Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Maple Leafs first term report cards

Well, I tried hard to hold off critiquing this team too much until the 20 game mark and here we are. Their record is 8-9-3 which places them 11th in their conference and just 2 points out of a playoff spot. Considering their recent 7 game losing streak they are fortunate to be that close although it also reflects the weakness of the Eastern Conference. It also means that they are not in a position for a lottery pick, or should I say the Bruins.

This is the youngest team in the NHL so I expect they will get better. In fact they should be better in March than they are right now. As well, there are just 8 players who were with the team at the start of last season so this lineup has yet to jell properly. Definitely a work in progress.

Here is how I grade the lineup:

Luke Schenn - best player on the team over the first 20 games
Tomas Kaberle - consistent moves the puck out of his end and has matched well with Schenn
Jonas Gustavsson - has been very solid in the few starts he has had

Clark MacArthur - fast start but as in the past has no cooled off, not very responsible in his end
Mikhail Grabovsky - very creative with the puck and also too casual with the puck
Phil Kessel - Coach wants him to be a more complete player and so far has not met that challenge
Nik Kulemin - slow start but has begun to use his size to get to the net, always works hard on his defensive game
Mike Brown - has used his body and fists well and been a good penalty killer
Fredrik Sjostrom - quick in both ends of the rink but too bad he can't be better at putting puck in the net


Kris Versteeg - has been a disappointment but recent demotion to 3rd line seems to have lifted a huge weight off his shoulders
Francois Beauchemin - takes too many chances in a game and loses too many of those gambles
Dion Phaneuf - has struggled to find his comfort zone
Colton Orr - seems to be picking his battles or perhaps opponents are getting harder to find
Carl Gunnarsson - definitely finding his sophomore year more of a challenge
J-S Giguere - been very ordinary and has given up a few "Toskala goals"


Tyler Bozak - too much pressure put on this inexperienced player but I expect him to get better
Mike Komisarek - has been awful, might be colour blind considering the number of passes that land on opposition sticks
Tim Brent - his early enthusiastic play seems to have evaporated
John Mitchell - no work ethic
Brett Lebda - looked better as a Red Wing

Nazem Kadri - great skill set but too early to judge
Colby Armstrong - only played 8 games but I thought he could play on a higher line
Keith Aulie - solid young player with a future in the NHL

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