Leafs' lesser lines need to start producing
Steve Buffery, QMI Agency
Toronto Maple Leafs forward David Steckel (R) is checked by Phoenix Coyotes defenceman David Schlemko (C) in front of Coyotes goalie Mike Smith during the first period of their NHL hockey game in Toronto on Nov. 15, 2011. (REUTERS/Mike Cassese)
TORONTO - Philippe Dupuis now has no goals on 20 shots in 16 games.
Tuesday night against the Phoenix Coyotes, Dupuis managed three shots on goal, including a nice re-direction in front of goaltender Mike Smith in the first period, who made a good save. Dupuis played quite well overall against Phoenix, even earning a regular shift in overtime.
And while you can’t rely on your fourth line centre to contribute goals on a regular basis, the position should provide some offence once in a while. But not only does Dupuis have zero goals in 16 games, he has zero points. Hell, even knuckles pizano, Colton Orr — who has played just two games — and Mike Brown have goals.
Is it time to make a change? Perhaps give veteran centre Mike Zigomanis another shot as fourth-line centre with the Leafs? Zigomanis has 15 points in as many games with the Marlies and is a face-off man extraordinaire. Dupuis isn’t the greatest goal-scorer in history, but he did have over 30 in junior twice. Something has got to give. The Leafs aren’t scoring and they need contributions from lines 2 to 4. And, no, you don’t want to call up young centres Joe Colborne and Nazem Kadri for fourth-line duty.
SHAKE AND BAKE
Leafs coach Ron Wilson put rookie winger Matt Frattin on the Mikhail Grabovski line in place of Clarke MacArthur early in Tuesday’s game, perhaps the first time in history someone with no goals after 14 games earned a promotion. MacArthur was bumped to the third line. Have to say, though, after a lacklustre first period, the second line came to life in the second and early third, before Grabovski went out with a lower body injury. Nikolai Kulemin picked up an assist in the third and Grabovski sent Frattin in alone on Smith with a terrific pass in the final frame. In the four games leading up to Tuesday’s game, Grabovski, Kulemin and MacArthur had combined for zero points and were a combined minus-15 so Wilson can’t be criticized for shaking up what last season was the Leafs’ most consistent line.
The Leafs have scored eight goals in their past five games and when you score that many goals, you can’t blame the goaltenders for losses. Tuesday night, Ben Scrivens looked a bit shaky in the first, but started to settle down in the second and was solid overall, though he was uncharacteristically sloppy with the puck, leading all players in the first period with three giveaways, and four overall. The bottom line? Jonas Gustavsson almost certainly has dropped to No. 3 on the goalie depth chart, behind the injured James Reimer and Scrivens.
around the rink
Canadian tennis star Milos Raonic, sitting in the stands, was shown on the scoreboard wearing a Leafs jersey. Nobody seemed to recognize him though, perhaps because he wasn’t on the screen for very long ... It’s interesting how when they showed the opening goal by Phoenix on the scoreboard, they didn’t show how it developed — a brutal giveaway by Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf ... MLSE was good enough to air interviews on the scoreboard with a couple of writers who just finished penning hockey books for the Christmas season (like there aren’t enough hockey books). The unfortunate part for the modern day Hemingways was that MLSE ran the interviews 45 minutes before game time when there was practically nobody in the stands ... Speaking of the pre-game yammerings on the ACC scoreboard, where did they get these various scoreboard hostesses? The Ford Modelling Agency? ... Leafs TV reporter Andi Petrillo is right. Shane Doan and Grabovski could be brothers ... Leafs lead the NHL in blocked shots, with 286 going into Tuesday’s game. Perhaps they’re terrified that some shots might get through to their goalies ... Veteran defenceman Mike Komisarek, who has struggled at times this season, had one of his better performances, scoring his first goal of the season. He also had five shots on net and recorded three hits, including a huge one on Lauri Korpikoski in the first.