While it was an excellent breakdown of what the Leafs had done up until that point in the season there were few mentions of centre David Bolland.
Why you ask?
Well because Bolland only played 15 games before he suffered a severed tendon on November 2nd.
Now I loved the way Bolland played during those 15 games and the Leafs were 10-4 before he got hurt that night in Vancouver. But 15 games isn’t a big sample size to work with when assessing the impact of a player on a team.
But all of a sudden there is a narrative making the rounds by some people that Bolland is some kind of "Saviour" and will fix all of the Leafs problems when he returns.
Now wait just a minute. I like Bolland as much as the next guy, but he isn’t a first line centre and since he isn’t a defenceman he won’t fix the issues on the Leafs blueline.
So stop all the talk of Bolland being a "Saviour".
The return of Bolland to the line-up will certainly make the Leafs a better team. But the man can’t walk on water. Besides, nobody is sure when he will even be able to get back into the line-up.
When speaking to the media this weekend Bolland was very cautious as to when he might be able to return.
That didn’t sound like a player who was ready to return any time soon. The Leafs play 10 games before the Olympic break. The prudent thing to do would be to hold him out of the line-up until the season resumes on February 27th.
That is assuming he is even ready to play by then.
The more realistic expectation for fans, media and Leafs management would be to hope that by mid-March Bolland is back playing his typical 16 minutes a night. Using that as a starting point then it is reasonable to expect that Bolland is back in "mid-season" form by early April; just in time for the playoffs.
"Saviour" isn’t the right thing to call Bolland.
The "Stabilizer" is what we should be calling Bolland.
When Bolland is back in the line-up on a nightly basis he will provide stability to the Leafs lines and in the dressing room. (Maybe he can over-rule Bozak and get that gawd awful Miley Cyrus song exorcised from the dressing room.)
The return of Bolland will also help reduce the amount of times Randy Carlyle can scew up the line-up on a nightly basis.
The quartet of Kadri, Bozak, Bolland and McClement down the middle won’t blow anyone away but it is better than some other teams in the East.
I will take that foursome over what the Habs threw out on the ice Saturday night; Desharnais, Plekanec, Eller and Briere.
The current Leafs simply can’t afford to wait around for Bolland to get back in the line-up or Dave Nonis to make some sort of magical trade. The playoff race in the Eastern Conference is just too tight for that to happen. The Leafs have to make the most of the players they have on hand and put forth more efforts like what we saw Saturday night against the Habs.
The past four games are proof that the Leafs have enough talent on hand to compete with most teams in the Eastern Conference.
They key is avoiding those ugly stretches of games when it looks like nobody has a clue what they’re doing.
And that is Carlyle’s job to make sure that doesn’t happen again, not Bolland’s.
The Kadri Files:
Just as a sidebar I hope that Saturday night’s performance by Nazem Kadri puts to rest some of these silly trade rumours making the rounds.
Kadri skated just under 20 minutes; he had two assists and was named the games first star. This was the Kadri that had all of Toronto buzzing last season.
My favourite Tweet from Saturday night’s win over the Habs comes courtesy of @blogesalming after Kadri undressed Alexei Emelin on the Franson goal. Easily one of the prettiest moves you will ever see.
Commander Hadfield, after finishing the national anthem, has been commissioned to go into space and find Alexei Emelin’s jock
— Bloge Salming (@blogesalming) January 19, 2014
Kadri has only played 145 games in his NHL career. That is less than two full seasons. While I agree that Kadri needs to be more consistent it is way too early to even think about trading him.
The next time someone brings up the idea of trading Kadri, show them the video of his move on Emelin and get back to me.