Get ready for a lot more of these as the preseason progresses into the season. Wilson's stressing the guys getting into lanes like never before, it will be a while before they get comfortable with it and generally poor deflections come with the territory of heavy shot blocking. In the end the results will be worth it, but in the meantime we're going to be putting our heads in our hands quite a bit.
John Mitchell's played his way into a #1a call-up role in my opinion, and good for him as he had a great playoff with the Marlies. I don't think he's good enough to crack the roster full time as we have a glut of forwards, but if he doesn't earn a call at some point this season I'll eat my hat.
Earl looks like he's trying to do too much with the puck out there, his speed and shot look great but generally when he's on the ice he's a turnover machine. It's a shame, hopefully he'll put together a healthy season in the AHL and return with a cooler head.
Williams... still sucks. It's a shame, but his game's got too many holes right now. Like Earl, hopefully he'll play a full season and pull it together.
Pogge looks good, but he's not ready yet. I really doubt we'll be moving Toskala this year, Pogge needs to play a lot of games and calm down in his crease.
Is an ass-kicker, he looks fairly comfortable on the ice and turned out to be a scoring sensay-schenn! *collective groaning* He needs time to adjust to the speed of the game, he's been burned taking too long to make decisions with the puck several times so far and he's had difficulty on the PK. Bright future for the kid, I have to agree with Cliff's decision to get us a steady blueliner to start off our new core.
Grabovsky needs to realise that just because he can stickhandle well doesn't mean he should in most situations. The Antro-Grabs-Kulemin line shows promise, Kulemin and Grabs both need to learn to find open ice better. Kulemin's still skirting the line between 3rd line grinder and 2nd line scorer, hell of a shot but his overall play in the zone needs work. Hagman looked like he was trying to force scoring chances and shots last game, trying to live up to his 27 goal billing perhaps? (maybe we have a new Jason Blake?) Dominic Moore is an ass-kicker, I was hoping Mayers would basically be a Moore clone but it's obvious his hands are a little bit stiffer. If we can play a good trap then we've got the scoring to win a few games, but all the facets of the team probably won't come together until January at the earliest.
Ian White: Offensive(ly bad) defenseman
I've had long arguments with mf37 about this guy lately, and his goal last night doesn't make me think any better of him.
To sum up, he was third most in shots on our team last year and played the fourth most minutes among defensemen on the Leafs, and is often referred to as an "offensive defenseman". However, he's averaged a 3.3 shooting percentage on the team while taking roughly 120 shots per full season. Those are Hal Gill like numbers in terms of shots. White also only had half or less of the assists of the other shooting leaders on D, showing me that his shots are also not directly leading to scoring opportunities, considering his trouble putting the puck in the net himself. He missed 55 shots, almost a full third of his total, just two misses less than Kubina (who took 20 more shots total). Offensive? Really? His contribution to our offense isn't exactly irreplaceable.
He's also a mediocre skater, anyone who says he skates well has been paid by him. Check out Crosby's breakaway goal, both he and Kubina get toasted but it's Kubina who actually gets a few steps in and tries to make a play on Crosby. How the hell is Pavel Kubina a better skater than White?
He plays physically in our zone but he's really too small to deal with NHL size power forwards, he looks like a child out there some nights, and his physical play rarely leads to a change in possession.
White makes a decent pass, but the other facets of his game lack considerably. He brings it every night, and rarely gets injured, which is another plus. Personally I don't believe we can up his value enough to get a return for him in a trade, on a supposedly low-scoring team he's never going to put enough points up, and defensively he's played like a 6th or 7th guy for years now. If anything, the reason we should be keeping White is to fill a hole once we pump and dump someone else.
Game Preview - Toronto Maple Leafs at Tampa Bay Lightning - The Leafs make stop #2 on their spring break road trip. 7 years ago this week I was basking in the sunny skies of Tampa Bay myself. The Leafs were in to...
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