Cornwall - Oct. 20, 2011 - When Brian Burke first looked at the 2011-12 NHL Schedule, he must have been very happy to see that the Toronto Maple Leafs started the season with a five game home stand. He must really be smiling this morning, after the boys in Blue and White garnered nine out of a possible ten points to start the season.
Dump and Chase
Burke’s trade for Phil Kessel has never bothered me and today we see that #81 is leading the National Hockey League in scoring. Kessel has seven goals and 12 points in his first five games. If he could keep this pace, he would score 115 goals and register 197 points. Those numbers would be close to the stats that Wayne Gretzky put up in the 1980’s. We all know that it is unlikely that he will keep this pace, but it sure is a great start.
Kessel finished the 2010-11 campaign on a ten game point scoring streak and has registered a point in each of his five games this year. He looks to extend the streak to 16 games tonight, when the Buds travel to Beantown to take on his former Bruins’ teammates.
Joffrey Lupul is on pace for a 100 point plus season, as is captain Dion Phaneuf. Again, I wouldn’t bet the farm on these three players maintaining this pace, but it is nice to have some positives again in Leafs Nation.
Jake Gardiner has impressed almost everyone with his strong play. Probably, the only exception is Cody Franson who has been a healthy scratch on a number of occasions. Watching the gaffs last night by Mike Komisarek, it wouldn’t surprise me if we see big #8 watching from the press box sometime soon. It is nice to have depth on the blueline in the case of injury. Also, it gives you a few pieces that you can package in a deal to address other needs.
It is rumoured that C Tim Connolly could make his Leaf debut on Saturday in Montreal. C Nazem Kadri was assigned to the AHL Toronto Marlies and will begin the season in the minors. Both Colby Armstrong and Clarke MacArthur were injured in last night’s shootout win over the Winnipeg Jets. MacArthur travelled with the team, while Armstrong remained in Toronto.
The next five games will be more difficult for the Leafs, with the next four in a row on the road. Tonight, the play the Boston Bruins and Saturday they are at the Bell Centre to take on the Montreal Canadiens. Monday night they travel to the City of Brotherly Love to take on the Philadelphia Flyers and on Thursday they head to the Big Apple to take on the New York Rangers. Next Saturday night, the Leafs are back home to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Here’s hoping that they Leafs can play .500 over the next five games and that would leave them 14 points in their first ten games.
Down on the Farm
The Toronto Marlies are also off to a good start, posting a 3-1 record. They sit on top of the AHL’s North Division. Their last game was a 4-0 victory over the Lake Erie Monsters on Sunday. Joey Crabb and Jerry D’Amigo each posted three points in the win and Jussi Rynnas posted the shutout. Crabb and Joe Colborne lead the Baby Buds with seven points each after four games. Adding Kadri to the mix can only help the offence. The Marlies are home to the Rochester Americans on Saturday afternoon in their next action.
Bag of Pucks
Jeff Carter of the Columbus Blue Jackets has been put on injured reserve for a broken bone in his foot. The same foot he had surgery on last year.
Erik Cole has been a disappointment thus far in Montreal, but in fairness many of his teammates have not met expectations either.
Rumour has it that Chris Nilan will be on Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday. Think Grapes will kiss him?
Soon enough, the banter will begin about the Phoenix Coyotes moving to Quebec.
Got to feel sorry for Sens fans these days. It is going to be a long year in the Nation’s Capital – something that is all too familiar for Leaf fans.
The Winnipeg Jets have a tough decision to make on Mark Scheifele. They have nine games to make up their mind whether he stays in the NHL or returns to the Barrie Colts and coach Dale Hawerchuk.
Philadelphia Flyers have recalled Brayden Schenn. Nice to see him get a shot – too bad he wasn’t getting that shot with his brother in TO.
Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur is out 7-10 days with an injured shoulder.