What Year Is This Again?
After a great start, the leafs have fallen back to earth with a
loud thump. Yes, the blue and white of late certainly have
brought their faithful fans back to reality. As their record
indicates since their impressive beginning, it is going to be
very difficult for this team to compete night in and night out.
The playoffs will come only as a result of hard work because they
are not going to get any gifts from anyone in their division
or conference. Teams like the Islanders and the Penguins, who on
paper appear to be lacking in depth, have put together a nice
string of competitive games and the Sabres and Rangers have also
turned it on of late.
Many of the problems of last year continue to plague the Maple
Leafs. The most damning of them all is their league worst power
play. With the exception of Sundin, the entire group is inept
and seems to loose any fight whenever they have the man
Curiously enough, the major fear of the pundits with regards to
Toronto was the lack of a second line center to play behind
Sundin. Ironically, though, the second line center has not been
the weakness that most expected. What has been missing is a
front line player to play with Sundin. Fredrik Modin has been a
huge disappointment and it says here unless he finds a cure for
his allergy towards the corners he never will make it in the NHL.
What has become a trademark of the current Leaf regime,
management, at least so far, has been content in watching the
team perform and see what happens. One deal has been made and it
was a dandy. Mike Smith, from the early results anyway, got
totally fleeced by Neil Smith in the Karpovtsev for Schneider
deal. Schneider has added much needed offense to the Rangers
while Leaf Coach Pat Quinn has already had Potsie listed as a
healthy scratch. You can almost hear Quinn telling Alexander,
"Sit on it Potsie!"
As for the Potvin situation, nothing is doing. No word seems to
be the company line. Much will hinge on what happens with Pavel
Bure. It is unlikely that a deal can get done simply between the
Leafs and another squad. The smart money is on a three-way deal.
The Leafs are in a very difficult part of their schedule. They
must at best come out of this part playing .500 hockey or else
every game will be a must win. And to be behind the eight ball
so early in the season is taxing and does not historically bode
well for a long playoff run. Knowing the Leafs' history, buckle
up, because we are going to need every point we can get.