A New Leaf Turned.
The new Toronto Maple Leafs seem to be on a warpath and their objective is to end this playoff drought. Now its still only October and there is still plenty of hockey to be played but the stats show that only 18% of teams who are in the bottom 8 move up into a playoff position by April so its looking pretty good for us Maple Leaf fans but who should get the praises? My props go out to a few people….
1. David Steckel – Seriously, this guy is turning into Toronto’s version of Kris Draper only we paid more for Steckel than Detroit did for Draper. But the price was still very low for what this guy does. As long as Steckel stays healthy and continues to win face offs and kill on the PK were poised to be a team on the verge of the playoffs.
2. Dion Phaneuf – There is no other way to describe Dion’s play without using some form a slang. I mean the one phrase that comes to mind is “he turned the Beast Mode switch on.” He is acting like the old Dion Phaneuf that got him the nomination for the Calder only now he understands the defensive side of the game as well making him that much more dangerous when hes out on the ice. Add in the new look on D Toronto has with a great deal of PMD and better offensive forwards you get a Norris calibre Phaneuf.
3. Carl Gunnarsson – When you talk about Phaneuf amazing play you can’t forget about Gunnarsson. I mean for all Phaneufs great play he is only able to play this way due to a reliable two way defender. Gunnarsson is doing what he does best, covering peoples asses and not getting the credit he deserves. At first when people heard Gunnar was playing on top pairing with Phaneuf the thought was that he was being showcased but honestly it is seeming more like its because he is exactly what Phaneuf needed. If Carl gets moved it better be for a Top 3 Forward or #1 Center!
4. Reimer/Gustavsson – Reimer came out of the gate with some phenomenal goal tending and when he went down I feared it was over for the leafs. But the monster is proving me wrong. After a shaky start he came back with some solid goal tending in Philly and against the Pens. I am not calling Gustavsson our saviour for the year but hes providing what we need, a reliable backup who can fill in when times are tough.
5. The Kessel Line- I wanted to give credit to Kessel but his linemates have been just as good. I mean Lupul has been meshing well with Kessel and be it Steckel, Lombardi, Bozack or even Connolly centering them they still seem to produce. These two players being on fire has been a big boost to the team and if they continue to produce at this level then we are in playoff contention.
Side Note: Two Boston First round draft picks are leading the Scoring in the NHL and AHL: NHL (Phil Kessel.) and AHL (Joe Colborne.) Just thought everyone should know.