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Stalking the Prey - Maple Leafs

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Chemmy over at Pension Plan Puppets volunteered to give us a quick write up on the Leafs, how their season is going and their fanbase's man-crushes on Luke Schenn and Mikhail Grabovski. Look for more preview goodness around 3pm MST and of course, a game thread at 7pm

 

Much like the Coyotes, the Leafs' this year fight their way up to .500 before slipping back down below it, only to win a couple games and repeat the whole thing. This is clearly a rebuilding team, and a team considerably younger than any we've seen in Toronto in a long time.

Toronto's problems this year have been in their own end, which isn't a surprise to anyone who watched any of the post-lockout Leafs teams. Vesa Toskala got off to a shaky start this year, but has appeared considerably better in the three games before the San Jose drubbing (which doesn't count honestly San Jose is terrifying), winning the first star in each of those contests.

The Leafs have a lot of unfamiliar faces, and two rookies who have been fantastic so far.

Luke Schenn

The Leafs traded up to select Luke Schenn fifth overall in this year's draft, and he has been everything he was advertised. Nicknamed "The Human Eraser", here's Schenn doing what he does best: robbing banks and killing innocents.


You have to love a defender pinching all the way to the bottom of the slot to drill someone with their head down. In the 5-2 loss to San Jose, Schenner logged 22:39 of ice time and was a +2

Mikhail Grabovski

Move over rookies, your king is here. Playing between rookie Nikolai Kulemin (5G 6A 11Pts) and free agent Niklas Hagman (8G 11A 19Pts), Mikhail Grabovski has put up exceptional numbers (10G 8A 18Pts), making him an absolute steal from Montreal. The "Man Grabs Lemon" line, as we call them, is explosive and dynamicand plays very differently from the Leafs other three lines.

The three of them cycle the puck well and make very quick, very smart plays. So much for the Leafs only having one "top six" forwar

Make no mistake about it, Toronto is rebuilding, but they've done an excellent job to start. The biggest story in the NHL (ignoring Sean Avery) this week was the hiring of Brian Burke, but Cliff Fletcher was doing an excellent job. Fletcher moved Steen and Colaiacovo for Stempniak, he got Grabovski out of Montreal for a second round pick, and had a deal in place to move Tomas Kaberle for Jeff Carter which fell through due to Kaberle's refusal to waive his no trade clause.