Monday, September 28, 2009

Fresh Ice

Ladies and gentlemen, if I can get you to look at that little light and wait for the flash

I know most of the Barilkosphere will be blogging about Vesa Toskala's ECHL calibre performance last night but I won't. I'm all about optimism this year. Let's take a look at what we have to look forward to. With the preseason all wrapped up, it's only a matter of days until the regular season is upon us. Let's forget about the JFJ years, let's forget about last season, let's forget about Vesa Toskala's abysmal preseason stats; come Thursday, we will have a new start. As LD so eloquently puts it, "Fresh ice, fools!"

In fine Tyler Bozak fashion, let's take a look at seven things to look forward to in this 2009-10 Leafs' season.
The Seventh Samurai, Tyler Bozak

Not only does Bozak have a sick nick name (post coming in a near future) but the guy has skills. Just check out
this shorthanded goal against the Bruins. From watching him in the preseason, it is clear why there were so many team interested in his duties. Bozak is a hardworking hockey player with smart hockey sense. He can do it all. He can play on the powerplay, can kill penalties and he's defensively sound for a rookie. Ron Wilson even put him on the point on some powerplays because he can be trusted back there. Sure, the shorty he scored was great but it wasn't even my favourite highlight of his this preseason. This was. While Bozak will most likely start the season with the Marlies, I have a feeling he likely won't end the season with the Marlies. Viktor Stalberg Telling the Marlies to Fuck Off

Stalberg was a dark horse to make the club coming into training camp but he played his ass off this preseason and boy can he play. He racked up 6 goals this preseason to go along with 2 assists for 8 points in 8 games (this is purely going by my memory so please correct me if the stats are wrong). Sure, these are preason stats but it's hard not to get a raging boner just watching him play. Stalberg looks like a player who can make something out of nothing the way he can turn on the jets and cut through the opposing team's defence. I'm glad he got a spot on the team and it was well deserved. This guy will be a stud in the NHL.
Nazem Kadri back with London

Don't get me wrong, Kadri had a good preseason but he wasn't dominant by any means. Having him back in London can only do good things for his development, especially when it comes to adding some size to his frame. He was simply too easy to knock off the puck along the boards. Kid's got a shitload of talent though and will be a dominant playmaker for many years to come.
Phil Kessel's Return

Was last year's 36 goal season a product of Marc Savard's passes or is Kessel the dynamic sniper we've been lacking since...Rick Vaive? Only time will tell but I have a feeling that last season was no fluke. With Kessel already starting his on ice work outs, the anticipation for his first start is growing steadily. Luckily, we should have him in November, when it matters. I'm glad we got him locked up long term. Can you say Kadri to Kessel? /splurt

The Monster, Jonas Gustavsson

Okay I didn't want to bring it up but Toskala looked completely hopeless this preseason. I've never seen scoring come so easily since the time I slipped roofies into...uhh...since we had Andrew Raycroft in net...yeah, that's it! Luckily Burke hauled in the Monster from Sweden this offseason. While we've only seen him play 3 periods of preseason hockey, he was flawless, even extending one of his tentacles to make this stop on a 2 on 0. I was already a believer when his name first appeared on the Leafs' radar, solely based on his SEL stats. After seeing him play, I have no doubt in my mind that he will supplant Toskala as the starter and will be one day mentioned in the same breath as past goalies like Johnny Bower, Felix Potvin, Curtis Joseph, Ed Belfour, etc. Donnybrooks

I love a good hockey fight and we're guaranteed to see a lot of them this season. The Leafs threw down 18 times this preseason. I believe the league average was around 0.60 scraps a game last year. Truculence will soon be the most searched term on google. PLAYOFFS!!!1

While we're still far from a Stanley Cup team, the pieces are there and the puzzle is starting to fill up. After four years without any playoff hockey, I'm glad that we will be returning to the post season this year. That's right, I said it. You better book a seat now because the bandwagon is filling up.