Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Joe Colborne: Should he stay or go?

With Mikhail Grabovski returning from injury, the decision of what to do with Joe Colborne will have to be made soon.

The Leafs are currently loaded at centre with Tyler Bozak, Tim Connolly, Mikhail Grabovski, David Steckel and Philippe Dupuis all healthy.

Will the Maple Leafs send Colborne down to the Toronto Marlies, or could Grabovski be suited as a winger on the third line, bumping Joey Crabb to fourth line duties?

I think it is likely that Colborne will be sent down, but I would not be surprised to see him play one more game with the Maple Leafs—just to make sure Grabovski can get through a full few games.

Colborne should not be discouraged if sent down. He has played fantastic hockey, and with the injury bug still plaguing the Maple Leafs roster, there is always a chance that he could be brought up anytime.

In five games with the Maple Leafs, Colborne has recorded one goal and three assists for four points. Often criticized for his slow skating in college and lack of physical contact, both areas have been improved since his arrival to Toronto.

Although Colborne is in no way a speed burner, he isn't as slow as scouts have said.

Dallas Eakins has raved about Colborne and his dedication to the game—he also noted that Colborne has worked on his skating significantly throughout the offseason. That is one major reason he has elevated his game over the past year and a half.

If sent down to the Marlies, expect him to be put on a line with Nazem Kadri and Marcel Mueller, who are both averaging over a point per game. That line could be considered one of the best in the AHL.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Toronto vs Dallas Preview: Turkey Day Hangover Edition

The Toronto Maple Leafs will head into Dallas Friday night having won two of their last three games. Jonas Gustavsson is expected to get the start as he has surrendered two goals in his last two outings.

If Gustavsson can come up with timely saves and limit the number of questionable goals allowed, he could turn his season around. It is still too early to tell, as two good performances do not make up for a horrendous stretch of outings the past two seasons.

The Maple Leafs' power play has been on fire—currently ranked third overall in the NHL, they have converted close to 50 percent of their opportunities the past five games. If the Maple Leafs can continue to convert their power-play chances, that will go a long way to securing a win.

The key in Friday's game once again is scoring depth. In the Washington and Tampa Bay victories, all three lines scored, while the loss in Carolina saw only the first line produce goals. As of now, it comes down to consistency.

On defense, the Phaneuf/Gunnarsson pairing will likely be going head-to-head with Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson, as both are leading the Stars in points by a wide margin. If the Maple Leafs can keep both relatively quiet, chances of winning will skyrocket.

In net, Kari Lehtonen has been lights out, posting a 13-4-0 record. The Maple Leafs must create traffic and go to the net hard if they want success against Lehtonen.

With James Reimer set to return possibly Sunday night against Anaheim, or Wednesday night against the Bruins, picking up a few wins leading to his first start back would be huge for the team.

Friday, November 18, 2011


The injury situation for the Maples Leafs is dire. James Reimer, Mikhail Grabovski, Clarke MacArthur, Colby Armstrong, Matthew Lombardi and Mike Komisarek are all out for extended periods of time.

This is the true test of depth for the Maple Leafs. If they can stay a .500 for this next two week stretch, the Leafs could still be above .500 for the season, while welcoming back most of their roster.

These next few weeks will be a huge test.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Yesterday with the Leafs showed great character by winning against the St. Louis Blues in a shootout. In previous seasons, the Leafs would have lost that game. Rookie, Ben Scrivens, stole the show with 38 saves in a dazzling performance. He should be named starter for Saturdays game against the Sens.

Up next is the Hall of Fame game, as the Sens come to the ACC to take on the Leafs. If Toronto wants to show they are a different team from years past, they must come out with a W. Even though the Sens are struggling, the Leafs must not take them lightly as they always play them hard.

That is all for this time. I'll have a post-game blog up tomorrow night.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Taking the league by storm

The Maple Leafs did not record their 9th win of last season until December 4th. With their 4-1 win over the Blue Jackets yesterday night, they have acheived that by the beginning of November.

With that win, the Leafs are 1st overall in the NHL, and are the youngest team in the league as well. What is remarkable about their 9-3-1 start to the season is the fact they have done it with three goalies (Reimer, Gustavsson and Scrivens) and with the leagues last ranked power play.

Phil Kessel leads all forwards in goals, points and +/-, while linemat, Joffrey Lupul has took off as well. Lupul is 3rd in league scoring with 8 goals, and he recorded a natural hat-trick, Wednesday night against New Jersey.

With a winnable 6 gamed ahead, the Maple Leafs must take advantage of the weaker schedule. If they can win 20 or more games by Christmas, they will be in primed shape to make a run to the playoffs.

A key aspect to the Maple Leafs have been their depth. They can roll three scoring lines and attack using speed. Off the rush, the Maple Leafs are one of the best teams in the league. 5 on 5 they are a plus 13, which is crucial for teams in the playoff hunt.

If the Leafs can come out of October with 14-16 wins, they will be setting themselves up for success.

Here is to an interesting November.