Hard to believe this team is last place in anything right now. With two players in the top 5 in league goals, +/- and points these Leafs are exceeding expectations as they overcome potentially crushing injuries.
After last night’s game in the swamp Phil “The Thrill” Kessel had 10 goals and 20 points in 12 games. To put that into perspective the second line of Grabo, C-mac and Kulemin despite after a slow start has been as hot as they come, combined for 11 goals and 20 points on the season. In other words, Kessel alone is producing at the pace of 3 fairly talented players.
Add into the mix a fully healed Joffery Lupul (8-6-14 for the Sniping Palindrome) along with the soft hands and amazing vision of the self-proclaimed out of shape Tim Connolly (1-3-4) and the reason behind this team’s success is pretty clear. After all, it is pretty hard to lose games when your entire top line is a point-per-game or better.
But can this pace be maintained? Surely Kessel will slow down at some point and injuries are to be expected for both Lupul and Connolly. What then?
I think it is safe to say that this team will not be able to rely on keeping the puck out of their own net. With what can be generously be described as a pathetic PK and a PP that rarely establishes offensive zone pressure there will be trouble ahead for these guys. That is what will make or break this team as the year progresses. In the NHL no team has a chance of success with a 30th ranked PK, plain and simple unless you run one of the best PP in the league.
These Leafs do not.
The imminent return of Reimer may help the PK somewhat, but the Monster is not why the numbers are so appallingly bad. At some point these shorthanded units will need to do the small things right like covering the likes of Jagr, Elias and Malkin when they are on the ice.
This may come as a shocker to the Boy in Blue but leaving potential all-stars unattended in your own zone is like jumping over a bonfire, eventually you will get burned, and when you do, man do you look stupid.