What the Leafs need to do!
It’s been a while since I’ve posted any messages on the site, and since I’ve become a Maple Leafs fan with the signing of Lindros this summer, I have some ideas that Toronto needs to in order to improve their team.
Let’s start off with Lindros. As big of a fan as I am of his, I am actually pretty suprised with his play thus far. I know the season and a half rest did him good, but I thought he would be a little rusty comin out of the gate, but he has played pretty spectacular.
My biggest problem right now with the Leafs is their line combinations. It’s pretty amazing that Lindros has been playing this good centering Domi and Kilger for all but one game. What is Pat Quinn thinking? I know he likes to roll 4 solid lines, but if Lindros was paired with more highly skilled players and stays healthy, he could probably end up with an 85-90, maybe even close to a 100 point season in this new NHL.
Something has to be done with the lines if this team is going to make the playoffs. Just like in New York Lindros was productive when paired with Fluery and York, but struggled when paired with the likes of Barnaby and other 3rd and 4th liners. Even though he has 8 goals in the first 10 games, Lindros is still more of a playmaker and can help the Leafs score and win more if he’s with better players.
Which brings me to the rest of the Leafs. At first I was disappointed with Allison, but then he really had a great strecth of games where he played well, but once again I’m not sure he should be treated as a 1st line center. Although Tucker-Allison-O’Neill have had a few good games, they are playing terrible defensive hockey and thanks to the Atlanta game a couple weeks ago their stats are inflated. Even though all three are around a point-per-game average, they are getting most of these on the power-play (as Quinn has them out there for at least 1:30 of every PP), and as a line they are a combined -18!!
So what’s my solution? Switch the lines up Mr. Quinn. Alex Steen has been damn impressive so far as have Stajan and Wellwood. Even Ponikarovsky has been forchecking like an animal and playing pretty good. These are the young youth and talent that need to get more ice time and give the Leafs that spark that other teams are ready for. From watching all of the games so far it it has been Lindros, McCabe-Kaberle, good goaltending, and the aforementioned young guns who have really carried the team night in and night out. Without the powerplay the 1st line really hasn’t shown me much.
As far as the defense goes, McCabe and Kaberle are already two of the top defenseman in the East and in the NHL outright. Everynight they bring explosiveness and the ability to move the puck up the ice and be game changers. Obviously they have also been a big part of the powerplay as well doing an excellent job of quarterbacking. Even though they are prone to some defensive mistakes once in a while, that is just a product of their agresssive style, they are both rocks on the blueline.
However, it is clear that the Leafs need and absolutely NEED at least one more or even two more quality defenseman. McCabe and Kaberle are going to have to play close to 30 mins a game, but when the Leafs are at the Corel Centre and Alfreddson-Spezza-Heatley jump on the ice against Belak and Berg we’ve already seen the consequences of that mismatch. So perhaps trading Antropov or one of the youngsters will be necessary in order to pick up a quality blueliner, but the Leafs should already be getting Coliocavo and Wozniewski into the lineup everynight.
So let’s give Lindros better linemates, decrease the 1st lines powerplay time, let the young kids step up, and either pick up a defenseman, or let the two youngsters fill the void. This is the only way the Leafs will make the playoffs.