It’s game night in FLA…that brings me back to the immortal FLA hockey references in the movie Slapshot, which for the most part are not fit to print in a classy blog like Leafs Nation on PSB. If ever there was a time to step up and steal a couple of points it’s this swing through the sun-belt, hopefully with more than a few Canadian snow-birds going right from their early bird dinner over to the rink to cheer on the blue and white.
A lot of criticism over the weekend in the Toronto media was aimed at head coach Ron Wilson and his inability to take the Leafs to the next level. On the surface these points may have some validity, but if you peel away a couple of layers of ‘the onion’ it is not such a cut and dry scenario.
Brian Burke builds team from the net out. That’s goaltending, defence, team defence and then the scoring group. He has done an admirable (some may say overkill) job in amassing some legitimate NHL defencemen to the roster. The resurgence of Luke Schenn and his re-birth into a dominant shutdown defenceman has made more than one acquisition redundant in Leafland, and with the lack of scoring power this problem becomes all the more evident.
Many are calling the Leafs start a disappointment, however I firmly believe that is a bi-product of a 4-0 start, and even the mainstream media was getting all hot and bothered over a team they seemingly under-estimated heading into the 2010-11 campaign. Now those that live in glass houses have resumed throwing stones, and the notion of objective journalism turns into an attention grab for readers/viewers/listeners.
As currently constructed, this is a middle of the pack team. Hopefully some meaningful games will be played later this season, but without some more punch up front – figuratively, not literally – this team will be poised for future success.
Tonight’s tilt versus the Lightning is an example of a game the Leafs will need to rely on the strong ‘net out’ philosophy of the coaching staff and management. Steven Stamkos is turning the league on its ear this season, scoring at will throughout the early going. A team that prior to Steve Yzerman taking the helm focused more on the offensive side of the puck, the Lightning are finding a balance this year and showing signs of being a contender.
A great test – and victory for morale – if the Leafs can escape with a point tonight in the first game of a short roadie through the tax-less state of FLA.
A Tale of Two Tweeters:
GM meetings are underway in Toronto, and on the docket is an interesting subject of players tweeting during the season. I go both ways on this one…
Take the example of Mike Komisarek, who was quite vocal with his Twitter account prior to puck drop of 2010/11, but has gone quiet of late and focussed on the season at hand. A veteran move by a solid veteran leader. He is setting an example for his team mates by eliminating distractions and focussing on the team and the obstacles they must overcome together to be successful on the ice.
At the other end of the spectrum is sophomore Tyler Bozak. Just removed from being publicly called out by his coach after Saturday night’s loss to the struggling Sabres, and embroiled in his own troubles as the #1 centre in Toronto and early season sophomore slump, Bozak took to his Twitter account to announce the Bills/Bears NFL game at Rogers Centre, along with supplying a note of encouragement to an ailing friend. Certainly a worthy cause (the shout out to a friend, not the NFL public service announcement) but really the thing to be doing while you’re struggling to find your game? What does that say to your team mates/coaches/management about how seriously you are taking your role?
(My personal favourite Bozak tweet however was when he asked his followers to help him decide what he should be for Halloween…it took all my will power not to respond “1stline NHL centreman” to that one)
Writer’s Note: I firmly believe Bozak has the skill-set to be a fine NHL centre in a scoring role and just needs to find his groove again this year. All the more reason to focus solely on the ice and leave the other distractions at home.
Based on early season production up the middle for the Leafs this costume would have been a stretch for a couple guys…
At the end of the day I am all for the accessibility to NHL players Twitter provides; but seriously…pick your spots.
I’m curious: What are your thoughts on NHL players tweeting during the season?
Follow me on Twitter (ironic, eh?): @mbd_27
PS – My Twitter account (and 12 followers) hasn’t affected my Toronto Men’s League performances this year negatively in any way…
About the Author
Written by Mike De Petrillo
Leafs fan; former OHL LW; Live in Toronto