Now I realize a full blown taking apart of the team is never going to happen to the Toronto Maple Leafs but after a 5-2 win over Pittsburgh on Thursday night, a night when the key contributors were Alex Steen 3pts, Jiri Tlusty 2goals, and Nik Antropov 2pts the question has to be asked why not give these guys a bigger role on a nightly basis?
As much as we in Toronto love Mats Sundin the end is nearing....very quickly. He is off to his best start in his career, but how long will it last. It seems Mats gets off to a decent start every year before he either gets hurt or disappears come playoff push time. Darcy Tucker is hurt maybe for a significant stretch of the season depending on who you listen to and well the Leaf defense speaks for itself!
I know it's only been one game but Tlusty didn't look out of place at all Thursday night scoring two goals in his first NHL game. I will admit that the first one was luck as it tipped off his backside, but how many 500 goal scorers can say all of there goals were of pure skill with no luck required....my guess is zero. Why not put him out there and give him 15 to 20 minutes a game and let him prove himself? Nik Antropov is finally showing why he was a first round pick and I wouldn't say it's a coincidence that it's happened with an increased role and increased ice time. Alexander Steen, Mats Sundin, Alex Ponikarovsky......Jason Blake, Jiri Tlusty, Nik Antopov as your first two lines don't jump out at you at first but on a team that is barely a playoff contender if at all, why not?
As for the defense, I realize that McCabe, Kubina and Gill are basically untradable pieces but there is nothing that says you can't play them on the back end of the rotation or not at all. How about having Kaberle with Wozniewski and then maybe Coliacovo when he is healthy with Macabe and then finish it up with White and Kubina. I know McCabe and Kubina are still in there but in a lesser role which when it comes down to it maybe isn't such a bad thing. McCabe was at his best when he wasn't expected to be and Kubina was at his best when all that was expected was solid checking and being able to shut other teams down.
To close this team is not a cup contender and never will be as long as the Leafs keep relying on players to do things that they realisically can't. Playing the young players might not produce a ton of wins now, in fact the record might even get worse but wether you miss the playoffs by 2 points or 20 points you still miss the playoffs, you just get a better draft choice out of it which for the Leafs would only be a good thing, if they don't trade it away that is.
Devereaux, Kilger, Gamache, Battaglia, Pohl (pick three to make your last line)
(Gill, Harrison,Kronwall could be inserted in case of injury)
Toskala........make him the number one for crying out loud!!!!!!