A Few Developing Storylines
Friday, 10.29.2010 / 4:16 PM ET / Mike Ulmer's Blog
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All of you who projected Colton Orr as the Leafs third-highest goalscorer, please stand up.
Didn’t think so.
The Leafs play their 10th game Saturday at the ACC against the New York Rangers.
In honour of that milestone, what say we knock around the 10 most compelling storylines this season?
1. Smokin’ Colton. Only Phil Kessel (seven goals) and Clarke MacArthur (six) have scored more frequently than Orr. Turns out the best way to score is to run over Scott Clemmensen. Good thing Kris Newbury didn’t know that while the two played with the Marlies.
2. As Advertised: Tim Brent has been precisely the player the Leafs projected. Brent has scored twice and is an even player. For a third line frequently paired against the opponent’s best unit, an even slate is commendable.
3. Misfiring Gunner: The Leafs rearguard seems snakebit by the same affliction that beset second-year players named Schenn and Kulemin. Gunnarsson has been scratched four times.
4. Vice Vesa: The Leafs have knocked nearly a goal off last year’s final GAA. The Leafs finished last season 29th in goals against last season. This year the Leafs sit fifth. The Leafs have dropped their shots by three a game which is significant but can’t possibly account for the improvement. Might be the goaltending.
5. Kes sera sera: Phil Kessel’s output is more impressive considering the struggle endured by another sophomore, centre Tyler Bozak. Another one-goal scorer, Kris Versteeg, has a sore back and may not play Saturday.
6. Clarke Kent: Clarke MacArthur. Six goals for 1.1 million. Ilya Kovalchuk, 100 million, 15-year-contract: three goals. Just sayin’.
7. Loose cannon: Dion Phaneuf is second in the league for shots by defencemen but despite one of the hardest shots in the game, Phaneuf remains goalless this season. He has two goals in 35 games with the team. Phaneuf, who hinted in training camp that he wanted to top the 20-goal marker can’t seem to break through despite mountains of power play time and the presence of a proven set-up man in Tomas Kaberle.
8. Schenn-sational: Luke Schenn has emerged as the team’s best all-around defenceman. He and Tomas Kaberle are both plus-4 which is the best on the team. In addition to hammering the beejesus out of opposing forwards, he has shown himself to be far more confident in the offensive end.
9. Pine time players: Ron Wilson is right when he says brief benchings of Tyler Bozak and Kessel wouldn’t be a big ideal in most other cities. But the media reaction isn’t the story. The story is the fact that he felt he needed to make those moves. No one speaks a greater truth than Wilson when he says his job is to identify and reroute underperforming players as quickly as possible.
10. Meanwhile, back on the farm: Nazem Kadri has scored three times, assisted on four more and acquitted himself impressively with the Marlies. Kadri will be at Ricoh for a while yet but the fact that only Luca Caputi generated more shots has to encourage the brass.