Posts Tagged ‘Nik Kulemin’

Oh yeah, so that’s why we were attempting to trade one of our better defenseman in the off-season, for a top centre.  Although it is still early with a long way to go, five shots in five games is just not going to cut it.  That is the shot total for our incumbent first line centre Tyler Bozak and you don’t have to be a hockey aficionado to realize that is just an unacceptable level of production for a supposed top line forward  and especially your top line centre.  Outside of one nice setup and two other cheap assists Bozak (6 games, 0 goals, 3 assists, 5 shots) hasn’t quite been performing to the level we expected going into this season.

The jury was definitely out and Leafs fans were split when discussing and debating whether Bozak had the goods to be the main man and be the playmaker for our best goal scorer in Phil Kessel and I’d say the results thus far have left more doubters than believers at this point.  The Leafs were desperately trying to land a top six centre and you can certainly see why Brian Burke felt this was a necessity as the Leafs simply do not have one on this roster.

Tyler Bozak played two shifts in the third period and Mike Zigomanis found himself on the top line late in the second period after Ron Wilson had seen enough.  Even Nik Kulemin took a turn at centre at one point late in the third period as the Leafs were desperate to give the offense some much needed life.  If the Brad Richard to Toronto rumours haven’t officially started I think it is safe to say they might very well start now.

No need to panic though as I was never that high during the four game winning streak and I won’t get too low during a short two game losing streak.  There was bound to be a night where we just weren’t the better team on the ice and for the majority of the game tonight the Maple Leafs were just soundly outplayed in almost all aspects of the game as they lost there first regulation time game 2-1 to the New York Rangers. 

The Rangers outhit, outshot and out hustled the Maple Leafs.  We might start finding it harder to score when Clarke MacArthur isn’t putting the puck in the net at an Alex Ovechkin like pace during the first four games.  We were sloppy and turned the puck over repeatedly and hardly anyone not named Luke Schenn (or Jonas Gustavsson) had a very good game for the Leafs.

Somebody needs to wake Nik Kulemin up and tell Kris Versteeg he is now on the first line and he can feel free to score anytime now as the pair has been fairly abysmal since the first game of the year.  Our sand paper was solid again but there impact will always be negligible based on relatively low minutes for the third and especially fourth line.  Luke Schenn played a very solid and smart game most of the night, throwing some massive hits and showing poise and patience with the puck and even displaying a few dangles.

Derek Boogard and Colton Orr finally fought tonight, the first time they have ever met and it was a very spirited and highly anticipated bout.  First, TSN had some shoddy camera work after Pierre Maguire warned they were about to go at it the camera instead was focused on the Leafs in the offensive zone for at least six seconds after the whistle had blown. 

Luckily they showed a replay of the entire fight and it was fairly close with Boogard scoring a close decision in my opinion.  Orr got the jump and landed a few decent right hands early but Boogard had a huge and undeniable reach advantage and pounded Orr with quite a few good ones before Orr got an impressive takedown to end the fight and the crowd on it’s feet.  Did you know that Boogard hasn’t scored an NHL goal since early in the year 2006?  Colton Orr is a sniper (4 goals or so per season) compared to the Boogey Man when considering Boogard has scored only 2 career goals in nearly 600 NHL games!

Chalk it up to a tough night and a determined New York Rangers team but this game did remind all of us exactly why Brian Burke was hoping he could add a legitimate top centre to a roster not exactly brimming with offensive dynamos or physical specimens capable of driving the net and creating the needed space for our skilled wingers to operate with a bit more freedom. 

So no points tonight, the first game that claim can be made and gaining nine points out of a possible twelve is a run I’d take anyday of the week.  Let’s get refocused and put in a solid effort versus the hated Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday and get back in that win column, quickly.

What would you be willing to move for Brad Richards?

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What a difference twenty four hours can make, of course it might also have to do with a completely different roster of players.  Whatever it was, the Toronto Maple Leafs had a lot more jump and looked very impressive in their 4-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators.  Here are a few observations on some individual performances.

-Once again, Jay Rosehill was a big contributor with his underrated speed and physical presence.  Attacking defenders on the forecheck and leaving no man standing in his wake, Rosey has been one of my favourite Leafs for the past two years, I would love to see him get a 4th line role with the team this year.

Tyler Bozak is here to stay, the kid is legit.  He looks bigger and stronger but unlike Nazem Kadri he still appears to have all of the skills that make him effective, namely, his speed and overall vision on the ice.

Luca Caputi had a strong game and is starting to show glimpses of the potential that made the Pittsburgh Penguins originally draft Caputi as he notched a goal and an assist and a strong physical presence.

Phil Kessel was his normal dynamic self and Nik Kulemin appears poised to take another step forward this year in his development.

Luke Schenn appears to have regained his confidence and showcased an improving level of confidence and poise en route to a very solid game.  If Schenn is only our #5 or 6 defenseman the Leafs are in amazing shape on the blue line.  Jesse Blacker looked like a major leaguer and will give the Leafs even more headaches when trying to decide the final NHL roster before the season starts.

Mikael Grabovski has a boatload of skill and talent, if he puts in the work I see a big year for our #2 centre.  I expect him to play with Kris Versteeg and possibly Clarke MacArthur or Colby Armstrong and potentially score 25 goals and hopefully net 65 points if he can stay healthy.

-Good to see Mike Komisarek back in action, if he can play a smart and simple game he could be a big time addition to the Leafs backend.  If you don’t notice him much, it means he is having a good game, when he tried to over compensate and act like a crazy head hunter is when his game suffers.

All in all a much improved effort with the Leafs showcasing a pretty impressive combo of speed, skill and truculence (I had to say it).  When I think of the two different groups the Leafs put on the ice in game one and two I am actually pretty excited to think of assembling the best 4 lines of forwards and top 6 defenseman and turning it into one complete roster, I think the Leafs could surprise a few teams this year regardless of the rest of the preseason, Brian Burke has this team heading in the right direction.