The Maple Leafs took a backseat the last few weeks to the Blue Jays, who were playing in the Playoffs for the first time since 1993. A relevant and successful Toronto team is something most of us can barely wrap our heads around, but it really did happen and it was amazing.
Removed from the moment, I don’t even care now that they lost. They were entertaining and they just got unlucky. They could easily have been playing in the World Series next week and there is no shame in falling just short.
David Price was amazing last night. I hope the Jays find a way to bring him back, because despite the insane amount of annoying puns you have to put up with when there’s a successful guy named Price around, it’s worth it to have one of the best pitchers in the world on your team. I can’t wait until the next season starts.
As for the Leafs, they’ll be playing the Canadiens tonight and will hopefully be the ones to end their lousy eight game winning streak.
Jake Gardiner and Tyler Bozak will both miss tonight’s game and maybe even a few more as they have both been placed on the IR. Peter Holland will likely be a healthy scratch as the Leafs promote Byron Froese to the NHL. Froese will make his NHL debut tonight after being drafted by the Blackhawks in the fourth round in 2009.
Projected Leafs lines tonight: van Riemsdyk-Kadri-Komarov. Winnik-Spaling-Lupul. Matthias-Arcobello-Boyes. Grabner-Froese-Parenteau.
— Jonas Siegel (@jonassiegel) October 24, 2015
I think it’s unfair to scratch Peter Holland when you look at the players the Leafs are dressing. He’s been a solid possession player (58%) so far, and even if he doesn’t have any ES points, I don’t think he’s played badly at all, especially when you consider his two most common linemates have been Arcobello and Paranteau – not exactly all-stars.
But, at the same time, the Leafs have Kadri who is excellent, and Komarov who has been very good and then a whole bunch of basically no-name OK-to-decent but not very good forwards. It wouldn’t surprise me if Babcock just flipped a coin between Arcobello and Holland because honestly, when your “second” line is Winnik-Spaling-Lupul, what does anything possibly matter at all?
Frankly, without Gardiner the Leafs are barely an expansion team. While I am annoyed at all the “Gardiner has Improved” articles (because he’s basically always been good) his ascension to the teams no-questions best player has definitely been awesome.
Now, I know we’re only six games into the season, but Gardiner has a 60% CF rating, and EVERY SINGLE PLAYER on the team has a worse possession rating when they aren’t on the ice with Gardiner vs when they are. Every single one.
So the Leafs are playing Montreal, and Carey Price, without their best player, while the Habs are in the midst of an eight game winning streak. It sounds bad on paper, but maybe the Leafs are due: their possession stats say they should score more and Kadri is shooting about 3% and deserves a little luck. I think they can do it.
Thanks for reading.
Covering the Leafs for the Hockey Writers.