change.

    Hey, if they play like that more often than they play like they did in New York. You may be right, a playoff bid might be attainable. Time will tell. Also goals for and against. Those seem to be big in the NHL.

  7. when miller is on-top of his game, he's phenomenal. it reminds me of the sabres when they had hasek... as long as the sabres scored 1... or 2 goals... they were almost guarenteed a win or at least a tie!
    there are a few players on the sabres who i would covet for the leafs... notably their young centers... hodgson... grigorenko. other than that though, the rosters have a similar feel, with a couple of high-end 'skill' players on the front (vanek/pominville), an agitator (kaleta), a rocket from the point (ehrhoff)... but i think overall they're pretty evenly matched.
    i guess time will tell!

    (komarov made me groan a few times last night... failed/sloppy clearing attempt, unable to produce under pressure when the puck jumped his stick... couple of isolated incidents, but you know the top guys don't make these mistakes. hopefully with time, comes better ice/puck intelligence!).

    cool seeing a new look to the site! although i miss the dark blue!

  8. We've discussed your point about Kessel in the past, Gerund O'. He makes plays and dishes nicely. He was often criticized for not passing the puck earlier in his Leaf days, but for me, that's an outdated criticism now.

    If Reimer plays like he can, and does indeed have his confidence back, that can make a significant difference, for sure.

    Franson should be a part of the Leafs top pairings, one would think. He was on the top pairings in Nashville, which had a better team and had some elite defensemen on the roster. Trotz really liked Franson. There is no reason he shouldn't be able to play well here. Thanks Gerund.

    1. You touched on Reimer so here goes... Am I the only person who sees a few really bad signs in him?
      1. whenever he doesn´t get hit by a puck, or it misses the net alltogether, he ducks. Really. Puts his head and neck between his shoulders.
      2. When scored upon, he "freezes" takes a couple of seconds and looks at the ice motionless. As if beeing scored on is something new to him.
      I just think these are cristiano ronaldo types of "practiced reactions". It really, REALLY bothers me.
      Quick note: Any 1980's Leafs team would just kill the current team.

  9. You make a fair point about Miller and his importance on the Sabres, Jim. I will say this, though: Miller has not always been stellar through the years. A fine goalie, of course. But he has had some relative "off years"- last season being one of them in the eyes of Buffalo media and fans, for example.

    Beyond him, I don't know how much better, tougher or deeper the Sabres are.

    As you mentioned, some guys played pretty well in Buffalo, including Franson and McClement. If Franson can find the consistency in his game (and is allowed to play his game without too much interference) he may well have an impact.

    Kessel has been fine, but we naturally talk about him not scoring goals, since that is one of the things we expect him to do. My guess is when he starts scoring again, many fans will forget his "slow" start to the season. If he catches fire, no one will care about these first few games. If he doen't start to "produce" on the scoresheet, there will be discussion, of course as we seek answers for "why". I think it's simply that the puck isn't going in. Not sure he is playing much different than he ever does.

    Good stuff, thanks Jim.

  10. Hasek...those were the days for the Sabres, Alex. But Miller has been awfully good a lot of the time in his tenure as well, as you mentioned.

    The Sabres do have some interesting pieces, Alex. I wonder if they will regret keeping Grigorenko and burning a year of his ELC? Talented kid, obviously. Hodgson is a nice player, too, but I've heard the Buffalo media get on him at times. He's young and should get better- and become more consistent in his work ethic. I don't know enough about him to comment on whether the criticism is fair.

    Komarov, as I alluded to, has been pretty much as advertised but maybe not what he can be, once he gets comfortable. We'll see.

    Yes, we lost some of the nice "Leaf blue" on the new site. Not sure if we can restore some of that! Thanks Alex.

  11. Hi portuguese leaf- I sense a lot of fans see Reimer's imperfections. The specific "traits" you noted may trouble you more than some, I'm guessing. (We all have our "sore spots" with certain athletes, things that annoy us. Reimer seems to be one of those guys for you.)

    I'm not sure if ALL of the '80s teams would beat this team. There were some fairly weak Leaf squads early on in that decade! (I'm working on a post about the Leafs from the later '80s, by the way...)

    Thanks for chiming in today, portguese leaf.

    1. thanks for the reply michael.

      about that 80's post you're working on, i´ll be waiting for it with my al iafrate sweater on. (yes i still have one, and yes, i said sweater and not jersey).

      i like how you take time to reply to the comments.

      thanks again.

  12. What we need now is a wider sample of games to know if the Leafs can compete. I guess that is what final standings are! At last, a meritocracy! I knew it was there somewhere. To me, Frattin and Franson are players that are playing with confidence. Franson seemed to lose his confidence last year and it is just recently that he is finding it again and consequently he is playing a much more fluid, instinctual game, "elegant" really, which is a funny way to describe such a big, gangly man.

    What strikes me about Frattin is the pinpoint, split second accuracy of his plays -- the perfect touch pass, the thread the needle corralling of rebounds, the "roof daddy" shot with centimeters margin for error. Of course, you have to be in a zone that most of us can only glimpse and never visit, but it seems to me that considerable confidence is necessary to get there. It is worth asking how he got there because it is a sign of successful player development has long been the Leaf's Achilles heel.

    So what was it, Carlyle, Eakins, the Marlies' playoff run, getting cut out of training camp, the kid himself ...? Frattin and Kadri (despite the tilt-a-whirl development strategy) are coming along nicely. Are these kids overcoming the Leafs’ historically proven player development incompetence of are we seeing the results of “culture change” where it was truly needed – management, coaching and player development in particular?

  13. Confidence, proper player development- they seem to go hand in hand, eh, Bobby C.? You know we have both raised questions and concerns about the Leaf approach in this regard, even in recent seasons with the supposedly enlightened management team that arrived more than four years ago.

    I still feel they messed up Schenn (and Gustavsson) and believe they handled Kadri in a peculiar fashion, to say the last.

    I will say this: Eakins may have been the "rock" under-pinning what good has come out of player development. I'm not sure management has always made the right moves, and I think they and the previous Leaf coaching staff have been responsible for some failed development efforts.

    But Eakins has seemingly (again, I'm not close to the situation so I can only guess) done a nice job of working guys hard but also nurturing their growth at the same time. Not all coaches can do that.

    So if Kadri and Frattin to "make it", I will likely credit Eakins more than anyone else- the players will deserve most of the credit, of course. (The jury is very much out for me as to whether Carlyle will show long-term patience with players. That has not exactly been his strength over the years. These are new, early and heady days for him as Leaf coach.)

    Thanks Bobby.

  14. Iafrate was one of the most naturally gifted Leafs I've seen over more than five decades of following the franchise, portuguese leaf. He'll be included in my story, for sure. Thanks.

  15. I'll admit the Leafs are a better team this year, but I'm not convinced they are a team capable of making the playoffs. There are some teams that made the playoffs last year, that will likely drop out this year, but in my mind there are other teams (besides the Leafs) ready to press for a playoff spot.

    Okay, lets consider the Eastern playoff teams from last year who might slide below the 8th spot. Certainly Washington and Florida could fit that category. So we have two strong possibilities, and you might add Philadelphia as well given their very slow start this year. The Devils are the other bubble team in my opinion, but they've started the year quite strong. So lets say we have 3 spots available, maybe 4.

    CAR - Most would agree Carolina made some significant changes since last year, and is well positioned to be in the top 8.

    WPG = Winnipeg is a big fast team, and have added a couple of nice pieces in Jokinen and Ponikarovsky. They made a pitch for the playoffs last year and just fell short. All they need to do is become a .500 team on the road. Can't see the Leafs finishing ahead of the Jets.

    TPB - Tampa only missed the playoffs last year by 8 points, and this year they've improved on defence and in net (two big shortfalls from last year). They are off to a good start and little guys like St Louis and Conacher are lighting it up.

    BUF and the NYI both underperformed last year. You could argue the Leafs are marginally better than both those teams, but are they good enough to capture a playoff spot? I would say there is little hope unless a team like Philadelphia or the Devils slip and miss out on the top 8. To be honest I don't see that happening, but its not impossible. Lupul being out for close to half the season is not going to help.

    BTW, nice new layout Michael, very clean and refreshing.

  16. To be clear, Don (TML_fan), it's not that I think the Leafs are suddenly a playoff team because they have made a few improvement and won a couple of games. As you know, I've been saying this for weeks. And my "theory" (it's not a prognostication!) is based, yes, on the fact that there are so many teams in a boat similar to the Leafs.

    I see Toronto finishing ahead of Winnipeg, for example. Some nice young players there, but Im not sure their "vets" bring a winning culture. But I could be wrong.

    The Devils? Great start, but there has to be some fall back, I would think. That roster just isn't that strong.

    Isles have lots of holes, and while Carolina should be better on paper, I'm not convinced. And Tampa does not have proven goaltending.

    But that's the fun, eh? We all see things a bit differently, and I just feel the blue and white may be there in the end.

    If they don't make it, well, it's not like we'll be shocked!

    Thanks Don. (And thanks for commenting on the new "look". I had to be pulled into this. I tend to resist change!)

  17. First off, my first time on your site in a little while. I like the new layout, Mike!

    I pretty much completely agree with everything you're saying. Especially about those players you referred to that are doing good things away from the puck. I think players like Fraser are best when you don't notice them on the ice. Their jobs are to make the right play, not the flashy one. Good to see.

    I was quite happy with Komarov's game last night. Getting Buffalo to take that penalty in front of their net was quality. He's doing his job.

    Phaneuf and Kostka are still playing too many minutes but I guess maybe this is something we'll have to get used to with Carlyle and his eagerness to match lines. It was reported multiple times last night that Ruff didn't try to get his guys away from Carlyle's matchups. A win is a win so I guess Randy won this round.

    Finally, I was impressed with Franson last night. I think the kid has finally came down and said "See here, I can do this consistently. Play me, coach." Good for the kid. Looks like he's actually living up to his statement from training camp. I hope he begins to see more minutes.

  18. It's funny, Sasko- Franson was a good enough player to fit well and play significant minutes on a much better team in Nashville. And, he was younger, less experienced and had a very demanding defensive-oriented coach in Trotz. You have to believe he should be able to "make it" here, too.

    If guys like Franson can take on more minutes, that should ease the burden somewhat on Phaneuf, though, as you say Sasko, Carlyle will no doubt still obsess over match-ups.

  19. I too agree that they need to reduce Phaneuf's ice time.
    I guess one way would be to give Phaneuf's power play time to someone else.

    I wonder how a power play with Franson and Kessel on the points and Kadri, JVR and Bozak up front would work?

    Franson is there because he seems to have a knack for getting the puck through and he seemingly can control his shot.
    I can envision Kessel darting in off the point and causing all sorts of problems for the PK'ers.
    JVR and Kadri would go to the net.

  20. "@jonasTSN1050: Updates: MacArthur getting closer. Komisarek available. Shoulder injury for Brown. Flu for Orr."

    No Brown or Orr?

    Would you bring up Ryan Hamilton or Joe Colborne to play on the 4th line?

    Colborne's defensive statistics are quite good. He is on the ice for very few goals against, while about 3 times as many goals for are scored.

  21. Hey Michael,

    I also want to compliment you on the new site layout. Very nice indeed.

    My thoughts...

    I too have seen some of the 'old' Reimer (if we can call it that). As much as there's been criticism, as much as maybe yes this team would benefit from a solid veteran, we have what we have. Top-flight goaltending is not coming by trade any time soon - we lack assets to do it, and there isn't that much available. If St. Croix is helping Reimer to unlearn Allaire, or relearn what he did before, and he's healthy, I think Reimer can give us adequate starting goaltending. Not spectacular, he isn't likely to steal games, but he's going to do ok, and that's the best we can hope for.

    I am with you on Kessel. Again, I don't see where Cox's logic is. Kessel is a streaky goal scorer, some playmaking skill. He's not a foundation player. He's a piece of the puzzle. But, does anyone believe seriously that right now, zero goals to start a season, not on the last year of a contract, is the time to 'sell high"? To get what? A prospect or draft pick that 'may be'?

    Kulemin, he is a different player. I don't advocate dumping him, but he's not yet the proven 30+ goal guy with a serious chance of close to 50 that Kessel is. He's also not Selke Trophy material. He's a nice player, a bit of a 'tweener. If he finds his game, that's great. But I wouldn't flinch about including him to get a deal done.

    I think it's an interesting group. Still not a team. There's a lot here really, a lot of issues too. To be 3-3 in conference games, and to have beaten PIT and BUF, I think it's not bad. But remember, they are missing Lupul and Gardiner, and Carlyle is still instituting a new system and getting to know what combinations work.

    I like JVR. But again, we need to temper our expectations. Just as Luke Schenn is projected to be a shut down guy etc but has not reached that level, JVR is still maturing. I think I see him in the John LeClair/Mark Recchi type mold... and LeClair and Recchi took time to get there.

    One thing, I am not sure I understand Carlyle's defensive pairs, and usage of players. Komisarek's eye injury not withstanding, I don't quite get why Komi and Franson have been in and out of the lineup. Or why Kostka is getting 25+ and Gunnarsson is not paired with Phaneuf. If it were me, I'd think the group would be Phaneuf, Gunnar, Komi, Franson, Liles and Kostka/Holzer/Fraser as 6&7, with Gardiner back in when healthy. The Phaneuf and his partner in 24-27 minutes, with the rest ranging 15-19 minutes.

    I say that because it is a shortened season, more games in fewer nights, and because I am a believer that you are asking for trouble in a scenario where you've player one pair 27-30 minutes, then the one guy goes down to injury, and you look at a guy who's played 13 minutes a night and say "Yeah, you gotta give me 20 now". Pplus, as others have said, Komi and Franson I think both have shown in the minutes they've played that they may well be ready to contribute more singificantly.

  22. I do wonder if Carlyle will experiment (all coaches do, I realize) more and more with the power play units, apollo678. I'm trying to remember if Wilson ever used Kessel on the point? Kessel is more of a classic wrist-shot guy- we don't see him wind up for the slapshot from the blueline very often. But he would be a guy who can find open space from the blueline on the power play, yes.

    Franson showed us he can get the puck to the net last season, and he keeps the puck in play, something Phaneuf rarely does, it seems. Thanks for visiting.

  23. It's a good question, DP. I'd be leaning toward Hamilton. I've followed his career long before he came to the Marlies. He is someone who seems to play hard most nights and has been an exemplary player for the Marlies. I think all things being equal he has earned a look before Colborne.

  24. We're pretty much of one mind on the subjects you raised today, Mark. Reimer can be good. Not expecting Johnny Bower. Just want him to be healthy, confident and play like he can, pre-Allaire influence.

    Kessel is what he is. Exciting, and some nights the puck goes in. Kulemin, yes, I'm not off his bandwagon. I'm probably just adjusting my expectations at this stage.

    It's still early, for sure. Wins on the road (3 already, is it?) is nice. We haven't had Gardiner or Lupul. I do think that the blueline minutes will be distributed a bit differently over time as Carlyle develops more confidence in guys. We know Gardiner can play a lot. So can Gunnarsson.

    The defense could go from being a relative weakness to a strength, but only if the overall team approach is solid, and the three I just mentioned are consistent- and Komisarek, Franson and Kostka play as they can.

    Thanks Mark. And thank you for your comments about the site!

  25. I would like to bring up both Hamilton and Colborne for a few games if Orr and Brown are out.

    A line of Hamilton, Colborne and Steckel would have some size and should win some face offs.

    1. I think we may see Hamilton and Ashton come up in that case... Dallas was quite happy with Carter in recent days and I think those two are more suited to come in on the 4th line (a line that I hope would get more ice time while they're here).

      As much as I'd like to see Colborne (and think that he is good defensively), it looks more likely that we would see him if a center goes down with injury. Carlyle (wisely) seems to like using players where they are best suited (hence Kostka in a top 4 role), so that's why I would doubt Colborne would be the callup.

      I'm looking forward to seeing both Hamilton and Ashton for a few games and hope that will happen to show us what we have when Orr reaches 400 games!

  26. My sense is that any one of Colborne, Ashton or Hamilton would be able to provide some fourth-line minutes for the Leafs, InTimeFor62. Hamilton has the experience, of course, and each has the size to compete.