Friday, 1 February 2013

Leafs Line - The Frat-Factor

A Look Back:

While writing for my original Fishbowl I put my opinion out there (as I always do) about a young Leaf forward that I had a great deal of faith in. Went on to detail his relative success in the minors, his pre-Leafs-affiliation performance, and the impact he'd had in the few games Burke had him playing with the big boys. "That kid's going to be someone big on the Toronto offence" I'd say to anyone who'd listen... "That kid's going to do great things". It would seem that he's on the right track.

Before the Buds:

Raised in Edmonton, Alberta, Matt Frattin has had a bit of a rocky history before getting into the big leagues. Admitting to excess partying nearly being his downfall while at the University of North Dakota, being charged with a DUI, and losing his athletic scholarship all nearly ended his career in sports before it had even started but he was later cleared of all charges and made it back to join his North Dakota team mates.

Frattin has a history of being a very influential force in the sport, leading the NCAA Mens Division I in goals scored (2010-11) and he scored more goals in his senior season than in his first three years put together. He managed to pot a pair of game-winners in the WCHA playoffs and was awarded the WCHA Player of the Year honours.

This photo actually comes from a great article I found wherein Frattin is being interviewed about his success back in his North Dakota days. They cover his attitude looking ahead, his roles in major wins, him "leading the nation" in scoring and most amusingly about him pranking his coach... Randy Carlyle watch your back, this kid's got a mischievous streak in him although that may help to add levity should the team start trending downhill again this year. You can read the entire thing here if you'd like.

Some of the Numbers:

Here's a little chart from the Maple Leafs' official roster page for Frattin. You'll notice that he's developing a habit while in the NHL of scoring game-winners (must be a habit from his university days) and as it stands he's holding six points over his last four games played in two of which (the last two Toronto games in a row) he's put in the winner.

2010-2011MAPLE LEAFS1000-1000050.0
2010-2011UNIVERSITY OF NORTH DAKOTA-WCHA44362460421036
2011-2012MAPLE LEAFS568715-425002928.7
2011-2012TORONTO MARLIES-AHL2314418-2203036820.6
2012-2013MAPLE LEAFS442622002757.1
NHL TOTALS6112921-32700410411.5

Game-Winning Goals:

Now don't start believing the nega-hype from Buffalo netminder Ryan Miller, who'd have you be of the mind that he 'gave' Frattin the winning point by being in the wrong place, wrong time, and not covering the angles. Frattin shelfed the puck over Miller's right shoulder to put them over Buffalo and Miller was about as flush to the post as he could've been. With only two seconds left on the clock and in overtime it takes a certain something to muster up the confidence and composure to slide one past a netminder like Miller.

January 29th, 2013: TOR @ BUF - 4-3 Toronto in Overtime

"What a goal" is right!

I'd like to take just a quick second to point out that Frattin's 'first' NHL goal came in a shootout and so, didn't actually count as a goal scored on his numbers sheet. My ex and I had an "awwwe, Frattin" moment when we watched him nail the shootout as we both knew he'd be getting a lot of grief from the rest of the players about the technicality of it all.

January 31st, 2013: WSH @ TOR - 3-2 Toronto in Regulation Time

Unfortunately the goal hasn't made it onto Youtube yet (in a format I'm willing to post on here) but I do have the link to the Maple Leafs' official website which hosts an HD quality video of the play. You can watch the video here and I recommend that you do because it comes off of a beautifully salvaged play and a set of wonderful moves by the other youngster in Nazem Kadri. This pairing seems to be working much to the Leafs' advantage and I have no qualms in saying that they're going to be a line to watch for the rest of the season.

Going Forward:

The only thing that Frattin needs to be careful of right now is that he doesn't develop the same problems Kadri ran into when he first made waves in the NHL. Burke sent him (Kadri) back down to the Marlies for good reason as Kadri had -and still has to a lesser extent- a problem with his attitude, viewing himself as God's gift to hockey as it would seem. Sometimes a player just isn't ready for success and accolades and they get caught up in their own hype (see: Downfall of Alex Ovechkin for reference). However, if Frattin can keep this from going to his head and stay focused on the games ahead, we should see a highly productive career from him.

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