That’s Dave Keon with a scoring chance against former Leaf Gary Smith. Leafs fans have been heading west to beat up on expansion teams forever. Also in photo (I believe) are #2 Doug Roberts and #10 Ted Hampson. So this would be maybe 1969.
The Leafs come into town below .500 (11-14-4) and are 4-5-1 in their last 10. Their problem once again appears to be goaltending. J-S Giguere has a randy .894SP and the Great Big Monster is sitting at .902.
Hammerhead Phaneuf is back, giving the defense both a neanderthal look and feel. Phaneuf is having a time in Toronto, as he doesn’t appear to be as reckless physically while also not managing to be maturing in the decision making process. Luke Schenn on the other hand appears to be the real deal.
I do like some of their forwards, specifically that Kulemin fellow and rugged Colby Armstrong. The Leafs are better than their record and should win tonight going away. If you’re a Ron Wilson fan, have a good long look at him tonight because odds are the raven will be rat-tat-tatting on his chamber door to relieve him of his coaching duties any day now.
Speaking of coaches, ex-Roger Neilson pupil Craig Ramsay has his Atlanta Thrashers in a tie for 5th in the eastern conference. Rick Dudley has done a nice job of putting some pieces in place and no one is mourning the loss of Ilya Kovalchuk in the land of Chipper Jones. I think the Leafs should hire someone like Ramsay, he seems to be able to motivate and be respectful at the same time.
Your Edmonton Oilers are bleeding shots against since the injuries to Horcoff and Hemsky. This should continue although Tom Renney could help his cause by line matching a little better when at home. Bob Stauffer mentioned yesterday that he thought MacIntyre and Stortini would draw into the lineup so there will probably be a few fights (more trips to the beer fridge!).
Renney moved Sam Gagner off the gifted kids line and placed Cogliano in the middle of Hall and Eberle the other night. At first blush it seems like a terrible idea, but that top line hasn’t been performing since Horcoff went down and the alternative is Colin Fraser so it’s a case of rock meet hard place.
Jim Vandermeer is injured (ankle? really? poor bugger) so Jason Strudwick draws in.
The kids have a tendency to come back strong after a disappointing effort. It’ll be interesting to see how they react to a road crowd at Rexall tonight.