I had a good vacation out to Colorado, only to come home to my laptop being fruity and not wanting to work, but it’s going now and it’s time for a blog. I apologize for the absence, but lets get down to business.
The Leafs are coming a fresh 5-4 victory, beating the Montreal Canadiens.
This recent win has helped push the Leafs within six points of the final playoff position, held by the Carolina Hurricanes. Sitting in 10th place, the Leafs are really looking to surge in the next few weeks to push them back to the playoffs, a goal that hasn’t been reached in quite a while.
Phil Kessel was a big game player last game against the Habs, scoring two goals and two assists in the win.
Kessel looked like the player that was traded for two firsts and a second two seasons ago. Dominant on the ice, controlling the play and really dictating what he wanted done. A great game and a confidence booster for ‘The Thrill’.
James Riemer continues his winning way, winning back to back games over the Habs and the New York Islanders. The recent victories has pushed Optimus Riem’s win total to ten on the year, one win behind J.S. Giguere for the Leaf’s leaders.
If the Leafs can make a final surge to the playoffs, Riemer will be key in doing so. He’s been the Leafs leader this year in net and will have to continue to be if the Leafs want any shot at the post season, which for the first time in a long time, they have a chance.
With the Leafs just six points back, the closest they have been to a playoff spot for a while. It gives fans hope, which surely we all need. With the season’s we’ve seen the past five+ years, a team that is starting to win games.
Big named players in Kessel, Phanuef, MacArthur, Schenn and Mikhail Grabovski all need to amp up their game even more than they have this season in order for Toronto to have a chance at the post season.
With career years for King MacArthur and our Belorussian sniper, they need to keep their play up to satisfactory conditions. Obviously they wont be scoring every night, but they need to keep creating chances for those around them while they fight to post points as well.
Kessel needs to continue having games like he did against the Habs. Not saying he has to notch four points every night, but consistency is key in the league and Phil lacks it. He needs to really level out his game, giving a consistent effort night in and night out. Create chances in front of the net, use his speed and quick release to score and create rebounds, but more than that, he has to use his speed to get back on the back check, not only be a good offensive player, but play well defensively and don’t be a liability to his club.
The captain needs to start producing offensively, he needs to start chipping in the timely goal and continue to rack up assists. With only two goals and 16 points on the year, Phanuef has dropped off heavily from his 50-60 point days in Calgary.
Now while I’m not saying he needs to start posting those numbers again for the Leafs to succeed, but he does need to be able to hit around 25-35 points a year to add the offense from the defense.
He’s been quite solid on the back end this season, so if he can adapt to start putting up points again while staying defensively responsible, the Leafs will finally start seeing the defensemen they traded for.
Schenn is having a very solid year. On pace to surpass his career high of 17 points this season, if he can continue to play the strong shut down hockey that he is relied upon for, the Leafs will continue to reap the benifits of drafting the young defensemen early in the 2008 NHL entry draft.
It’s going to be an interesting race to get to the playoffs, but the Leafs still have a chance to make it there and could very well end up sniffing at games past the regular season this year, but it’s going to take some work to get there.