Thursday, 31 January 2013

Leafs Line - Globe and Mail Gruff

Why I Don't Read the Paper:

I was just reading an article by Robert Macleod of The Globe and Mail today and it inspired me to write this little piece. The article -which you can read here- took some liberties in criticising the rookie defenceman Mike Kostka saying that he (and Phaneuf) are "not delivering despite plenty of ice time".

What Team are YOU Watching?

As it stands right now Toronto has a 3-3-0 record in this modified season. Considering that they've managed to draw to a game a-piece with the Buffalo Sabres who have a record of being Leaf-killers and that they've also managed to oust the highly-regarded Pittsburgh Penguins amongst their wins fans should be happy we're not worse-off than we are.

So maybe his game isn't 'godly' but he's pretty damned
good... Also the resemblance is uncanny.
Although the numbers don't say much about the new Toronto D-man (save for his 3 assists) those who have actually watched the game and his attitude on the ice would know that Kostka is nothing but an asset to a Toronto team that has been so lacking in defencemen willing to put their heart into the game. Now maybe it's just because he's desperate to prove that he deserves the spot he's been given on the team, but even still it's a player displaying real heart and determination, going to lengths that were unheard of from former defenceman Luke Schenn during his time with the club. How Brian Burke managed to ignore Kostka while sporting a raging hockey hard-on for Schenn is beyond me but then again, I'm not a general manager of the Leafs am I? Yeah well neither is Burkie anymore so HA!

Back to the real issue here, Kostka's willing to jump up into the play yet knows when not to push his luck. He's thrown himself across the blue ice in front of the net to prevent goals, and he has no problems hitting when the time calls for it. He has more than kept pace with the (for reasons I'm no longer able to comprehend) much-loved Dion Phaneuf and after all of this, in his rookie start during a season that can be described as nothing other than FUBAR, The Globe and Mail wants to blast him? Give me a break.

Scapegoat Much?

Could it be that TG&M (The Globe & Mail) is just looking to blame someone new for the Leaf's not having an undefeated season? Are they looking for someone expendable to shoulder the blame for shortcomings we as fans have been witness to for the last number of years? It just seems to me that the critics always seem to jump on the backs of the newest team members while ignoring the failings of those before them. I will give Macleod some credit in that he doesn't absolve Phaneuf of HIS sins on the ice, but to start nit-picking the play of Kostka seems a little hasty. Yes he has the second worst +/- in the league, only above Dion Phaneuf, but both of these players have been given -by far- the most ice time per game through the following match-ups:
  • TOR @ MON: 2-1 TOR
  • BUF @ TOR: 2-1 BUF
  • TOR @ PIT: 5-2 TOR
  • NYI @ TOR: 7-4 NYI
  • TOR @ NYR: 5-2 NYR
  • TOR @ BUF: 4-3 TOR
So facing heavy-handed Sabres and Rangers squads, an ever-potent Pittsburgh offence and a sixth-ranked New York Islanders (in the conference) it's no surprise that they could be expecting high goals-against games. Really the killer factors here are that they've been put out on the penalty kill, and that coach Randy Carlyle has admitted to insisting that Dion and often Kostka be out for defensive zone faceoffs... Faceoffs that aren't being won and as such you see the defensive pairing trapped in their own end, typically on fumes with no chance to switch off and get some relief.

The fact is that we've had 20 goals scored against us, while only managing to score 15 ourselves. Consider that a decent few of those have been powerplay goals and as such, would not count towards any positive rating and a clearer picture begins to develop. I honestly don't feel that Kostka of all players really deserves to be thrown under the bus or sniped at with the amount of work he's been doing each game. Some things simply don't show up in numbers, especially not this early in the season.

 Send It Upstairs:

So what's your review readers? How do you feel about our top defensive line's performance thus far? Satisfied? Left wanting? Comment on the post and let me know. Aside from that, until next time...

Enjoy your swim!

Joshua J. Taylor

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