Friday, October 30, 2009
Leafs Send Down Stalberg
Yesterday, in preparation for tonight's game in Buffalo, the Maple Leafs called up Jiri Tlusty and sent down Viktor Stalberg and Joey Mac to the Toronto Marlies of the AHL.
I understand sending down Joey MacDonald. He didn't win when he started and with Vesa healthy, there was just no space left for him with the team. I also understand calling up Tlusty. A first round pick in 2006 (13th overall), Tlusty has shown flashes of talent at the NHL level but has failed to produce consistently. Last year in the AHL, Tlusty was fantastic and produced at a point per game level. He has continued to produce in the AHL this year and he could be taking a step in the right direction.
I do not understand sending down Stalberg, however. He looked fantastic in the preseason and, despite his lack of production, he has been receiving plenty of minutes and has been a good player for the Maple Leafs. If he was playing on the last line and not getting any playing time, I would understand. Since he has been playing, I think he should be allowed to work on his game at the NHL level instead of sending him to play against a weaker level of competition.
Tonight is Toronto vs. Buffalo. Here are a few key points I think will lead to success for the Blue & White.
1. Defence, defence, defence! The Leafs have seen Jonas Gustavsson make big saves over and over. Now, it's time for the defence to step up and lighten his workload. Against a quick, skilled team like Buffalo, it is important to make them work to the outside and keep them from using their quickness to cut into the slot. Toronto needs to use their size and strength on the backend to grind the Buffalo forwards against the boards and make them tired. This will slow their forecheck and create more opportunities on the breakout for the Leafs forwards.
2. Discipline. The penalty kill has slightly improved, but is still a huge liability for the team. What is a good way to neutralize this weakness? Stay out of the box! It is almost impossible to stay out of the penalty box for the entire game, but a good team can limit the time they spend a man down. Don't take dumb roughing penalties after the play and DO NOT take penalties while in the attacking zone!
3. Momentum. Toronto has played well in two straight now and needs to come out strong. They need to set the tone and carry the momentum they have built up forward into the HSBC Arena. Toronto has been taking a lot of shots on goal and creating chances. They need to continue that and force Ryan Miller to play a perfect game.
If the Leafs can focus on these key points, then tonights game should be a fun one.