Words have been failing me lately. How do you speak of a team like the Leafs right now? On paper something along the lines of “Holy Moley” or “Gee Willikers!” seems appropriate. Just check the League Leaders stats on NHL.com.
Go ahead, I will wait, just take a quick look.
Holy shit, eh? A lot of blue up top and the most telling is Phil The Thrill Kessel with a sizeable lead in points and goals. Suck on that Seguin.
Prime Time Dion Phaneuf leads the way in +/- followed closely by Phil the Thrill and Joffrey Lupul. Even James Reimer in his first season as an undisputed starter, while not stellar, is still high in wins and tied for first in shutouts.
Leafs dominating the leaderboards, sure has been awhile. But those numbers may be misleading. Don’t get me wrong, getting 9/10 points in your season opening homestand is a huge success for any team, but it isn’t as thought the Leafs have played NHL powerhouses. On top of that, the leafs have not been in control of the past three wins. In all games the Leafs have ended up trailing projected bottom feeders before turning on the afterburners when it seemed too late.
Case and point last night where the middle 30 minutes were completely dominated by a terrible Jets team. The most troubling was ineptitude on display every time the C-mac, Grabo, Kulemin line enter the building. I found myself wondering midway through the second if they had cut out early to get to Boston ahead of the rush. The heart, work ethic and hunger that followed them everywhere last season has been missing since the preseason.
And just to pile on special teams have truly not lived up to their name. There is nothing special about this static powerplay. Liles on the point would make Samuel Morse proud by the way he telegraphs every single pass. No feet are moving short of a five foot shift to the side. But as bad as the powerplay has been it’s a thousand times better than the penalty kill which well on the way to the bottom of the league with a dazzling 77% efficiency, good for 25th.
These can still be worked out, after all there is a great foundation to build from and still without a regulation loss there is some room for error. You gotta Beleaf.