Yeah, I know your all thinking another leaf line blog, but its summer I need something to do.
PK is still an issue that Toronto will need to see addressed.
Line 1: Blake will start off the season with sundin, Both Blake and Tucker can play gritty hockey, and really get under the skin of opposing defensemen. Blake will shine in this position as a goal scorer, and tucker can really grab those garbage goals and is always ready for that signature cross crease pass. He’ll easily rack up quite a number of goals himself, as its hard to cover blake and sundin alone. People will criticize putting him so high up for his poor defense ability, but I’d rather have him out there with players who I know tend to spend more time in the opponents end than our own.
Line 2: Wellwood being the center here is a no brainer. I’ve seen tons of leaf fans putting Steen on the first, the issue with this remains his age and maturity, Steen is not ready yet for first line minutes (not to say he might not be by the end of the season) He’ll have to gradually make it up there same as wellwood. Both of them I found had good chemistry last year as well. Bell will provide some forechecking and toughness for this otherwise physically weak line. As Maurice said there’s a big difference going out to face the 3rd pairing and the top 2 defence pairings. Bell has also shown some scoring ability in the past, and can thrive in this position I believe.
Line 3: Wow.. I really didn’t want to drop poni and antro this far, but compared to the rest I just can’t justify placing them much higher. Stajan will center the line of the twin towers, who have chemistry themselves, but all last season they seemed to be a product of sundin’s play. I’m hesitant to see how they would do with Stajan instead, but I think if they can develop some chemistry this line is a very dangerous third line. The big size of poni and antropov will also now be facing the lower defense pairings of the other teams, I think which will not victimize them as much because of their slower skating ability.
Line 4: Williams will crack this team, I believe, and Pohl and Kilger still deserve spots. Not a very tough line 4, but hopefully can provide some spark with pretty good skating between them. Look for toronto to ice a mostly 3 line team most of the season.
Defence: I don’t think too much explanation is needed here, the top four are really 1, 1A pairings. I don’t want to place white this low, but He’ll get PP time next year.
PP1 : The big line reunites on the PP, similar pp to last season, it worked well then, antropov or tucker I still can’t make up my mind both have their assets. Mccabe I think will have a much better year as well.
PP2: for the first time in years, we have a fairly dangerous second PP unit, all last season I always dreaded them coming on because I thought it would be another wasted opportunity, now I have much higher expectations.
Also I’ve disagreed with the signing of Peca before, but I can understand why for a reasonable price it can and should be done. Lately, I’ve begun to see posts of leaf fans asking that since phoenix got a goalie is raycroft not being moved cause JFJ wasn’t at the office. This is a game, it’s a job to him same way most of you may work 9-5, the passing of his father was a truly sad event, and in such a time we as fans should be offering our condolences, not questioning whether we missed a deal cause he wasn’t at the office? Afterall, this is just a game as much as we love it. It's a moot point anyway, if raycroft were to be moved it would either be A)after teams needing a goalie see how emery’s arbitration goes, or more likely B) After he regains some market value this year, and we can be sure toskala can play more than 40 games a season.
Quick NE predictions
1)Ottawa –no significant changes (unless emery arbitration goes seriously wrong), and will prob be out of the gate faster this year sans gerber blowing games
2) Buffalo – lot of leaf fans think we can take this place, buffalo I think thrives in the underdog place, and they have Miller.. but I think the leafs and buffalo will finish points of each other
3) Leafs- Much better team than last year, defence as a team system still lacking and pk needs help, but playoff bound in my mind
4) Montreal – they are going to miss souray’s points, but look for their goaltending to keep them in games, again will fight for the playoffs I think just missing it
5) Boston – Manny will help.. but not that much..
Hope you all enjoyed the read!