Hey PPP fans,
I wanted to take this time to revisit a post I made in the summertime, claiming that, on paper, Toronto had one of the best defense corps in the league. Before I continue this post, let me make something very clear. I WAS WRONG. There, I said it. I was very wrong. Frankly, I feel a bit better having said it out loud.
Could the general ECHL-level play of Toskala be a reason for the underperforming defense? Yes. Obviously. A large part. Can my unrealistic expectations of rookie goaltender Jonus Gustavsson also have played a part? Why, yes. But, short of all excuses one can make regarding goaltending, it's pretty indisputable that the Leafs defense has been atrocious. A 6-4 win versus the Edmonton Oilers, great as it was to see 6 goals scored, was not encouraging. Nor was a 4-1 loss to the New York Islanders. Could this be the goaltenders' fault? It's possible, and I'm sure an argument could be made, but I'm going to say that would be a VERY weak argument.
So, what's going on with our defence? I don't actually have the answer. I'm more interested in getting opinions from the rest of PPP nation. Some analysis after the jump
Francois Beauchemin - What happened? Despite his heroics in net, one of his most exciting attributes is that he's toted to be a difference-maker on the powerplay. Instead, he has but 10 powerplay points, and is a -16. He's shown bright spots, and I remember his great play from when he was on the Ducks. Is he just suffering from a bad Leafs team? Or is he one of the causes? Keep in mind, you can't say about EVERY player "well, they play on the Leafs so keep that in mind". Eventually, someone needs to be held accountable. Is Franky HappyTrails the guy?
Dion Phaneuf - Too soon to judge his time with the Leafs. You get a pass, Dion.
Ian White - Obviously no longer a Maple Leaf, he was a lone consistent bright spot for the first half of the season. Thanks to his great play, we were able to parlay him into Dion Phaneuf.
Luke Schenn - I've been very happy with his play. He's +1 in 2010, despite his secret sophomore slump that nobody in the Toronto media seems to have mentioned. I would have thought something like that would have got some sort of mention in the media or on blogs. Guess not. Anyway, sarcasm aside, I still think he has the ability to be a Maple Leafs mainstay. Was he the root of the Maple Leafs defense problems though? It's possible. I'll let you guys state your opinions.
Garnet Exelby - I take a pass on him, simply because he sucks. Sorry if you like him - he's not the guy I want in front of my goalie. Ever. Is he the root of the Leafs problems on defense? Absolutely not. He just adds to them. He doesn't get enough TOI to be the cause of the problem in my opinion.
Tomas Kaberle - Possibly the most enigmatic Leaf of the year, Kaberle has flashes of brilliance still, yet also has many defensive zone flaws. For some reason, he likes playing in Toronto and refuses to waive his NTC. I guess I'm happy that he loves being a Maple Leaf. But I'd much rather have seen a prospect and a first round pick. With 47 points on the year, I can't say I'm disappointed in his production, however he's also a -17. What happened to you Tomas? Should we trade for Bryan McCabe? Your best years were when the two of you were paired! Is Kaberle, rather than being arguably the Leafs best player, in fact the reason the Leafs suck?
Jeff Finger - NSFW language is all that's appropriate here. I hate you. But were you the cause of our problems? You are a -9, despite having only played in 37 games. The argument can be made, despite the limited ice time on the 3rd pair, that your lack of ability has been costly.
Carl Gunnarsson - I don't have anything negative to say about you. Good job. You earned a spot on a full roster. You're even such a good teammate that you share the goal-scoring glory with your goaltender!
Mike Komisarek - Sadly, you get a pass. I say sadly, because I felt as if you were just finding your game at the time of your season-ending surgery. Hopefully next year you're able to live up to your hefty contract.
Mike Van Ryn - I actually feel sorry for you. I hope you're able to recover from your injuries and are able to secure a minor-league contract for next year, or even in the KHL. Eventually I'd like to see you have a comeback in the NHL.