In advance of tomorrow night's game, and to help you all familiarize yourself with the Caps' next opponent, I asked PPP of Pension Plan Puppets a few questions about his Leafs. And away we go...
1) Why does the team at the center (sorry, centre) of the hockey universe need Americans behind the bench and in the front office to get them back to waiting until April to annually disappoint their fans?
Yes, please remember that we use the Queen's English here in Canada. As for having to hire Americans, they are as American as baseball, in name only. Ronny was actually born in Canada and Burke has citizenship. Either way, we're ready to try anything. The only person that noted this before the signing of course was "Hall of Famer" Jim Kelley.
2) I've noticed the Leafs don't currently have a captain. Is the leadership void left by Mats Sundin and his 981regular season games played for the Buds with zero Finals appearances really that irreplaceable? (By the way, if the Leafs are looking to fill their bald, aging Swede quota, I have a lead on where you can get one...)
No thanks. We have our scary-looking Swedish player quota filled. We also have our useless player that was signed to a dumb contract and can't be traded quota. As for leadership, maybe a touch of Sundin would have kept the Caps from blowing the series against the Flyers. Well, that or some competent refereeing.
3) I caught clips of 2008 fifth overall pick Luke Schenn's first and second NHL fights the other day. Impressive stuff. Other than his obvious skills as a pugilist, how has his first NHL season gone so far?
Our Luke and Saviour has been a revelation. The stat sheet will reveal some info on the ice-time he's been chewing up or the blocked shots or the big hits but the things that really have me excited aren't found on the game sheet. His patience on the puck is incredible. When I was at the Boston game a few weeks ago he took a pass near the Leafs' blueline and looked to be cornered. He hesitated a split second longer than most players would and fired a perfect pass to set up an odd-man rush. Or, the times when a bad pass comes back his way, he will calmly find another avenue out of the zone. Did I mention the big hits?
4) Toronto hasn't had a season in which their team GAA was below 3.00 or their save percentage above .900 since before the lockout, and don't look to be much of a threat on either front this year either. Can Vesa Toskala turn it around, are they waiting on Justin Pogge, or is the answer not currently with the organization?
Vesa's last three games (San Jose didn't count because they are awesome) saw him getting back to the form that he showed for bursts last year: .959SV% 1.30GAA. Long-term he is not the answer but I expect that the last two thirds of the year will see a much better showing from him.
Justin Pogge had a great preseason. He saw most of the action and looked ready for the NHL. Then he was sent to the AHL and it seems to have affected his concentration. It's his third season in the AHL and first as the number one for the Marlies. Last year he was stupidly benched during the playoffs by Greg Gilbert which is why I assume that he will stay down for the entire season. I think he has the goods to be the Leafs' long-term answer but I wouldn't be surprised to see Burke try to bring in a guy to compete with Toskala and another young guy.
The first would be just a better back up than Joseph who has been more Old Yeller than CuJo and the latter to cover the team's bases since Rask was traded somewhere by some guy for some other guy.
5) You've famously desecrated the Leafs logo in a show of support for the Caps. Who will you be rooting for tomorrow night?
HAHAHAHA Well, technically I was approached by someone that thought that it made sense to take one of the league's most treasured symbols and marry it to the 85th incarnation of their team's logo in order to get a few extra fans. Saturday night I'll be painted blue and white and cheering on God's team and come mid-April I'll probably have to dabble in some Ovietime. But maybe not.