Sign in with your NHL account:
  • Submit
  • Or
  • Sign in with Google
MapleLeafs.com proudly sponsored by ROGERS™ Welcome to the Official Site of Leafs Nation - MapleLeafs.com
 

Surprise: Ten keys to the new Maple Leafs season.

The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Toronto Maple Leafs. All opinions expressed by Mike Ulmer are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Toronto Maple Leafs or its Hockey Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Maple Leafs and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NHL accredited member of the media.
Dion Phaneuf will start the season on left defence.

Dion Phaneuf will start the season on left defence.

The Toronto Maple Leafs open their season tonight in Montreal. By coincidence, I see 10 storylines.

  1. The Marlies factor. Friday was the best day in the history of the Toronto Marlies.  Of the Leafs 23 players, eight (Colton Orr, Ben Scrivens, Leo Komarov,  Nazem Kadri, Mark Fraser,  Mike Kostka, Korbinian Holzer and Ben Scrivens) played significant roles for the Marlies this season or last under coach Dallas Eakins. “Dallas was a huge influence,” said Fraser. “The responsibility, the ice time, the compliments, it helped me get that hunger back. You start to doubt yourself but Dallas, from what he said to me to what he said to the media, he made such a big difference.”
  2. The second-chance kids. Kostka is breaking into the NHL at 27 on a pairing with Dion Phaneuf. Cody Franson endured a rocky season and saw his confidence plummet with the Leafs. Orr was sent down last season and struggled with the effects of a concussion. Leo Komarov is reaching the NHL at 25 in his eighth pro season. Plenty of room for people to boost their stock.  “For me it’s about to get harder,” Komarov said. “I have to prove to everyone I can play here.”
  3. The new vibe. Coach Randy Carlyle has established a hard-working feeling.   He preached accountability and merit and then dispatched highly-paid veterans Tim Connolly and Matt Lombardi. The move to send Matt Frattin back to the Marlies after a middling week at camp showed he was willing to make the hard decisions with young players.  Captain Dion Phaneuf will start on the left side with Kostka instead of his traditional spot of right defence. “Randy’s come in and he’s asked us to work hard and we’ve done that for him,” Phaneuf said. “We feel good about the group we have here and what we’ve done over the training camp.”
  4.  Bringing back Orr. Nothing speaks to Carlyle’s bluntness more than the repatriation of Colton Orr. Orr was a concussed tough guy who seemed on the way out when he was sent down to the Marlies last season. Carlyle made him a deal. He would get another look if he proved himself to be a serious, committed pro. Orr is a chiseled 220 pounds and back on the team. “We want our players to be comfortable going on the ice and Colton Orr brings protection and a good work ethic, strong leadership qualities,” Carlyle said. “He’s earned it.
  5. Grabovski-MacArthur and Kulemin. It is vital for the Leafs to return a superior second line. That means a return to form for Nikolai Kulemin who sagged from 30 goals to seven last season. Kulemin banked more than a point a game in the KHL during the lockout.
  6. The new Naz. Nazem Kadri is finally getting his shot after conquering what had been a wandering attention span. Kadri played 119 games for the Marlies and delivered 107 points. He’s just 22 years old and hungry. Eakins called him his team’s most competitive player.  “I’m going to work hard and try not to take my foot off the gas pedal,” Kadri said.
  7. Damning with faint praise. Clearly, the challenge has been issued to goalie James Reimer. Carlyle jolted listeners when he said his toughest decision will be which goalie to start in Montreal. GM Dave Nonis has used the words adequate and NHL calibre to describe Reimer. Everyone seems to have forgotten that before he was hurt Reimer had compiled 24-10-6 career record, a 2.63 goals against average and a .920 save percentage. Nonis has said he is seeking experienced netminding and the big issue was price. It seems Reimer has a short leash.
  8. The penalty kill. No more need be said.
  9. The energy line. Kadri between James vanRiemsdyk and Komarov should be worth the price of admission. Kadri is chirpy, Komarov is downright fearless. The biggest of the three, vanRiemsdyk goes hard to the net. Hell is about to be raised.
  10. The Burke factor. For the first time in years, the most visible face in Leafsland will no longer be the GM. Burke deserves a bucketful of praise for the way he reinvigorated the development system, fostered Nonis and positioned the Leafs to be big spenders come July 5.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

About Mike Ulmer

Mike Ulmer has written 210 post in this blog.

The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Toronto Maple Leafs. All opinions expressed by Mike Ulmer are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Toronto Maple Leafs or its Hockey Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Maple Leafs and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NHL accredited member of the media.



torontomapleleafs.com is the official Web site of the Toronto Maple Leafs Hockey Club. The Maple Leafs and mapleleafs.com are trademarks of MLSE.  NHL and the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup are registered trademarks and the NHL Shield and NHL Conference logos are trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P.  Copyright © 2010 MLSE and the National Hockey League.  All Rights Reserved.


Terms Of Use | Contact Us | Employment Opportunities | Advertise on mapleleafs.com | Privacy Policy | NHL.com Terms of Use | Site Map