With the Toronto Maple Leafs overtime win last night against the Dallas Stars (who themselves aren’t blazing a trail to the Stanley Cup party either), just shows us all what maybe is happening with our struggling Leafs.
Looking past all the stats and numbers I truly believe some players who performed very well last year are not playing at the same level.
Players who aren’t stepping up and for a the lack of a better word, are actually stepping back are defensemen Mark Fraser, Cody Franson and Paul Ranger plus forward David Clarkson. I have seen some better AHL players this year who could step right in now and perform better or at least with some more intensity then these four.
I hate using the injury word here especially for Fraser but if his knee still hurts then sit him down for a spell and let him fully recover. I keep seeing this giant of a man out on the ice about two strides back from everyone else, looking more like he is skating in sand then on ice!
As for Franson, again the injury bug has plagued him but he was so close last year to stepping into the ‘Elite’ category of defensemen, but now he looks like he’s taken a 360-degree turn in his development. Why?
Paul Ranger has been away from NHL hockey for three years and he is confirming it every game. Back to the Marlies he should go period and let John-Michael Liles come back to the main club and fit into the system. Liles could be also someone to take the Jake Gardiners and the Morgan Riellys of this team under his wing and show them how to be NHLers.
Don’t get me going here, wait too late…Dave Clarkson must start to get his nose dirty in front of the net and in the corners of the rink. The Leafs need Clarkson to be the Clarkson of old and start putting opponents on their behinds and the puck in the back of the net.
Now with all this ranting going on here there is one factor I must point out and that is Leafs Coach Randy Carlyle. I don’t see the trust or the faith he had put in others before as much as he did last year. My understanding as a coach you play your ‘Big Guys’ and play them hard. But should you continue to play them if they are not performing to their capabilities?
Maybe this is a question that needs to be ask by GM Dave Nonis soon or it might be too late.