10 Games in, 5-5-0, how do you evaluate this team? (TSN Power Rankings 18th.)
What do you think so far?
It's been a pretty average start to say the least. A change from the last few years...'09-10 the Leafs dug themselves into a hole they could never recover from, '10-11 and '11-'12 they had hot starts but fizzled out. .500 is about as average as it gets though.
The team has had its ups and downs for sure. Some good things we've seen are the kids are playing well, particularly Kadri and Frattin, and Komarov is bringing an element we haven't had in a while. Kulemin looks good again, and JvR has been solid. The rest....eh, a bit disappointing to say the least. We've been having injury issues though with MacArthur and Lupul. Kessel really needs to pick it up though because we seriously need the scoring support, and Bozak has to start contributing, along with Grabovski.
Our D has looked okay at times and bad at others. Carlyle has brought some good changes in terms of applying a simplistic defensive approach with better positioning, but without Gunnarsson and Gardiner we're severely disadvantaged since we lack d-men who are competent at breaking out effectively. At this point, the Phaneuf-Kostka pairing is the only real reliable defensive pairing and they're getting overworked because of that.
Reimer has been very good which is a very positive thing to see, he looks just as good, if not better, than he was in the second half of 2010-2011.
Special teams continue to be an issue as well. PK looked good at first but is fizzling out again, and PP has been god-awful, Carlyle won't budge with Kostka and it's detrimental.
The team seems a bit grittier and more calm defensively, but they still have work to do in that regard and iron things out. 4 years of crap coaching is hard to erase, and at times they will have Ronnie moments.
Overall, the direction of the team is still unclear this season. Is this going to be a tank team, or can they push for the post-season? They have been able to beat weaker teams, so maybe it's possible. I can see this team going on a hot streak as easily as going on a lengthy losing streak. Home and Away games could make the difference...the Leafs are on their worst home stretch since the '80s if you go back to last season where they had that huge collapse...the ACC has become a venomous, toxic atmosphere where it's either pin-drop silent or the fans are quick to start booing/chanting "Let's go Blue Jays". Fan disappointment is at an all time high and rightfully so. The team will have to start winning games at home if they have any hope for playoffs.
I want playoffs and will keep cheering for that until we are really out of it. By that point, I hope we tank hard and get the best pick possible. The worst thing would be finishing on the bubble, which I pray doesn't happen.
I think we should bring in a dependable, veteran d-man to shore up the back end though. We seriously need some stability back there.
Hopefully, this team gets healthy soon so we can see what it's really made of.
If there are no more injuries, a 7th to 12th place finish I think is likely. Fairly large range there, but I expect the point differences between these placings to be about 6-8 points total. Going to be close race to the finish.
I don't know about you guys... but for once I don't think this team is playing over its head.
Other years we come out hot, and you know that we're going to hit a wall because we've got tweeners playing like all-stars.
This year we're 5-5, our best player hasn't scored a goal, our second best player is out for 6 weeks, our young players are carrying most of the load, and playing up to their potential. This includes our goaltending.
I see progress. I didn't think we were bad enough to "tank" to begin with, and figured we'd be exactly how we are, have some nights that look great, others that look average, and some that look horrendous.
Its going to take a hot streak and some good fortune to get iin that 7-8 spot. And it'll take some bad fortune and injuries to put us in the 12-13 spot.
Not quite bad enough for a top-5 draft position, but not nearly good enough for an easy playoff berth either. I feel like we're heading toward that insufferable 9-13 draft range which is the worst case scenario. But it's the first Leafs team in a long time where I genuinely want to see the guys do well so it's hard to cheer against them. Anyway, I have faith with Nonis at the helm.
The one thing that stands out for me in the first 10 games, is that it appears as though this team is actually a well-coached team for a change. That never felt like the case under Wilson.
Now they look like they have systems in place, and strategies they've worked on, and preferred plays when under certain situations, and overall they just all look a lot more clued in about what everyone's roles are on the team.
The final 5 minutes of the Capitals game was a good example of that, especially in the neutral zone.
If I'm looking for positives - more so than Kadri or van Reimsdyk, the biggest positive this team has going for it right now is Randy Carlyle.
JVR, Kadri, Frattin have all been tremendous.
Reimer has really found his groove back. Is playing like an upper half (top 15) nhl goalie. If it wasn't for the Rangers game where our D **** the bed he'd have tremendous numbers, his numbers are currently still solid though.
While we are missing Lupul and Gardiner a lot, for the most part, the Leafs are still a team that lacks talent.
This means a choice between trying to outgun your problems and leave the back end exposed, or to tighten the ship and watch goal production plummet. On any given night, either the goalies and defensemen will look terrible, or the soft, lazy and not-good-enough forwards will look terrible. Ron Wilson picked the former and Randy Carlyle is choosing the latter.
The Leafs still need to get their injured players back and add a few more skilled bodies. Simple as that.
Well I'm glad to see the young guys like Kadri are getting chances and are producing. Nice to see JVR going to the net and getting rewarded.
What is concerning is the .500 record. It feels like we could easily slip into that mediocre range 9-12 where you don't get a great pick, but you miss the playoffs. I just hope we miss that agonizing dead zone.
The biggest question you have to ask yourself is how different is this team from last years team? To be honest its the same group. Although reimer is playing well and we have a new coach, + JVR and kadri is for once getting real minutes. I'd say if we can get gardiner and lupul back and contributed soon i could see us with a 7th to 9th place finish.