Now the title is a Game of Thrones joke, as far as Dion’s case anyways. I woke up to a message from a buddy that Dion was traded and I was like “ok, surprising but ok, to who?” and then message number 2 popped up “OTTAWA!” ,“…what?” .
You can’t ask for more than we got from the man who accepted the captaincy of a flawed team and worked his ass off every day. What a lot of people conveniently forget is that until recently Dion’s regular defense partner was Carl Gunnarson, and we never surrounded him with the proper talent to succeed. Dion also sacrificed his own numbers for the good of the team with Cody Franson being the go to trigger man on the powerplay for years, despite his propensity for being caught in no man’s land as the high guy and making the whole unit look bad as well.
The trade is phenomenal for our team, but Dion was a leader and an example for our young guys who will be sorely missed. The Leafs were clear in their message however, that the young guns on the blueline are trusted to step up as leaders. Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner no longer have Dion to lean on, and it’s time especially for Morgan to prove that he can run the powerplay effectively. This is his moment.
With that we will move into part 2 of my day, with it being announced that the Leafs are missing out on yet another Centennial event that the Habs were granted, in the draft. This speaks of nothing but disrespect for a team that has contributed significantly to the leagues success from day 1.
What’s funny is that, while we haven’t won in about 50 years, we STILL have the second most Stanley Cups. Think about that. Everyone else has had 50 years to catch up, and the only team to even come close is the Red Wings, another Original 6 team who played through the same Era we did.
The NHL bent over backwards for the Montreal Canadiens during their Centennial season, and we’ll have to wait for the next Centennial team to see if this is just a Leafs specific snub, of if Montreal is the NHL’ favourite child, but my money is on the former. I know it won’t happen, but it would be sweet justice to see the city of Toronto – as a people – boycott the NHL’s sham-Olympics the “World Cup” in revenge. But that’s probably just me being spiteful.
Today’s blog will be a 2-for-1 special. I had to move over the week and wasn’t really able to catch the games in full, so let’s catch the game in 6 for both and… and see that Nazem Kadri and Tyler Bozak have become Gods, apparently.
Real talk now. WHAT. A. HIT. Good God the Dream laid the smackdown on Marchand. He had his whiny face on for a minute or two after he took that hit, and it was glorious considering what he does to us. Naz wasn’t great on the dot over the past few games before they hit the B’s, which is thankfully starting to become uncharacteristic, but he put up 2 points and was a +3 on the night so you can’ really complain on that front.
Mo’ Riels continues to show up strong game in and game out with an assist off a shot from the point. And, Optimus Reim has thrown together a win streak, which is nice in small bursts this season (Come on Matthews) but whats impressive is his consistently above .920 save %. Reimer has clearly shown that if he hasn’t been hit in the head, he’s a world-beater.
Last but not least on my “list of guys to talk about” is Tyler Bozak. BOOST YOUR VALUE BUDDY! He is an absolute MONSTER on faceoffs. I went through the backlog of game stats and it’s easier to count the number of games where he’s been below 50%. 12. 12 games out of 46. Just above a quarter. so 74% of all games, Bozak will win you at least half of the Draws he takes.
Now lets get to the Team as a whole. Did anyone see this last year? For a team of misfit forwards, they show a hell of a lot of heart game in and game out. Usually it’s been in the form of not laying up 2 stinker games in a row, but these past 2 games it’s been in the form of pushing back and getting the win despite everything saying they wouldn’t. We’ve heard it all year that this team was going to have to score by committee and that’s rung even more true since JVR went down. Parenteau when he has time and space (the shoot out and the powerplay, vs his lame-duckness on 5-v-5) Shawn Matthias, Leo “All Star/Leading Scorer” Komarov. Guys who we’d have never expected to be as effective as they are, are getting it done. This is what happens when you have a proper support network through management. Everyone knew Horacheck wasn’t expected to win, and The Toastmaster should never have been brought back last year at the start, but In the long run it got us Babcock, and that’s what’ll propel the Leafs forward in the long run.