With last night’s win against the Edmonton Oilers bringing the Toronto Maple Leafs playoffs chances to 90.05%, it looks as if the Maple Leafs are finally heading towards their first playoff berth since the NHL lockout. It’s never a good idea to assume anything, so I won’t be congratulating the boys on anything until we see an ‘x’ beside them in the standings.
Still, the success has to be coming from somewhere. Players finally developing and hitting their strides? Improved goaltending from both James Reimer and Jonas Gustavsson? The additions of Greg Cronin and Scott Gordon? Perhaps.
There’s no way to determine for sure what the cause is, that’s the beauty of sports. There are so many variables that go in to winning, it’s hard to pinpoint the driving force behind success. At best, we can make cases for aspects of improved play that have a part in the overall effect.
Today I want to look at the phenomena that is ‘scoring by defensemen’. As the season has unfolded, I’ve noticed a few distinct differences between this years team and those of seasons passed. One of the most glaring differences is the involvement of the defense in offensive production.
The chart doesn’t include Tomas Kaberle (3g – 35a – 38 pts) and Francois Beauchemin (2g – 10a – 12 pts). In total, the Maple Leafs defense scored 139 points. This may have been impacted by the fact Dion Phaneuf and Carl Gunnarsson both missed a good amount of games.
Obviously management saw this was an issue as well, as they tried hard to land John-Michael Liles at last year’s deadline. Ultimately, they acquired him before the NHL Entry Draft, but it was obvious the team wanted to improve their production from the back end. To supplement Liles’ addition, the team traded for young Cody Franson as well.
The offensive expectations coming into this season were obviously higher with a healthy Dion Phaneuf and Carl Gunnarsson along with the arrival of Liles and Franson. Luke Schenn was coming off a breakout year offensively, and Mike Komisarek was expected to be a healthy scratch most of the time in favour of Jake Gardiner. Gardiner, a noted offensive defensemen was expected to contribute along the blueline as well.
So, how have Maple Leaf defenders fared so far this season? Refer to the chart below:
First thing to address: Maple Leafs have scored a total of 122 points after just 53 games. They’re on pace for 189 points by the end of the 82 game schedule.
The second thing to look at is the amount of games missed by key players.
- John-Michael Liles missed 16 games to concussion
- Jake Gardiner has missed 7 games as a healthy scratch
- Cody Franson has missed 15 games as a healthy scratch
You have to imagine if those players (all considered mainstays in the lineup at this point) had played every game so far, they’d have a few more points. It’s no use speculating on what-ifs, but rather, we should acknowledge that there is a direct correlation between the increased offence generated by Maple Leafs defensemen and the success the team has seen this year.
At this point, it’s not known for sure whether or not the Leafs will make the playoffs, or even have consistent success for the rest of the season. All we can do is note that this year’s team is much better (wins and points wise) and it is no coincidence that the defensemen have played a bigger role offensively.
By the numbers: points by defensemen for Stanley Cup champions (regular season)
- 2011 Boston Bruins: 149 points by defensemen.
- 2010 Chicago Blackhawks: 222 points by defensemen.
- 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins: 148 points by defensemen.
- 2008 Detroit Red Wings: 204 points by defensemen.
- 2007 Anaheim Ducks: 209 points by defensemen.
According to Pierre Lebrun, the Toronto Maple Leafs are set to announce a four-year extension for defenceman John-Michael Liles. The move comes at a peculiar time as Liles is currently out of the lineup recovering from a concussion. Liles is currently signed to a contract with a cap hit of $4.2 million. His new deal will reportedly see him return around the same cap hit, possibly lower if front loaded.
*UPDATE* TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports a four-year deal with an AAV of $3.875 million annually.
We will update this post with more information as it becomes available throughout the day.
One thing that can be assumed with the signing is that there must be moves coming. The Leafs will likely look to move a defenceman in order to free up some money to acquire a forward, or in anticipation of the free agent market this summer.
After sitting in the pressbox for four straight games, the Toronto Maple Leafs have sent down Jake Gardiner to the Toronto Marlies of the AHL.
The move comes at a bizarre time; John-Michael Liles remains out with concussion like symptoms, and aside from Gardiner, there is hardly any mobility on the back end.
Don’t get me wrong, if Gardiner isn’t playing, then he should be sent to the AHL where he can log big minutes and continue to develop. Having him sit in the press box won’t do him or the team any good at this point.
At this point, the only way Gardiner gets back into the lineup will be if the Leafs trade a defender, which I highly anticipate to happen.
Last year, the “emergence” of Keith Aulie allowed for the trading of Francois Beauchemin.
This year, it seems as if Gardiner and perhaps Jesse Blacker may be ready for prime time. This should afford the Leafs some depth to make a move.
This is not the last we’ve seen of Jake Gardiner, mark these words.
January. The second half of a long season begins as teams begin to converse about potential deals that would seemingly put them over the top, or to restock their cupboards. For many years, this Leafs team has been assuming a seller’s standpoint at this point, but this year it seems the trend will end. With 47 points (21-15-5) in 41 games, the Leafs are on pace for a 94 point season, which should be barely enough to squeak them into the playoffs for the first time since the lockout. To put this into perspective, the Leafs had 38 points (16-20-5) after the same amount of games last year. Playoff-bound? Still too early to tell, but it’s a baby step in the right direction, that’s for sure.
Since the last time I wrote, the Leafs made many rosters moves, and here’s a little recap incase you forgot.
- Korbinian Holzer bounced from the NHL to the AHL, nothing worth commenting about though.
- Maligned forward Luca Caputi was traded to the Anaheim Ducks for forward Nicolas Deschamps, more on that later.
- Philippe Dupuis was demoted to the Toronto Marlies. Now I don’t have to worry about spelling his name wrong anymore.
- Colton Orr‘s time as a Leaf is finished. He passed through waivers, and was demoted to the Toronto Marlies (AHL).
- Matt Frattin was demoted in favour of keeping Nazem Kadri, and in order to accomodate Mike Brown‘s return. More on this later too.
- Returning to the lineup were Mike Komisarek, Matthew Lombardi and Mike Brown.
- Tyler Bozak suffered an injury on the 30th, and should be out for a few games longer.
- John-Michael Liles remains out, so too does Colby Armstrong.
Luca Caputi and Nicolas Deschamps
At times, it was easy to forget about Luca Caputi, aside from his presence on Twitter. He had fallen so far down the depth chart due to lackadaisical play and injuries that this trade seems almost insignificant. In Caputi, the Leafs are losing a big bodied forward who at one time was coveted due to his size and scoring combination. Now, he’s effectively a grinder, but struggles in this role due to poor skating. It’s a wonder we even acquired anything in return other than a late round pick.
In Deschamps, the Leafs are acquiring a prospect which the Ducks deemed was expendable in order to acquire players closer to contributing at the professional level.
Deschamps, a former second round pick of the Ducks (Burke’s own pick as well) had less than impressive numbers this year (34GP – 6G – 8A) after posting decent numbers last year with the Syracuse Crunch (80GP – 15G – 31A). He wasn’t a prolific junior scorer, as are most offensive players in the QMJHL, but still shows some decent upside in terms of work ethic and finding the net.
At this point, the trade gives both players a change of scenery, with the Leafs opting to trade for a player and give him some more time to develop, as opposed to Caputi who was in need of a new contract and could no longer be labeled ‘prospect’.
The End of Orr
I won’t delve too far into this, it would take a lot of time and effort to get to the true underlying issues of fighting, heavyweights and the direction the league is taking. When Brian Burke signed Orr to his contract, he envisioned Orr patrolling the fourth line, playing as decently as an enforcer can (which he did quite well) and reminding other teams not to take liberties with his teammates. Three years later, Colton Orr no longer has a job. Fights do not exist as they once did; players take liberties and skirt away from their traditional consequences, and this makes Brian Burke (an astute traditionalist) furious. Orr’s roll is now filled by Jay Rosehill / Mike Brown: guys who skate faster, can contribute more offensively, and play bigger roles defensively. Also, they cost less than Orr’s $1.00 million cap hit.
Orr now skates for the Toronto Marlies (AHL) and we wish him the best of luck.
On Matt Frattin and Nazem Kadri
Firstly, I’ll say this. The Leafs have two good, young players in Nazem Kadri and Matt Frattin. They will both be offensive contributors at the NHL level one day. However, at this point in time, given the situation at other spots in the lineup, only one of the two can remain with the big club. Nazem Kadri, since being brought up, has shown that he is ready for prime time, and has been a factor in almost all aspects of the game, including the scoresheet (for all you people that judge a players value solely on his statistics). He effectively bumped Matt Frattin (who has been good, but not as good as Kadri as of late) down to the fourth line. With Mike Brown set to return, Frattin was demoted to the Toronto Marlies (AHL) so that he could play top line minutes and continue to hone his offensive game. Brown – more suited to the fourth line role – adds a defensive element that Frattin does not have, while keeping the speed and tenacity status quo. A lateral move? Perhaps. The effects of the move are primarily for the long term, as opposed to the short.
The Return of Brown, Komisarek and Lombardi
While refreshing to have Brown and Komisarek back from injury, I can’t say I’m too pleased that Matthew Lombardi is returning to the lineup. I haven’t seen much from him that I’ve liked, or made me think “wow”. He plays hard, but brings little to no impact on a nightly basis. He scored a shorthanded goal in the season opener against Montreal, but hasn’t done much since then. He’s never been an offensive juggernaut, but has a measly 7 points in 23 games, well below his standard output.
Hate if you must, but Mike Komisarek has played decently this year. He’ll never impress you with an offensive play or slick pass out of his own zone, but he’s steady when he’s on his game, and he’s definitely been better this year.
You all know what Mike Brown brings to the table, that’s what makes him a fan favourite.
Firstly, I hope everyone had an amazing holiday wether they were celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah or any of the other various holidays that we celebrate around the world at this time. The Leafs played their last game prior to the holiday on the 23rd against the Islanders, a 5-3 win. The team was lucky enough to have Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day off before resuming last night against the Panthers, a 5-3 loss.
Ron Wilson and his Extension
It’s never a dull moment in Leafs Nation, and as such, news was made Christmas morning when Ron Wilson announced his own extension by way of a tweet. The coach caused some ruckus partly because of how he went about announcing and the timing. First, on Dec 23rd he tweeted that ‘Christmas would be better if Santa put a piece of paper in his stocking’ alluding to wanting a contract extension. Then, he tweeted Christmas morning that ‘He came! He came! He brought me my contract extension’ and thus the frenzy would ensue.
Twitter was ablaze with the usual commentary about how Wilson is a good coach deserving of the contract, how he’s a terrible coach undeserving of the contract, how the team is crap, how Burke should be fired, etcetera. On Boxing Day on, the conversation turned to how Ron Wilson has it out for the Toronto media and purposely announced his extension Christmas morning in hopes of disrupting the media’s holiday with their families. I won’t say much about this, it’s not my place, but I can feel sympathetic for the media members who were forced to go and cover the story on Christmas morning. At the same time, I think the Leafs could have handled the situation a bit better and had media availability a day later.
Liles Injured; Holzer Recalled
There were some actual hockey related happenings that occurred as well. John-Michael Liles sat out the last two games with what was first called a ‘sore neck’, but has now been deemed a concussion. Yes, add another one to the list. Liles has been a God-send for the Leafs this year, his playmaking and poise on the backend helping puck movement and the transition game. It’s unknown how long Liles will be out, but his presence will be missed. The Leafs have recalled Korbinian Holzer as the seventh defenceman in the meanwhile.
Shaky Performances On The Road
Tor0nto played a sloppy game against a weak Islanders team, and barely made it out with both points. It’s encouraging to see the offensive outburst in the first period, but disheartening to see the structural collapse that occurred as the game progressed. No team is ever perfect, and this Leafs team is still young and will need to learn, however you can tell that goaltending and the penalty kill will continue to be this team’s Achilles heel.
Toronto’s effort against Florida was valiant, but in the end it was too little, too late (which seems to be a recurring theme when the Leafs go down by a lot early). James Reimer let in some really soft goals, and if the Leafs are going to win they need consistent strong goaltending. Reimer played well last week, so hopefully it’s a one game funk, but you can’t deny that he has been letting in some softies this year.
Kadri Sticking Around This Time?
Nazem Kadri has made the most of his latest call up, registering two goals and increasing his icetime in consecutive games from 13:43 to 15:04 to 16:16. He has registered 7 shots and has managed to stay a +3 while making some impressive defensive plays. His chemistry with Tim Connolly and Clarke MacArthur is showing, and he adds an element to the line that no other player was able to. Kadri is going to be a good player, and his development (in this case, proper) is beginning to show. The Leafs wanted Kadri’s next call up to be his last, and it’s finally looking like that it may come to be.
After an impressive showing against the Senators last night, the Leafs are back in action tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers. The lineups are slightly altered, but presumably the effort and tenacity will still be there as yet another wave of players try and make their mark, and land one of those exclusive NHL roster spots. Lineups, notes and more after the jump.
Last night’s game against the Senators was great to watch, not only because it means hockey is back, but because several things happened that give credence to this season being much better than last.
Here are my notes on last night’s game:
- All players look a few steps faster than last year, including Nikolai Kulemin, Nazem Kadri, Tyler Bozak who looked really good all night.
- John-Michael Liles will immediately help the Leafs powerplay this year. His PP-QB abilities are better and less predictable than Tomas Kaberle‘s, and he will shoot the puck as well. He made a few nice passes / plays to keep the puck in and moving around. Looks like a solid pickup.
- Keith Aulie made a few great offensive plays which is odd coming from him.
- The penalty kill, which almost everybody noted, is very much different this year. Instead of being passive, it takes a more aggressive approach which seemed to already pay dividends last night.
- How about Kenny Ryan? Speedy, physical and wouldn’t let any Ottawa player have an easy shift. Odds are he doesn’t stick with the big club, but he could challenge for a spot next year. Looks to be Marlies bound. (OHL eligible as overager)
- Jonas Gustavsson looked decent. Seemed to be swimming a bit on a few plays, but he played OK. Scrivens had a great game as well, he’ll assume starter duties with the Marlies this year.
- The Mikhail Grabovski-Kulemin- Clarke MacArthur line didn’t overly impress, but there’s still time for them to regain form.
- Joe Colborne and Matt Frattin had decent games as well. Although neither did anything too impressive, they both did most of the little things right. Frattin gave the puck up which eventually led to a goal, but he also made a few offensive chances. Colborne’s stick checking is superb; he must have stole the puck away 4-5 times last night.
- Colby Armstrong - Bozak – Kadri line looked really good. They’ve been practicing together for a while now, and they could be the team’s third line this season. It’s important to note that they were essentially the team’s second line last night, and received more ice time than they would normally get, so you’ll have to temper expectations. Speaking of Bozak: a season in a lesser role should help his game all around.
- Jake Gardiner made a very strong case for staying with the team last night. Will be interesting to see what happens with the logjam on defense.
- Philippe Dupuis had a good first game, playing a strong checking game and looking fearless with shot blocks.
Tonight’s lineups feature the Schenn and Kessel brothers. Phil Kessel and Luke Schenn will suit up for the Leafs, while Blake Kessel and Brayden Schenn will lineup with the Flyers.
The Leafs will ice the following lines tonight:
Joffrey Lupul – Tim Connolly – Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur – Joe Colborne – Marcel Mueller
Nazem Kadri – Darryl Boyce – Luca Caputi
Greg Scott – Mike Zigomanis – Colton Orr
Cody Franson – Mike Komisarek
Jeff Finger – Luke Schenn
Simon Gysbers – Jesse Blacker
My thoughts on tonight’s lineup:
- Potential first line of Joffrey Lupul – Tim Connolly – Phil Kessel tonight. Keep an eye on how they play.
- Both Colborne and Kadri are getting an extended look, along with Marcel Mueller and Luca Caputi. (All for the third line winger spot)
- Darryl Boyce and Mike Zigomanis both play tonight as they, along with Dupuis, compete for the Leafs’ fourth line pivot duties.
- Greg Scott gets a shot tonight, he plays a similar game to Kenny Ryan.
- Simon Gysbers and Jesse Blacker are an interesting pairing as they could be the Marlies top line pairing this season.
- James Reimer will supposedly play the entire game.
The Flyers will counter with this lineup:
Sergey Bobrovsky, Michael Leighton
Oskar Bartulis, Matt Carle, Erik Gustaffsson, Blake Kessel, Olivier Lauridsen, Andreas Lilja, Matt Walker
Sean Couturier, Ben Holmstron, Adam Mair, Michael Nylander, Matt Read, James van Riemsdyk, Zac Rinaldo, Brayden Schenn, Tom Sestito, Wayne Simmonds, Mike Testwuide, Eric Wellwood, Harry Zolnierczyk
The game will be on LeafsTV at 7PM EST. The next set of cuts (around 30 of them) will take place tomorrow or the day after. Stuart Percy and David Broll are both injured and are unlikely to see preseason action.
Who wins tonight? What’s the score going to be? Which player(s) will stand out? Let us know below, or through Twitter.
The Leafs officially kick off the 2011-2012 NHL preseason with a classic clash against the Ottawa Senators. Tonight’s battle features a healthy portion of skill and grit for both teams, as players are vying to earn NHL spots for the coming season. This tilt should be a great game as two rivals square off and begin their prospective campaigns. After the jump we’ll take a look at the lineups, and some other interesting notes for camp.
The Leafs will ice the following lineup tonight:
Clarke MacArthur – Mikhail Grabovski – Nikolai Kulemin
Nazem Kadri – Tyler Bozak – Colby Armstrong
Joey Crabb – Joe Colborne – Matt Frattin
Kenny Ryan – Philippe Dupuis – Jay Rosehill
Keith Aulie – Dion Phaneuf
Jake Gardiner – John-Michael Liles
Carl Gunnarsson – Matt Lashoff
Some notes about the lineup:
- The Leafs look to have two “projected” lines in action tonight. By projected, I’m referring to lines that have been predicted to be together to start the regular season. These two lines are Clarke MacArthur - Mikhail Grabovski – Nikolai Kulemin and Nazem Kadri – Tyler Bozak – Colby Armstrong.
- The Leafs also appear to be icing the Marlies likely top line for this season, consisting of Joey Crabb – Joe Colborne – Matt Frattin.
- Kenny Ryan‘s appearance on the fourth line tonight likely means he’s considered for AHL duty this season, as he is eligible. It also speaks of how highly the organization regards him. He’s an excellent checker and should do well tonight.
- Philippe Dupuis gets his first chance to impress as he’s anchoring the fourth line tonight.
- Leafs (likely) top pairing of Dion Phaneuf and Keith Aulie get the call tonight, will probably see tons of minutes.
- Jake Gardiner and John-Michael Liles? Interesting combination of speed, skill and offense here.
- Jonas Gustavsson and Ben Scrivens will split time tonight, with Gustavsson getting the initial nod.
Alex Auld, Robin Lehner, Craig Anderson.
Jared Cowen, David Rundblad, Filip Kuba, Tim Conboy, Patrick Wiercioch, Eric Gryba, Erik Karlsson, Mark Borowiecki.
Milan Michalek (LW), Peter Regin (LW), Colin Greening (LW), Zack Smith (C), Bobby Butler (RW), Nikita Filatov (LW), Stephane Da Costa (C), Chris Neil (RW), Mark Parrish (RW), Zenon Konopka (C), Francis Lessard (RW), Mark Stone (RW), Mike Hoffman (LW), Nick Foligno (LW), Mika Zibanejad (C).
This one should be a dandy folks, make sure you tune in to LeafsTV for this one tonight (or by radio!).
The Leafs are changing up their alternate jersey for the upcoming season. If you haven’t already heard, they’ll be using this gem as an alternate. This comes via icethetics.
What are your thoughts on the Luke Schenn extension? You should vote in the latest poll.
May 4th, 2004. That date can mean many different things to people; but for any die hard Toronto Maple Leafs fan like me, you’ll recognize that date as the last time the Leafs saw playoff action. It was game 6 in the conference semi-finals against the Flyers where they lost 3-2 off Jeremy Roenick’s GWG to put away the series. Since then I’m sure many suffering fans have developed distaste for the Flyers, I know I have. But that’s all in the past; it’s time to look ahead to the future which looks very promising.
This year’s free agency class hasn’t created much of a “frenzy” for the Toronto Maple Leafs. It’s safe to say that the Brad Richards situation put a damper on the Leafs’ hopes of acquiring a top line centre. Despite all this, the Maple Leafs and fans have a lot to look forward to this coming season. Arguably the biggest name the Leafs have signed this off-season is Tim Connolly. The 30-year-old had 13 goals and 29 assists in 68 games last season with the Buffalo Sabres. Connolly will add some jump to the top 6 forwards, and he has the potential to be a 70-point or more player, provided that he stays healthy. He will be contending with Tyler Bozak and Mikhail Grabovski to centre the top line of Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul. Mathew Lombardi is also in the mix for the top centre position, if and only if he is healthy enough for action. Nazem Kadri will most likely be moved into a winger position, which will suit his style of play a lot better. Kadri has the skill, but the size factor is his biggest issue. If he wants to have an impact on this time, he’s going to have to train hard so he can provide more “truculence” along with his finesse.
Brian Burke also locked up three of their solid grinders Mike Zigomanis, Darryl Boyce, and Joey Crabb to one-year contracts. Along with the acquisition of Philippe Dupuis, the Maple Leafs will have all the force necessary from their forwards. And who can forget Colton Orr? Expect to see a lot of offense this season. The forwards are developing quite nicely within the organization. Joe Colborne and Tyler Biggs are just two names for fans to get excited about.
With the average height of 6’3, the Maple Leafs’ defense will hopefully live up to the expectations they’ve had on their shoulders for the past two seasons. Look for Luke Schenn to continue his strong and dominate play on the Leafs’ blue line from last season. With any luck, John-Michael Liles will do what he was brought here to do, which is fill in the hole of puck-moving defenceman Tomas Kaberle. Brett Lebda was the closest thing the Leafs had to Kaberle during the second half of the season; that isn’t a good thing. Miraculously Burke was able to pull a rabbit out of the hat and actually acquire something decent for him in Cody Franson and Matthew Lombardi. Many fans including myself have been less than impressed with the performance of Mike Komisarek, former all-star defenceman for the Montréal Canadiens. If his dreadful play continues, it is likely that Burke will pool him in a trade for another asset that he may have his eye on. And let’s not forget about Optimus Reim, the Maple Leafs’ number one goalie James Reimer. The 23-year-old from Morweena, MB, had a 20-10-5 record, with .921 SV% and a 2.60 GAA; not bad for a kid buried within the system. He is an outstanding athlete and human being, who this year will give the Leafs some much needed support in goal.
May 4th, 2004. Given some of the additions Brian Burke has made combined with the development of the young players in the system, that date will likely be changed to mid/ late April of 2012 when the playoffs begin. The Maple Leafs are a solid young team and should definitely make the post-season this year.
- Michael Cappabianca
With the calender reaching August, the 2011-12 season is right around the corner. It seems Brian Burke is done signing free agents, due to the abundance of forwards and defense. Tons of questions still remain on the Toronto Maple Leafs. But here are a few thoughts and opinions on their upcoming season.
1.I feel that Komisarek and possibly Bozak will be dealt this season for a prospect or a mid round pick. Possibly packaged together, or separately in bigger deals.
2.Frattin will out play Kadri in preseason and will take his spot in the line-up. Kadri will start the season with the Toronto Marlies, and will build chemistry with Colborne. Is it a good thing? I say yes. Kadri should be top 6 or AHL bound this season. Putting him on the third line is going to hurt his development.
3.During pre-season, Ron Wilson should put Kulemin on a line with Phil Kessel and Tim Connolly, and put Lupul with Grabovski, and Macarthur. With Kulemin’s strong board play, and his great defensive play; him and Connolly would really help that line defensively and offensively.
4.Cody Franson won’t live up to the high expectations many Leaf fans are already putting on him. Unfortunately, many Leaf fans only see his size, offensive capabilities, and age, and think he will be a stud. Playing on a great defensive team, Franson wasn’t that good in his own end, and using a better choice of words than Bill Watters– Franson is “soft”.
5.If the rumours of Phil Kessel training with Gary Roberts are true; And with the addition of Tim Connolly–who is known to be a play making centre; Kessel will score 40 goals this season.
6.With the additions of Greg Cronin and Scott Gordon to the coaching staff, and a few new additions to the Leafs line-up; The Leafs power play will rank around 15th in the league.
7.Dion Phaneuf will return to his old self. With the additions of Connolly and John-Michael Liles, Dion Phaneuf will improve this season, and will get most of his points on the power play.
8.Mathew Lombardi won’t be healthy enough to start the season in October. He will play his first game as a Maple Leafs late November or Early December.
9.James Reimer won’t be as good as he was last season. But he is still going to be a steady goalie this season. His attitude will help him get out of funks, and won’t allow him to go into a sophomore slump.
10.If the Leafs aren’t over .500 in the first 3 games, the famous “Fire Ron Wilson” line will come back more than ever.
11.If Lombardi is indeed healthy, there will be no need to panic if Tim Connolly goes down with an injury. In the 09-10 season, Lombardi was able to put up 53 points in 78 games with the Phoenix Coyotes, registering 19 goals and 34 assists.
12.If he is still a Maple Leaf this season—Tyler Bozak will be an effective third line centre with Colby Armstrong. The 2 have shown chemistry in the past, and have been very effective on the penalty kill.
13.Luke Schenn will be re-signed in the next 2 weeks. Don Meehan—the agent of Luke Schenn; has publicly stated Schenn’s contract will be an “August issue”.
14.Brian Burke will get a first line centre sometime this season. Burke knows the Leafs desperately need a true number 1 centre, and he will work harder than ever to acquire one.
15.If the Leafs get out to a steady start, and don’t go on 5 game losing streaks like before, they will make the playoffs.