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Messages - Bender

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Main Leafs Hockey Talk / Re: Training Camp: September 16 - October 1
« on: September 19, 2011, 09:49:54 AM »
Although Aulie's defensive performance was pretty good, he offered nothing in the way of offense.  I could see his stock drop if they're looking for a more versatile blueliners.

That's true, but we still need a strong, crease clearning presence. Most of our D have some offensive ability. Aulie and Komi are the only stay at homes. We have five D with good, to very good offensive ability. I think he'll be ok in a shutdown role.

very nice post Bender.  You were writing concurrently with me ...

Totally agree with you on the Rangers front. I don't think their D is as bad as people say it is. They're a pretty balanced team the more that I look at it. Sather is unbelievably lucky that his bosses allow him to throw money away.

I'm not sure what their whole team will look like, but the Rangers seemed to really need a first line centre as well. If they were alright last year I think it's because their top player was Brandon Dubinsky. Now that Richards is there they're stacked in depth on the centre position with Dubinsky, Stepan breaking out, Anisimov etc.

*Begin unscientific analysis. This will look at overall point totals regardless of how long the players was on the team (i.e. Versteeg, Lupul etc.) Also does not take into account actual lines - too much research for 1am.*

It's funny though looking at the Rags: The Leafs top scorers last year seemed to be better statistically. The Leafs' top 10 scorers outscored the Rags 421 to 390, and thats with Versteeg and Kaberle out of the lineup for a good chunk of time. Most of their top 10 played close to a full season (60gms+)

Our top 4 goal scorers (Kessel, Kooly, Grabbo, MacArthur) scored 112 Goals compared to the Rag's 90.

This leads me to my next point: Balanced scoring. We didn't have it last year. Our bottom 13 players in goal scoring managed to score 143pts compared to the Rags 203.

We scored 44 goals to their 57. Right there it becomes obvious that our top two lines weren't TOO bad offensively. Bozak wasn't amazing but it looked like our top ten plyers were decent, it's just that our bottom 13 were so inept offensively that we couldn't keep up with other teams' depth players sometimes chipping the puck in.

This reminds me of what Nik was saying all year last year: You can't win with a guy like Sjostrom on your 4th line, and he's right. You need some semblance of offence even from your depth guys. The Rangers don't have anyone even remotely close to being as bad offensively as our fourth line. One of the Rag's worst forwards in a PPG sense was Sean Avery last year. He played 76 games but still managed to put up 24pts. Us? Sjostrom: 66gp, 5pts. Mike Brown: 50gp, 8pts. Colton Orr: 46gp, 2pts.

I mean come on! This is just pitiful. I see no reason for us to dress Orr or Rosehill most nights. We HAVE to go with Boyce - Dupuis - X. At least Dupuis was close to cracking 20pts. Boyce could also be a 20pt guy. Maybe Crabb could get slotted in there or Ryan Hamilton or something, just not a meathead. As much as I like Mike Brown and his firecracker style, he's not going to give us any kind of scoring from the fourth line. There's plenty of other guys who could provide a "spark" with providing even a little offense.

To me it looks like we've addressed quite a few of our issues beginning last season: First line centre (Connolly), 1st/2nd line Winger (Lupul) puck moving D (Liles), Lebda replacement (Franson), 3rd line depth (Bozak getting pushed down, eventual arrival of Lombardi), goaltending (Reimer?) We may have solved fourth line depth too with the signing of Dupuis and letting training camp battle it out, but I'm concerned that our fourth line depth is going to be VERY shallow simply because RW will likely pick Brown and Orr to play on the fourth line. People say that the fourth line won't break you, but I have a feeling that, in addition to spotty goaltending, our fourth line that we were supposed to be able to count on for some offense fell apart completely, and was pretty big contributing factor to our not making the post season.

And with my very unscientific and very flawed analysis, I bid you adieu, because holy cow I have to be up in 6 hours.

After reviewing the line-ups for the Habs, Hurricanes and Rangers, I am pretty confident that if Reimer plays on par with last year, the Leafs will make the playoffs.
Brad Richards or not, I don't think the Rangers line-up is all that hot. Lunquivst has been saving their bacon.
Canadiens are smallest still, lack scoring punch and have an injury prone defence, with little depth.
Hurricanes, when you look past Staal and Skinner, there's not much up front. I actually expect the Hurricanes to fall badly.
The Islanders, for all the talk of them up-and-coming, I'm not buying it. Unless Montoya captures the same hot streak as he did last year, like Reimer, they will be also-rans again.
Sabres will probably finish ahead of the Leafs, but I am not convinced they become world-beaters as some are predicting. Regehr and Ehrhoff no doubt aid the D, but they are not overly talented up front. Vanek & Roy, but not a lot otherwise. I think Leino is over-hyped and their better young players, Ennis and Gerbe are very smallish.

I agree only to a degree here. I think there's a lot more parity between the Leafs and other Eastern teams than last year. What this means more teams are beatable, but the reverse is also true in the sense that any team could still beat us. We're not quite the Pittsburgh Penguins or Washington Capitals so to speak.

However, there are even quite a bit of unknowns for a few teams. The Flyers are a very strange looking team: They've got a lot of fresh faces, but none that is an over the top star outside of Giroux, and we'll have to see how his numbers fare with new players. I can't imagine Briere staying up there much longer, and they're hanging a lot of their hopes on prospects. Also which Jagr will show up? He's no spring chicken, and I don't think he's the bionic man like Teemu Selanne. And outside of Pronger, their D is pretty thin.

Lightning: Outside of Stamkos and St. Louis they don't have a whole lot. Age might start to creep up on St. Louis, if he loses half a step he's done as his game relies a lot on speed. Their D is also paper thin and they're putting a lot of reliance on a very old goaltender. I can easily see them become an Atlanta Thrashers or Columbus Blue Jackets: Some very nice pieces but not enough of the right stuff.

The Devils are a team I would be very worried about, I think they're due for a huge comeback, even with Brodeur getting older. I wouldn't put it all on the coach, I think the team has a lot of the right pieces and just didn't know how to put them together. A half decent coach will be able to coach them into the post-season. The caveat again, is the D is paper thin as well, and Brodeur ain't getting any younger.

The reason the Leafs have a good shot this year in my mind would be because the team is starting to look pretty balanced. We don't have star calibre forwards but nearly all of the top 9 legitimately can play the role asked. The top two lines will compete with each other in terms of overall productivity, Kadri will improve this year and help form a good third line with Armstrong and either Bozak or Lombardi in terms of scoring and sandpaper. The D looks solid, although I'm a bit worried we may be a bit too offensive minded in our defense this year, but they aren't slouches as long as Phaneuf doesn't give the puck away as much. Schenn, Aulie, Phaneuf, Komi can clear the crease, and we should be able to teach Franson the same thing. Reimer needs to be Reimer, but based on everything I've seen I think he's the real deal and will be able to bail the team out when needed.

As I see it the whole idea would be to win games through attrition. Weather the barrage launched by a Stamkos, Kovalchuk, Giroux, Richards etc. and come back at them with 2-3 effective scoring lines and catch them on a bad shift/change or when their weaker lines are out.

I think with all of the above the Leafs really do have a chance to kind of shoot up the middle and surprise with maybe as high as a 6th place finish. I'm confident we won't see a swan dive unless Reimer and Goose really crap the bed, although I can see Scrivens earning the backup role if things get dicey.

Standings will look something like:

New Jersey

It's going to be a crazy year, but I'm optimistic.

General Rumours & Speculation / Re: Leafs Line up this year
« on: September 18, 2011, 08:08:42 PM »
Wasn't coming here his change of of scenery?

I think he needs to go to another organization and not because he can't play, but because he can. Maybe he's alright sticking around, but I wouldn't be when I knew I could crack an NHL line up. He won't make the Leafs because of our depth, not because he can't be an effective rearguard.

It's really unfortunate, because I think he could be a really good defenseman in the right situation. With Gardiner and Blacker on his tail and so many ahead of him, he may not get that chance with us.

Yeah, kinda my stance on it. We just have so much depth and higher calibre prospects that I think he gets lost in the shuffle. I think he could make a very serviceable defenseman for a team that is short on d-man depth.

General Rumours & Speculation / Re: Leafs Line up this year
« on: September 18, 2011, 06:37:30 PM »
I think Franson will be making the team over Lashoff.

I think Franson is better but I would just hate to see Franson in the pressbox night after night.  Lashoff could do it I believe.

Franson isn't exempt from waivers. Even if he was, I doubt the Leafs would send him to the AHL. Wilson's talked quite a bit about getting the defense more involved offensively and has spoken about Franson's talent in that department quite a bit.

I hate to say it but I think Lashoff needs a change of scenery. He was a top pick in the 2005 draft. I can't believe he's 25 already. Sadly, he's not much of a prospect anymore.

Main Leafs Hockey Talk / Re: Training Camp: September 16 - October 1
« on: September 18, 2011, 06:32:38 PM »
I'm so ridiculously stoked for this year.  Way more optimistic than last year about our playoff chances with the new additions and development that we've seen.

Really? How long before we see your infamous " we stink dudes" post?

That wasn't him.. that was barney_rebel.

Even when he did it I thought there was some levity when he said that.

Main Leafs Hockey Talk / Re: Training Camp: September 16 - October 1
« on: September 18, 2011, 06:28:43 PM »

Good Ron Wilson interview if it hasn't been posted already.

On the battle on the fourth line: "Brian [Burke] will clear a spot if you clearly win the job up here." - Ron Wilson

Good to hear! It really sounds like there's quite a bit of competition on the fourth line. Ziggy might be able to get in again as well.

Rynnas is injured, Sparks going back to junior. We'll likely see Reimer, Gustavsson and Scrivens a look at exhibition. Owuya likely to just watch this time around.

Main Leafs Hockey Talk / Re: General Leafs Talk
« on: September 17, 2011, 03:34:20 PM »
Anyone who declares Kadri is a bust at this stage of his career is a buffoon. Your point is spot on.

Yeah, that pretty much covers it. He's at least a couple seasons away from being at risk of really being a bust.

It's not like every talented player breaks into the league right away. Richards didn't amount to much until he was 23. Patrick Sharp didn't amount to much until he was 25 or so. Its hard to just write a player off this early in his career when he's trending toward improvement. You have to be able to see some key issues wrong with the player to do so, imo. Alex Steen isn't all that young anymore but he broke out last season and I think the team would be better off with him than without him.

We have had our fair share of busts but Leafs history is littered with players we gave up on only to have them breakout elsewhere.

Main Leafs Hockey Talk / Re: Training Camp: September 16 - October 1
« on: September 17, 2011, 03:25:03 PM »
Personally I would prefer to see Lombardi playing with Kessel than being on the third line.  I think when he is 100% healthy Lombardi is probably the most talented center we have.

He certainly has the speed to keep up with Kessel, but Connolly might be a better set up man I think.

I've seen both play and I think Connolly is very creative with the puck. He sticks out as such a sore point whenever the Leafs played Buffalo. Lombardi I thought was good, but not quite as good as Connolly.

Main Leafs Hockey Talk / Re: Schenn's Next deal
« on: September 16, 2011, 04:41:14 PM »
Don't key me wrong, I liked the Giguere part of that trade too, but for me, getting rid of Blake was key IMO.

I don't know that Blake was all that bad a guy. A useless hockey player, sure, but I think the idea of him "infecting" other players is overstating things.

And the Giguere part of the deal, maybe more than any single personnel decision, probably cost the team the playoffs last year.

In one way I think you're right. I mean, it seems odd that they didn't get a good look at Reimer earlier on in the year and think "Hey, he's playing very well!" Jiggy was clearly not getting the job done but they, at best, split games between him and Goose. I think they could've given Reimer a shot earlier just to hedge their bets.

Main Leafs Hockey Talk / Re: Schenn's Next deal
« on: September 16, 2011, 12:53:41 PM »
He got usefull pieces back though... Beauchemin was later spun for a pick and a prospect. Getting cap space back is nice and all but that's not really my point. The point is, I'm not sure Komisarek could fetch bach assets. Period... Cap space or otherwise.

He got Gigeure back that's it, Beauchemin was UFA signing.

It was one bad contract for another, that's it.

The hope was to use Giguere as an upgrade to Toskala. That didn't materialize well, but for what it's worth, I would rather have Giguere mentoring James and Goose than Toskala. He must've also been a locker room issue as he would refuse to work with Allaire. Some added PR for Allaire with Giguere being here I'm sure didn't hurt either.

Not a magical deal, but I still think overall it was better to take a chance on Jiggy than stick with Toskala, and an extra year of Jason Blake.

Main Leafs Hockey Talk / Re: Matthew Lombardi update/information thread
« on: September 16, 2011, 12:03:29 PM »
mirtleJames Mirtle
Wilson: "For sure the playoffs are do-able." Says Lombardi is getting very close and will likely participate in some practices

mirtleJames Mirtle
Wilson says Lombardi could play left wing to start.

They've gotta be pretty confident in his return! I don't think they'd rush him at all, so this is very welcome news.

In other concussion news: I was reading on Twitter, JR stated himself that he experienced 5 concussions while with the Flyers. 5!!!

Main Leafs Hockey Talk / Re: Training Camp: September 16 - October 1
« on: September 16, 2011, 12:00:05 PM »
jonasTSN1050: Ron Wilson says he'll make at least 30 cuts by Wednesday. He plans to trim group down to 26/27 players by the following Wednesday.

@mirtle Wilson: "For sure the playoffs are do-able." Says Lombardi is getting very close and will likely participate in some practices.

Sweet. I feel like finally we have some semblence of a competitive team.

Main Leafs Hockey Talk / Re: Schenn's Next deal
« on: September 16, 2011, 10:59:38 AM »
I'm really happy with Schenn's deal right now. I'm just starting to get a little bit worried about Grabbo and Kooly both needing new contracts next year... Something's gotta give sooner rather than later. It looks like shipping Komisarek would solve a lot of problems going forward.

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