Tonight's game against the Thrashers was great to watch. Ron Wilson is probably going to be surly in the dressing room after the Leafs gave up 4 goals and 34 shots but hey, they scored 5 and that counts as a win.
A day after Phil Kessel scared the poop out of Leaf fans everywhere by saying 'things aren't working here' we can all breath a sigh of relief as he clarified the comments, the GM spoke to fans, and the coach relented and put him with some forwards that are playing some pretty decent hockey.
Kessel showed a little give and take too. Wilson gave him some linemates and Kessel did some of the 'off the puck' stuff that Wilson has been whining about - flying down the ice late in the game to negate an icing call. Good to see.
We're getting late in the year and there have been more positives this season than the standings would suggest. I heard a certain radio personality say that the Leafs only had one top nine forward. There's probably a reason that this guy is a fill-in at The Fan. Grabovski has really flourished this year and he found the scoresheet, netting his 22nd goal of the year and his 41st point. Awesome. Those look like very respectable second line centre numbers to me.
Kulemin got his 19th of the year and his 39th point. Also very good second line numbers, particularly when you factor in that he's a +4.
These two guys are on amazing contracts with Grabbo making $2.9M next year before becoming a UFA and Kulemin earning $2.35 next year and is still an RFA the season after.
Clark MacArthur is an RFA next year and he's definitely been a second-line calibre player as well with 44 points and 17 goals.
There's still a shortage of elite talent on this team but there are some solid pieces in place at forward and I feel like they've been sold short to a large extent. Is it good enough? No. Is it doom and gloom? No. The GM is proactive and while bringing in top-end forwards is probably the most challenging trade a GM can make, I haven't lost hope. Not to mention we have a highly touted prospect that's developing in the AHL right now.
Even though there were some defensive lapses, tonight was a nice reminder of what we have up front. It probably isn't where we thought the production would come from at the beginning of the season, but it's something we can be happy with moving forward.