Let’s be clear, Leo Komarov isn’t going to lead the Leafs in scoring and the Leafs aren’t likely to maintain their high possession ways with the roster that they have. Certainly James Van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak have way too long of a history putting up lousy possession stats to read too much into their current top-of-the-league Corsi ratings.
That doesn’t mean that these aren’t all good things. The Mike Babcock era so far has been categorized by great efforts and up-tempo hockey. He has utilized players like Jake Gardiner and Komarov (players who drive possession) to great effect, putting them with players that they will help have success.
Overall, I like what I have seen from the Leafs so far from in almost every game. The team isn’t going to make the playoffs this year, so I’ll settle for fun to watch and improved play and so far that is what we’re getting.
Bozak was injured in the game Friday night and missed Saturday’s game against the Penguins. While it is impressive that he’s gone up against the top forwards the Leafs have played so far and posted strong possession numbers, his injury isn’t exactly a huge blow to the team.
Don’t get me wrong, Bozak does make the Leafs a better team when he’s in the lineup (because he’s a better player than Marc Arcobello, obviously, and because he lets Babcock put Nazem Kadri against players he can exploit) but for the long-term good of the team, it’s better if Bozak is not on it.
I am not happy the guy is hurt, obviously that sucks, but when he isn’t playing the Leafs have no choice but to play for the future and put Kadri against other teams best players, as well as to give Holland (who may actually be better than Bozak anyways) more ice time. (Holland got almost four extra minutes 5v5 with Bozak out of the lineup).
If the newspapers are correct, Bozak isn’t seriously injured and he will play Wednesday, but considering Kadri had his best game of the year with Bozak in the pressbox, it would be prudent to trade him as soon as humanly possible. If the Leafs can parlay his strong start into any kind of draft pick and someone else paying him, then they will have made an excellent transaction.
Marlies & Marner
After starting 2-0 and having a week off, the Marlies returned Saturday and beat the Albany Devils 3-2 on the back of a William Nylannder two point performance. They then lost Sunday by the same score.
In the game Sunday Nylander had an assist, to give him points in three of the Marlies four games, for a total of five points. From all the highlights I have seen this kid is awesome and I absolutely cannot wait until he is in the NHL. I know the Leafs are preaching patience, and I welcome that, but if he continues to score a multi-point game every other night, he’s going to force the Leafs’ hand sooner than later.
Also of note is that Kasperi Kapanen scored his first goal for the Marlies on the weekend.
As for Mitch Marner, he has a nice ten points in seven games and will more than likely take his place among the league leaders shortly.
The Leafs (1-3-1) take on the Sabres (1-4-0) on Wednesday. I expect Bozak to play and James Reimer to start, but that’s a long ways off, so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.
Enjoy your election and baseball game.
Thanks for reading.
Covering the Leafs for the Hockey Writers.