I know that the last few
days weeks years have been rough on us Leaf fans and last night's game in particular has many on the site ready to jump off the proverbial bridge. While I will not deny there is certainly some cause for concern, all hope is not lost. I hope I can balance out some of the negativity pervading the site today with a few positives for Leafs fans everywhere, taken from around the league.
In no particular order:
- The play of Luke Schenn. It's still early, but how can you not be impressed with the development of our first pick from 2008? I would suggest that, in most cases, bringing up an 18 year-old defenceman to play on a terrible team, in front of a terrible goalie (Toskala), in one of the league's biggest media markets would be an enormous mistake but, here we are, Schenn is in his third season now and well on his way to becoming the player we all thought he would. Oh, and did I mention the poise!?
- The Devils/Sabres struggles. Look I know, as Leafs fans, we've got our own problems to deal with, but it could be worse. The Devils have real problems and if Brodeur is truly on his last legs then their stay at the bottom of the standings may be a long one. The Sabres are realizing that life isn't so great when your goaltender is no longer performing at an all-world level. I know it's early in the season and things could change, but I can't be the only one who enjoys the fact that the Leafs currently sit above these two clubs in the standings.
- Montreal's season could still implode at any time. Really. There's still time. Carey Price has handled himself pretty well so far this season, I will credit him for that, but as long as Halak continues to put up crazy numbers (.944 SV%) in St. Louis, you know this story isn't going to go away. One brutal effort from Price in front of the home faithful could still be enough to send the Habs' season where it was headed last year before Halak saved their asses - the gutter.
- Building from the net out. From the time Brian Burke arrived in Toronto he has preached two things: truculence and building his teams from the net out. The early returns from this season are in and the results, at least in this regard, have been overwhelmingly positive. To this point in the season the Leafs rank T-9th in goals against per game (29th last season) and 3rd in shots against per game (T-13th last season). Now these rankings are bound to fluctuate as the season progresses, but I feel confident in saying that the Leafs will remain a dramatically improved defensive squad thanks to the changes made in personnel over the last season or so. I think this is the most positive development for the Leafs in several seasons.
It has been a tough week for us Leaf fans. Dates with the Lightning and Canucks, Tuesday and Saturday respectively, probably mean this week may not see things get any better. I don't know if this team will make the playoffs. I am confident, though, that as the season progresses we will have more stories like these to help us through.
In the comments, share with everyone what helps you get through weekends like this one as a fan of everybody's favourite under-achieving hockey team.
- Syl Apt