Going into tonight's tilt against the 2-1-2 Islanders of New York, the Toronto Maple Leafs have replaced young defense man Carl Gunnarsson with veteran Brett Lebda and for his part, Lebda who recently recovered from a hip injury is taking the pressure of possibly being the fly in the ointment all in stride.
“If I go in there and we lose, I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Lebda said jokingly after Sunday’s practice.
Gunnarsson had had a bit of a rough camp and his un characteristic lack of confidence has carried over into the regular season, and while many fans and media may see this move as potentially a bad omen, Lebda replacing Gunnarsson had as much to do with strategy as it did performance.
It simply made more sense to ease Lebda back in on the heals of an injury by putting him with Komisarek on the third defensive pairing. The Leafs top four of Beauchemin, Kaberle, Schenn and Phaneuf have been getting the lions share of the work averaging almost 24 minutes a game while the third pairing had only been getting around 13.
When someone asked him whether it was coaching or personnel that transformed the Leafs penalty kill, Ron Wilson answered without flinching.
“Personnel,” he said.
Even with all of the uncertainty surrounding Wilson's job this past off season, it appears as though he may know what he's doing after all.
There are still many who are waiting for the other shoe to drop, and for the Toronto Maple Leafs to start living up to, or down to, a more realistic standard. What should that standard be?
That isn't an easy question to answer given the buzz around Leafs Nation for most of the off season was 'potential'.
'Potential' is impossible to gauge, no matter how popular a 'hockey expert' you think you are.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are tied for first in the NHL after a week and a half of regular season play and there is really no reason to think that they could falter anytime soon. Some one will find a reason, some one always does, but you won't find one here.
Mike Ulmer of TML.com said in a recent story, 'the next person to crack a joke about the Leafs parade route is going to be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy in a most unpleasant way'.
While some are prone to result to the 'jerseying' of an annoying Ottawa Senators fan, Mike goes on to offer a some what more subtle approach and offers these ten potential response' to any joke referring to a Leafs fan planning a parade route.
1. “Shut up.”
2. “Yes, the route will take it past your house, forever”
3. “Those riot cops are going to need someone to pummel. Just sayin’.”
4. “Anyone still remember the route the Habs used?”
5. “I’ll be partying my keister off. You’re not invited.”
6. “You’re right, it will be awful. If I were you, I’d leave town for at least the next five years just to be safe.”
7. “You know, my Mom is going to the parade. Anything wrong with that?”
8. “It’s not the route for the parade. It’s the route for the first parade.”
9. “Yes, we have the route picked out. Turn left at Versteeg Avenue and follow Giguere Lane to the end. Can’t miss it.”
10. “Parade route, eh. Your kid think that up for you?”