Game #31 – Flames @ LEafs: 12am (CET)

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A couple of great things to report today. First, it’s the Wayne Train!!!

This team really missed Simmonds. He has a big voice in the dressing room and on the bench and this team has been in need of a wake up call for weeks.

Also, your favourite and friendliest backup goalie is back!!

The Leafs have needed decent goaltending lately as well, so here’s hoping that Campbell can get into a few games and stay healthy.

Lastly, the teams most recent reclamation project, Alex Galchenyuk, will make his Leafs debut.

Here’s hoping that Galchenyuk meshes well in the top 6, and that his stint with the Marlies helped his game. If he can reclaim some of his former glory then they could be looking at a valuable asset. Don’t forget, he scored 30 goals in the NHL earlier in his career and managed over 50pts a couple of times as well. He isn’t void of skill.

Now that the team is healthy we can see what the lines really look like:

With the roster in clear view, you can give an honest opinion about where the holes are.

For me, I see 2 main areas of concern. For starters, the left side of the top 6 isn’t exactly ideal. I think Thornton has been better than expected and with controlled minutes he could be a real factor in the playoffs. However, unless Galchenyuk finds his old scoring touch, both of your top 6 LWers aren’t ideal. One may be something you can overcome, especially if that one is being carried by Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, but two is a problem.

In short, it may be as simple as saying Galchenyuk has two games, tonight and tomorrow against the Flames, to prove to management that he’s worth a longer look. If he looks completely out of place, then they’ll double their efforts in a search for a replacement. If he plays well, then maybe they can play hardball in negotiations.

Second, I’m not sure that I’m the biggest fan of Alex Kerfoot as their 3C. Call me an old school thinker if you’d like, but I have this vision of a hard hitting, puck cycling, work-it-to-the-net-for-ugly-goals, defensive centre that I truly believe would work with Zach Hyman and Ilya Mikheyev. Maybe a guy that is a little more skilled will complement the line, which could be said of Kerfoot, but I think the addition of a player like Travis Zajac could make that a true match-up nightmare for opposing coaches. (p.s. I hate to admit this, because I do respect Kerfoot and his game, but it could be his caphit that has to be moved out in order to facilitate a deal to bring in a 3C that fits what I think they’re looking for on that line.)

As far as the defense is concerned, I don’t dislike it as a unit, but, as with any team that wants to make a deep run in the playoffs, they should look for more depth there. A player that is adept at playing both sides of the ice would be ideal, just so they can fill in wherever they’re needed. My personal pick would be Sami Vatanen, currently playing for the New Jersey Devils.

At the end of the day it’s tough not to admit that this is one of the better rosters we’ve seen since the turn of the century. So let’s hope they don’t come out as flat as they have been lately. Instead, I’d like to see this team play to the potential that we all know they’re capable of playing to.

Enjoy the game.