If the Leafs wanted to mimic a team's success, it would probably be that of the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Pens built their team around a superstar. Then more superstars. And even more superstars. There were a few surprises, but for the most part Crosby, Malkin, Staal and Fleury. Add Brooks Orpik, Kris Letang, Ryan Whitney and Pascal Dupuis to veterans Darryl Sydor, Sergei Gonchar and Petr Sykora and you've got yourself a nice breath of fresh air in the city that Hockey almost forgot.
Now the team built on Mario Lemieux's pocketbook lost out on keeping Marian Hossa in town, but replaced him with a couple of players that have the ability to make a difference. Miro Satan, Ruslan Fedotenko and Matt Cooke have all been brought in for that reason.
Although Roberts, Laraque and Ruutu are all gone, the biggest loss in town if that of Ryan Malone. He will likely be missed the most as not only could he score but he could also punch and hit. And although Max Talbot will instigate, Eric Goddard will intimidate, Hal Gill will swing his big stick, there's not really anyone with Malone's size to stand in front of the net and jam at the puck.
Leaf fans will get their first picture of this team tonight. They will also get a shot to see some new faces in the Leafs uniform. Mikhail Grabovski, Nik Hagman, Jamal Mayers and Dale Mitchell will all play for the first time. Tune in tonight as the lineup of Grabovski-Antropov-Ponikarovski will line up against the best Penguins. Luke Schenn will be back on the ice and Justin Pogge will mind the net for the entire 60 minutes.