Spencer Abbott is having a very good season with the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League. Abbott is first in the league in assists (50) and third in points (66). With these kinds of numbers, you might be surprised to hear the 25-year-old right-winger has only been called up to play in one measly game for the Toronto Maple Leafs this season.
Kyle Cicerella wrote about Abbott’s role in the organization and whether or not he’s likely to see any time with the big club from now until the end of the season. Marlies head coach Steve Spott had this to say about it:
“He has,” Spott responded when asked if Abbott has done enough to earn another call-up. “But, the problem he has is- Kessel, van Riemsdyk, Lupul- those guys are playing so well it doesn’t allow him to jump into a top-six position.
“He’s not going up there to take Colton Orr’s job. He’s got to stay patient. If he’s going to get called up it’s to play offensively.”
Pardon me, but this is a load of crap. Of course Abbott isn’t going to take the job of Phil Kessel or James van Riemsdyk or Joffrey Lupul any time soon. Those guys are the best offensive players on the Leafs and aren’t going to be easily replaced by anybody else in the lineup, let alone a career minor leaguer.
The issue I have with this line of thinking is the notion that Abbott won’t be able to contribute to the team if he’s on the fourth or third line. Of course he will. At least give a talented hockey player some ice time to see what he can offer. At the very least, he’s going to give you more than Colton Orr and Frazer McLaren’s combined zero points in 74 games this year.
The only “role” those two players fill are as fighters, and that has nothing to do with actual hockey playing ability. You want to put as many actual hockey players in your lineup as possible, and those two don’t fit the description.
Speaking of actual hockey players, Lupul is having a bit of a down year compared to his past few seasons in the blue and white. It’s not really a surprise, considering he benefitted from a crazy high on-ice shooting percentage in a tiny sample of games last year.
As Hope In The Big Smoke writes, Lupul is still a very talented and useful hockey player, but he should never be mistaken for an All-Star.
James Mirtle of The Globe and Mail calculated that the likely cut-off for playoff teams is 92 points in the East and 93 in the West. To get to 92 points, the Leafs need to go 6-7 in their remaining games. Seems pretty doable. You can see how every other team in the league stacks up in Mirtle’s piece.
With 13 games left in the season, it’s about this time when we usually see the best teams in the league find that extra gear to get in the right mindset before the playoffs. A lot of people call this common practice “peaking”. Justin Bourne of theScore’s Backhand Shelf shares from his playing experience that this isn’t really peaking as much as it’s simply players starting to take the games more seriously.
One of my favourite practices in the sports world is when people make covers of popular songs using names of sports personalities. Harrison Mooney (and a couple of uber-talented friends) of Pass It To Bulis did this with Roberto Luongo and an Adele song, and the video is outstanding.