There's no doubt that tonigth the Leafs looked great with the new additions. Let's take a look at each and then the future.
Fredrik Sjorstrom isn't supposed to be an offensive player, so an assist tonight on Kulemin's 11th of the season is a huge bonus. But the best thing about him jumping into the offensive side of the game is that it didn't hinder his defensive game at all. He was clearing pucks and blocking shots and doing exactly what he was brought in to do, and then some.
There has only been 1 goalie in the history of the Toronto Maple Leafs to post a shut-out in their debut. That of course was Eddy the Eagle. But there is now 2 with the great solid play of J.S. Giguere tonight. Making 30 saves is never easy, but having very few difficult saves doesn't hurt any. The Leafs played very well in front of him and he was able to see everything and stand in the net solidly.
Of course the cornerstone of the weekend blockbuster is Dion Phaneuf. He was brought in to hit and shoot and he made is presence known. He may not have ended up on the score sheet but he definitely had an impact on tonight's game. A fight in the first period is a great way to welcome yourself to a new team and new conference and to say "hey, look forward to more of this for a long time". He laid out a few bodies and blasted his cannon a few times as well.
We can't really leave out Phil Kessel in this talk since he is a new member and a center piece to the teams future. After having a slump of giant proportions he's caught fire yet again. He got another goal tonight giving him 18 on the season. As long as there isn't another slump I can see him reaching the 25 goal mark.
If we look at the future with these players it looks pretty good. J.S. Giguere will help Gustavsson in more ways than you can imagine. Just having Jonas sitting and watching Giggy will cause more of an improvement to his game than anything Vesa Toskala could do. And with JS here The Monster won't have to have the stress of carrying the team on his back anymore and can focus on adjusting to the NHL. If Sjorstrom can continue his defensive shut down game he'll help out a ton on letting in fewer goals, which we desperately need. And if Dion can continue to lay out bodies and fire his cannon he'll help out goals against and our goals for.
There is one thing that concerns me however. During the 1st intermission an analyst was saying that with Dion here now there's no room for Kabele. Of course he means in terms of salary since the back end of the Leafs alone will have around 24 million dollars to account for next year. But if Burke has to get rid of someone Tomas Kaberle would be the last one I want him to get rid of. There's nobody we could get with the blue line passing on the power play ability as Tomas Kaberle. There's nobody with the stretch outlet passing ability as Tomas Kaberle. And there's nobody with the poise and composure as Tomas Kaberle. And with Ian White out of the picture, we need him to dish the puck to Phaneuf and Beauch on the power play. Brian Burke has said he will bury contracts in the minors if ha has to, and the best option is going to be to do that with Jeff Finger. It will save us 3.5 million dollars and leave us with a very good defensive core:
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