Rejuvenated Leafs Down Devils


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    The Leafs are streaking!  That’s right, and not even the losing type either (or the naked Ferrell type—if that’s what you were thinking).  Although Toronto only dispatched the lowly Devils (feels weird saying that) this Thursday night, they did so in a relatively efficient and confident manner that bodes well for the near future.  A solid effort by Jonas Gustavsson and an effective powerplay (feels  even weirder saying that) drove the Leafs to their second win in as many games.

    Here are some quick notes from this Thursday night tilt:

    -Nazem Kadri had a great game on a line with Bozak and Kessel.  Kadri played to his strengths, using his speed to make space and creating plays with quick, accurate passing.  As I’ve mentioned in the recent past, this is most evident on the power play.  If Kadri is successful in this league, he will quickly develop a reputation as a “power play specialist”, as he is one of those players gifted with that combination of vision and passing-skill.  He will need to continue to work on his two-way play, but a continued impact of this level will keep Nazem up with the Leafs for the foreseeable future.  I won’t postulate on Ron Wilson’s post-game commentary regarding Kadri, as I believe the media will take care of over-hyping that (slightly puzzling) exchange.  Kadri would do well to maintain an even keel and continue doing what he has over the last two games.

    -Mikhail Grabovski’s persistence and work ethic is finally paying off.  He is shedding what is a completely undeserved reputation as a “lazy” player that “doesn’t know how to spell defense” (I’m paraphrasing here, but you’ve all heard it at one point or another).  Grabovski consistently puts forth a monstrous effort and has an undeniable level of raw skill.  If he is ever guilty of anything it is of trying too hard (with subsequent mistakes being the end result—re: his giveaway against Nashville).  Him and Kulemin form a respectable pairing that could continue to blossom into a long-term role with the Leafs.

    -Has Kris Versteeg arrived?  He has definitely reaped the benefits of a functioning powerplay, but will need to start having a larger impact at even strength.  With NHL players, the “psychological factor” is of mammoth importance, especially with respect to younger skaters.  As such, Versteeg’s increasing confidence indicates that there is more in store for the ex-Blackhawk.

    The Leafs will now look forward to a Saturday night matchup against the division-leading Canadiens.  Montreal just got shutout by Rinne and the Predators and will come out hungry for a goal.  Gustavsson and co. will have to maintain their balance of defensive effort and offensive aptitude (finally!) to eke out a win in what will undoubtedly be an exciting game.

    As always, interested to hear your thoughts.