I’m baaaack. Finally, after two weeks of no cable and no internet, and streaming Leaf games on my phone (thank god for my Thunderbolt – you’d be surprised at how good the quality of the stream was), I’m back in business. And, predictably, I’ve got a lot to say about the Leafs and their impressive, yet not exactly reassuring 5-2-1 start. I’m going to spend some time in the next week or so going a little deeper into a bunch of the topics I touch on here, so stay tuned.
First of all, you can’t deny it’s a damn good feeling when you pull up NHL.com, and see Phil Kessel on top of the goals and points leaderboard, Dion Phaneuf leading all players in +/-, and the Leafs leading their division. (Seeing the Habs down there at the bottom doesn’t hurt, either). Obviously, like Clarke MacArthur’s goal-a-game pace to start last season, it’s highly unlikely that Kessel maintains his current pace and finishes the season with the 92 goals and 154 points he’s currently on pace for. Still, it’s comforting to see our star players finally beginning to live up to those expectations. Phaneuf looks more and more like the defenseman that took the league by storm a few years ago, and Kessel’s game has been much more complete.
On to the goaltending. I know we’d all love to lay all the blame for the losses in Boston and Philly at the feet of Jonas Gustavsson, and he wasn’t exactly in fine form against the defending Cup champs. However, anyone who thinks about blaming him for the loss in Philly is an idiot. Any time you give one of the best goal scorers in NHL history not one, not two, but three breakaways in a single game, it’s going to come back to bite you. The Monster played a hell of a game, and if the Leafs had been able to keep up the pace they set in the first and the opening 10 minutes of the second, they probably would have ended up with a better result.
That said, it’s good to hear that Ben Scrivens has been sent back to the Marlies. James Reimer apparently suffered the same whiplash-like symptoms that affected him last season in Atlanta, but will apparently be back in the lineup for tomorrow’s game against the Rangers. Whether or not that means he’ll be behind the bench or between the pipes, I don’t exactly know. The one thing’s that for sure is that the team plays better in front of him than they do in front of Gustavsson – I believe they average 3 goals in front of Reimer and just 2 when Gustavsson is in net. A few more efforts like the one he turned in in Philadelphia should help the team build some confidence with him in net, as well as help his own confidence.
Tim Connolly and Tyler Bozak are both also due back from injury tomorrow, which makes the Leafs’ situation up front that much more interesting. No announcements have been made yet as to who will be sent down to the Marlies, but Nazem Kadri has to be the likely candidate. Matt Frattin has looked good, but that might not be enough to keep him up either with a full roster of NHL forwards. Tomorrow should be an interesting day as far as roster moves go, and it will be even more intriguing to see where Connolly gets slotted in, if he truly is healthy.
Anyways, I’m glad to be back, and I’m looking forward to seeing the Leafs over the next few weeks. Some tough games coming up that will give us a better idea of what exactly this team is made of. In the meantime, nothing to do but enjoy the ride. Go Leafs!
As always, you can follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/editorinleaf