Raking Leafs

Mixing metaphors and casting cliches about hockey and the Maple Leafs for the ether's pleasure since MCMLXVII.


...pretty close...

July hypothetical lines:
"That's pretty close to where we'll start," Maurice said, referring to the makeup of the first three lines.

Without precognitive powers to foresee Wellwood's relapse and Bell getting rung up for 15 games, let's see how my gambling gene did.

Antro sticks with Sundin, providing post-up play-making options, with Blake getting bumped to the first line to jump into the holes and fly up the wing. With two thirds of my L2 gone, the St.Ajan and St.Een pairing moves up to join the demoted Poni. This has the potential to be a very effective line, but Poni hasn't excelled when playing with these two before, so hopefully this time around is different.

Tucker mans L3 rightwing, which is where he should be. If that upsets you, think of it as the first checking line. I want Tucker on the ice in spurts to set tempo. I don't want Tucker on the ice too much which slows the tempo. Kilger slides up on the left side, while Pohl gets the chance he earned last year.

Boyd and Bates formed one of the better L4's in the league, in my opinion, last year with Kilger. Newbury should be able to fill the void while allowing the wingers to do the heavy lifting in the corners. Hopefully he can keep up the pace when the B boys generate their high pace cycle down low.

Overall, I like the look of the lines. Knowing the powerplay can click without Wellwood down low to the left of the net eases some concerns. The Leafs powerplay has operated on the left side of the ice for several years, and I wasn't confident a scheme focusing on Blake down low to the right of the net would be a smooth shift. I'm still not sure since I didn't get to see the game against the Wings last night, but the box scores provides enough evidence to at least not be too worried.

Look ma, forwards playing defense!

As for defense, your guess is better than mine. With so many unknowns in Kronwall, Woz, Strahlman and Carlo already hurt I can't really work out who is out and who is in. But the forwards have to get their collective head out of their ass. Their zone coverage is atrocious.

Which leads me to a theme I hope to see this season. Rather than the score-a-thon we are usually treated to for the first third of the season, I was thinking a defense first, build from the D zone out, approach would be a refreshing change. Develop those good habits early, then loosen the reins. I don't know. Call me crazy, but if the forwards have as much invested in keeping the goals against down as the blueliners, then maybe they will be tougher to play against as a team.

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Rush Rush

So, I was hoping something positive would spur me to get back to posting here. How naive I am at times is astounding.

Reading Berger's post which cites some anonymous groin expert, and former Leafs employee, really has me upset. Basically, if Wellwood had been treated properly last year and given a LONG summer to rest, this recent flair up should not have occurred. Obviously he rested during the summer, as his father has been very vocal on the subject. That leaves the treated properly last year part.

Wellwood's performance varied wildly last year, even to the point of me becoming frustrated with his apparent unwillingness to engage the opposition physically. He was playing as a mere shadow of the player that began the season with a bang. By his own admission, this injury bothered him for at least half of the games he played before December. Which brings us to this nugget courtesy of anonymous.

But, if he played with that muscle tear for any length of time last season, it was most definitely the wrong thing to do. I understand why pro hockey players try to push the envelope. They want to play. Their careers aren’t overly long. But, reason has to prevail in situations involving important muscles like those in the groin area
Reason. Ah yes, something we humans should use in the act of making a decision. And yet reason is often trumped by external factors that upon reflection are quite irrational. Like say, pressure on the GM to make the playoffs because of his uncertain job security. Or like Wellwood continuing to play in discomfort because of pressure from the team to produce. Wellwood alluded to this pressure recently, suggesting management wanted him to play an entire season.

This is not to say Kyle himself isn't putting pressure on himself to play an entire season, but from the sound of it, he was pressured to do so last year, and explains management's thought process of bringing Wellwood back to finish the season, despite early reports that Kyle was done for the season when the team opted for surgery.

Remember those reports? I do. And some how magically they were forgotten. Wellwood should have been shut down with the thinking of coming back in October of 2007, not March 2007.

Thirteen games played. Eleven points. And possibly a groin irreparably damaged. If this injury isn't managed properly this year, assuming he can regain enough strength in the area to be effective, and he is rushed back early in the hopes of merely making the playoffs and he re-injures the groin, it is the most damning bit of evidence to have JFJ fired and MLSE loudly blamed for putting JFJ in such a position.

Good teams don't treat their few and precious talents with such short-sightedness.

Update - Simmons actually has a decent article today regarding the medical mishaps of the JFJ administration. Too bad he too thinks Wellwood will be back to normal next month.

Update - I just wanted to extend a special thank you to Tom L of Sabre Rattling fame for mentioning this blog over at AOL Blogger Fanhouse.

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