Toronto Maple Leafs: Analyzing The Pre-Season Results

September 28th, 2010 1 Comment

The Toronto Maple Leafs iced a very strong lineup last night, leading to a 5-4 victory over the Buffalo Sabres, who did not play all-star goaltender, Ryan Miller.

With the victory over the Sabres the Maple Leafs now own a record of 3-2-1 in the pre-season, good enough for second overall in the Eastern Conference.

Having finished amongst the League’s worst in just about every conceivable category during the 2009-10 season Maple Leafs fans are encouraged by the Leafs goals for (12th overall), goals against average (first overall) and power play, which ranks 15th overall.

Between the pipes Jonas “The Monster” Gustavsson has received the bulk of the workload, playing in a total of four games, registering a record of 1-2 to go along with his lofty 3.53 goals against average and .907 save percentage.

With NHL pre-season rosters lighting the lamp at a fast and furious pace it’s very tough to get a handle on just how good the likes of Gustavsson and J.S. Giguere (who has played in just one match thus far) have been. The good news, neither one of these goaltenders has resembled Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price, and that’s a good thing!

Offensively, Phil Kessel (who leads the team with 17 shots on goal) continues to find the back of the net at light-speed, posting four goals in four games, which ties him with Nikolai Kulemin for the team and League lead.

Kris Versteeg has come as advertised, playing a brand of hockey that mixes his tenacity with offensive flare, scoring once and adding four assists in four games to lead the Maple Leafs in points with five, which also ties him for second overall in the League.

Clarke MacArthur has been a nice surprise, registering four assists in four starts and looking very good defensively.

Mikhail Grabovski has just three shots in four games, something he will have to work on if he wants to remain the Maple Leafs second line centre. Ok, who are we kidding here, the job is his, but it would be nice if he shot the puck more!

Tyler Bozak continues to shine, developing great chemistry with Kessel and Versteeg and demonstrating a keen hockey sense.

Luca Caputi (-2) and Colby Armstrong (-4) have struggled a bit defensively, but as I mentioned earlier, the pre-season is kinda like the all-star game when it comes to keeping goals out of the nets.

Armstrong has registered a power play marker, which amounts to something, I suppose.

The biggest disappointment has come from Nazem Kadri, who, while decent, has yet to demonstrate that he belongs at the NHL level.

On defense, team captain Dion Phaneuf has led the way, registering 13 shots (the most amongst defensemen) scoring once and adding three assists for a total of four points.

Francois Beauchemin has been solid, posting an even plus/minus rating and two assists, while Tomas Kaberle has been solid as well.

Jesse Blacker has shown moments of brilliance out there, but his minus-4 plus/minus rating is a bit alarming.

Hulking defenseman Mike Komisarek has been very physical thus far, demonstrating that he is back from last years injuries and looks to be ready to throw his massive body around on opposing forwards.

Another plus has been the play of third-year defenseman Luke Schenn. Overall we haven’t noticed his play too much, which is what you want from your stay-at-home defensemen.

Disappointments? Carl “Uzi” Gunnarsson has been mediocre, registering zero points on five shots and a minus-3 rating to boot.

Overall, it has been a fairly successful pre-season for the Maple Leafs with the positives outweighing the negatives.

That said, it is, after all, the pre-season, and as much as I’d like to believe that Phil Kessel and Kris Versteeg will be amongst the NHL’s top five point getters this season, they won’t be.

Clearly, while good thus far, the Maple Leafs (like many NHL teams at this stage) still have a long way to go before they will be ready to go full-boar on opening night against the Montreal Canadiens.

That said, given the subtle improvements on the power play and offensively, it looks as if the Leafs might just surprise a few teams.

Until next time,


1 Comment

  1. Abdulhakeem says:

    Hey Darren;I think it is great what you are trying to do! It would be a dream come true for me! I have been a Leaf fan from when I was an 8 year old boy. It was just after they won their last cup so obiusvoly I have a high pain tolerance. The only concern I have if this happens is having too many opinions about how to run things. I live in Windsor Ontario and I have observed how the Wings do things. To me they are a model organization. The reason they are is that they don’t have meddling ownership. Mike Illich knows he doesn’t have a clue how to manage a hockey team so he hires Holland to do it for him and leaves him alone. The problem with us is that we all think we are hockey experts and we think we know how to do Burke’s job for him. How will this work if our dream comes to fruition?

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