Now that the Maple Leafs are much closer to where I thought they’d be…a game over .500….you can hear the massive thump as Leafs “fans”…go leaping off the early season bandwagon. Watch those busted ankles!!
Look…a thoroughly rotten start last season cost this team any shot at a post-season berth. They’ve turned it around…at least early…and the fact that they’ve returned to pretty much the level most hockey people thought they’d be at is not an indication that these will be the “same old Leafs”.
The final 3 or 4 playoff spots in the East will again be up for grabs this season…and there’s no reason to believe the Maple Leafs won’t be in that mix. They’re not going to win the Stanley Cup…but to hope for a playoff berth is not a stretch for Maple Leafs fans. Sure they’re showing signs of a lack of scoring depth…and offensive punch from the blueline…and the power play has yet to show any improvement from last season’s worst in the league status…but it doesn’t make them any potentially poorer than say Montreal….Atlanta….Carolina….the New York Rangers…Ottawa or any of the other teams I figure will battle for post-season action.
Who knows….they may even beat my beloved Canadiens to do it.
And speaking of the Habs….at least for now Carey Price is being given the respect he’s earned as their number one goalie. In fact…this club is nowhere near their 4-2-1 record if Price doesn’t come up with some monster performances in goal…even in at least one of the team’s losses.
And the news gets better with the report that number one defenceman Andrei Markov could be back in the lineup by the end of this week. That would make the Habs power play automatically better…and take some of the pressure off rookie blueliner P.K.Subban. Although why the Habs would be expecting a rookie to quarterback the power play…and take up some of Markov’s minutes is beyond me. Talent-wise Subban is the real deal…but he’s not ready to carry that load yet. Soon…but not yet.
To be honest…I don’t even see him as a Rookie-of-the-Year candidate. Not because he isn’t as talented as some of the other candidates…but because his situation is different in that especially with the return of Markov…Subban isn’t likely to get the power play time…as well as the game-to-game ice time that guys like Hall…Paajarvi and Eberle could get.
I don’t include Seguin on this list because I honestly believe that being with Boston…a team that is chock full of veterans and will contend for the Eastern Conference crown…I believe…Seguin also won’t get the kind of ice time he’d need to remain high-profile enough to stay up with the Edmonton troika. All three Oilers rookies are averaging more ice time per game than Seguin.
I have no trouble reminding people that it is still very early in the season…and things like injuries and slumps could change things drastically.
About the Author: Lifelong Montreal Canadiens fan...even though I was born and raised in Toronto. I wish the NHL had a balanced schedule because I would love to see more western teams come to Toronto. Would love to see Quebec City return to the NHL.