|To be fair the loss wasn't his fault. He just sucks.|
Gustavsson, stood on his head for most of the game. He was the victim of several odd man rushes, and had very little help from his defensemen (see: Kaberle on the Rangers second goal). I'm very impressed with how seasoned his game looks, and was worried he was due for a second season disaster (a la Raycroft, Mason). Gustavsson gave the Leaf forwards every chance to get back in the game tonight, and unfortunately he didn't receive a lick of support from anyone.
Exception to the Gustavsson support may be Luke Schenn. He has continued his solid play. In the first two periods he also was one of the better offensive players. Easily the best defenseman, but in all honesty Phaneuf and Komisarek didn't look too bad either. I'd just say I demand more from Phaneuf, and Komisarek may have been pulled down by a lousy partner.
Zigomanis has continued to be a faceoff juggernaut, penalty killer and all round good guy. It was great to see him get a couple of shifts with Kessel and Versteeg as a reward, even it was just to be out there for the faceoffs.
Grabovski continues to lead the offensive charge with his creativity, and I personally think he's responsible for making Clarke MacArthur a better player as well. He started the play that lead to Colby Armstrong's first goal, and drew a penalty late in the third that could have led to better times. It's worth noting that Grabovski draws more penalties than anyone else on this team, so please think of that before bashing arguably the Leafs second most talented forward.
Versteeg played a generally positive game, he's just not getting results, and it's frustrating for everyone. He was noticeable every time he was sent over the borders, and certainly wasn't guilty of not trying.
On the other hand, What The Hell Brett Lebda? I'm not saying that Gunnarsson was playing great, but he definitely isn't as shaky as Lebda. Granted he needs a bit more time with the team before he's ready to contribute, but that needs to come in practice not at the cost of putting him out there in the last five minutes of the game. He seems to want to contribute too much offensively and he's getting caught up there. If Ron Wilson gave Gunnarsson the freedom to make the decisions that Lebda is making, he'd find that he can fill the role much more efficiently. I'll throw this out there, between the top five the Leafs don't need to rely on the sixth defenseman. Lebda needs to be seeing a Garnett Exelby-esque six minutes a night if he's going to be in the lineup. Second PP unit, and when the rest of the D is overtired is the only time we should see him.
Bozak getting benched certainly points to a bad night, and there isn't any argument here. He has the teams two best offensive weapons at his disposal and he couldn't produce. If he wants to be a top line centre he's going to have to deal with the expectations.
Beauchemin, I rag on Beauchemin fairly regularly, and tonight wasn't an exception. He needs to step up his game or he will start getting called out by smarter people than me. He's making a smart first move regularly, but his stick-to-it-iveness is lacking, and second efforts keep on beating him.
What happens now? It may be time for the line juggler to make his first appearance. We saw hints of this with Colby Armstrong playing up with Grabovski and MacArthur, and getting results. We also inexplicably saw Kulemin centering Versteeg and Kessel. I'm not going to count on seeing that second one again, but I'm sure something is in the works to spice up the lines. I don't want to see John Mitchell as part of this shake up, but I wouldn't mind seeing Armstrong find his way into the top six for a couple of games at the expense of Versteeg seeing a bit of time on the third line. On defense, I don't like the idea of swapping partners (it's also why I don't get invited to key parties.), however I wouldn't mind seeing Komisarek paired with Phaneuf, and see Beauchemin reunited with Gunnarsson who worked we together last season.
It's just one loss, but it was a pretty miserable one. I doesn't warrant blowing things up, and mass changes, but it certainly points to the fact that this team will face hardships this season from time to time. Just please spare to Richards to Toronto trade talk for now as it's probably not going to happen.
Since everyone is a little down, here is a quick pick me up. Click Here for the Amazon Customer Reviews of Damien Cox's new book the The Ovechkin Project. Your Welcome. Have a Good Night!