The Toronto Maple Leafs are a hot mess. Certain members of the family care way more about where players are from than how good they are. Some players just don’t show up very often. Then too, there is the question of what sort of maturity (if any) the roster possess as a whole.

Good News

  • Phil Kessel will almost certainly turn in another damn good October.
  • All of last years youngsters gained valuable NHL experience, and several of them got AHL playoff experience playing for the Marlies,
  • Their most important forward, Mikhail Grabovski is locked up long term.

Bad News

  • Goaltending is more than a question it’s a problem.
  • The issue of consistency for the whole team is still up in the air,
  • The defense needs to tighten up dramatically.

Forecast

High: Bubble team, finding some equilibrium in the neighborhood of their best play and shifting three of their overtime losses to regulation wins, and three regulation losses to wins would be a nine point swing. It’d be easy to point out six close games they could have done better in.

Low:  Afterthought/lottery. Injuries to Kessel or Grabovski up front, or Reimer failing to improve or getting worse will doom this team.

X-Factor

Neither the Sabres nor the Canadiens improved much, if at all this off season, and with the young players coming in a little more confident and experienced, this team could see a big bounce if Reimer returns to the .921sv% he put up over his first half season in the NHL. How much pressure Burke feels to make a good impression on the new ownership and keep his job will also be important. You also can’t forget the possibility of a big trade that improves the goaltending.

Everyone knew coming into this game that the Toronto Maple Leafs were not merely hungry, but ravenous. The Bruins were coming in off a pasting of the Chicago BlackHawks. The two teams have traded back and forth over the years with the two most recent ones being blockbusters with Kessel going north in the first and Kaberle coming south in the second.
The Maple Leafs got a pair of lucky bounces that while the result of hard work, were never going to be drawn up on any coaches board. The Bruins battled well after the first fifteen minutes, with several players looking very good, some looking like it was morning skate, and one player looking like he wasn’t sure why he was on the ice. Marchand showing his heart, hustle and skill by blowing past the Maple Leafs defender and scoring a shorthanded goal. Michael Ryder who had been scratched several games and came back and played well, not just for a contract but like he wanted to win. Lucic was pugnacious getting in Komisareks face and eventually dropping the gloves with career bench warmer Jay Rosehill.
The problem player, and the problem that failed to be addressed at the trade deadline was Thomas Kaberle, and the powerplay. Zero for five on the powerplay with a guy billed as one of the best powerplay quarterbacks and puckmoving defensemen in the NHL. The truth is that Kaberle isn’t that good, and the Bruins powerplay is worse than it was when he arrived and worse than last season with Mr. Maybe-Sometimes and without Marc Savard for most of the year. Kaberle has exactly as many powerplay goals as he does shorthanded ones, which as you probably guessed is zero. As an “offensive dynamo” you’d expect him to have more game winning goals on the season than someone who gets pitched into the net more often than he scores like Mark Stuart, but nope they each have one.
Since his acquisition we’ve been shown little to justify the price that was paid to get him. He was the last of the three trade pieces to score a goal, and did it against Alex Auld who had been on the ice all of three minutes in relief. Early in the game  he failed to perform a simple clear and made a better setup for his protege Luke Schenn than he has for any of his current team mates.  Tonight, in overtime, on a powerplay, in the last minute of play, Kaberle turned to retrieve a puck that  had been cleared by the team some people aren’t sure he knows he’s been traded from, and went up the ice at a pace Gordie Howe could probably still surpass going backwards. That’s not a winning player, that’s not winning hockey, that’s not what the Bruins needed.
Instead of Chris Kelly who’s been largely invisible, and Kaberle who’s picture should adorn a dictionary entry for ineffectual. If the front office had had the manhood to go after Chris Stewart, then of the Avalanche, well, he has 20 points in 21 games since landing in Saint Louis, seven of those points are powerplay goals.Since they arrived, Kaberle has seven points, Peverley six, and Kelly 2. Presumably had the Bruins ponied up, Joe Colborne, a first round pick and a conditional second round pick as the did to get Kaberle ($4,300,000 per year), they could have grabbed Chris Stewart($2,500,000 per year) and possibly had the cap space to keep Mark Stuart instead of signing a guy who hadn’t played in 10 months, in Shane Hnidy. Chris Campoli (#1,400,000 per) would have been as worthy an addition as either Kaberle or Kelly.
So, who’s to blame for tonights loss? Not Ryder or Thomas, its neither Krejci nor Chara, Ference chipped in a goal, and McQuaid was impressive. If there is blame to be laid, and I don’t see how there couldn’t be, it goes Kaberle for being lazy, and unfit for high stakes hockey, Chiarelli for failing to recognize it, and Neely for allowing the trade to be made at all.