LGD – Can We Go Home Yet?

The Leafs’ latest goal scoring phenom, defenceman Roman Polak, will return to Scottrade Center for the first time since being traded by the St. Louis Blues to Toronto this past offseason.

Polak, drafted by the Blues back in 2004 out of the Czech junior leagues, spent his entire career with the Blues organization prior to joining the Leafs. While we haven’t seen Polak’s best this season, he was a solid defender for the Blues – a rare mix of size, speed and an actually effective ‘defensive defenceman’s’ game.

I’m still not a huge fan of the trade, with Toronto sending Carl Gunnarsson and a 4th round pick (which would become goaltending prospect Ville Husso). Not to mention, $200,000 in retained salary on Gunnarsson’s contract this year and next.

The Leafs thought they got a very solid defender, and they kind of did, but that’s an awful lot to give up for one. The difference in talent between Polak and Gunnarsson isn’t very large, every team needs good goaltending depth (though, if Husso wasn’t such a solid prospect, maybe it wouldn’t look so bad), and the Leafs weren’t really in any position to be overextending their so-called financial might.

Even so, there’s something I still like about Polak. I think his poor underlying numbers are, as with a good number of Leafs, negatively impacted by former coach Randy Carlyle’s systems. That, and the previously mentioned speed factor – when Polak starts moving his legs, I can’t believe a 235lb+ man can skate that quickly. It’s something that’s oddly fun to watch.

But I digress…

Polak will return to St. Louis tonight as the Leafs close out their road trip against the Blues. Snapping a three-game losing streak won’t be easy, as the Blues are a very good hockey club. They score 3.14 goals-per-game, which is second best in the league, and are almost equally adept at keeping the puck out of their own net.

On the other hand, the Leafs have scored exactly one goal in their past three games, and are 2-8-0 in their last ten. So, yeah, tonight should be fun.

The Leafs

I don’t want to even talk about this lineup. #FreeWillyNylander, in my honest opinion.

Lineups courtesy of DailyFaceoff.com

LeafsLineup1172015

The Blues

This is terrifying. In the past five games, David Backes has 11 points. Alex Steen has seven. T.J Oshie has six. Vladimir Tarasenko has six. Jaden Schwartz has six. Somehow, the Blues have become an offensive juggernaut. Have fun with that, Korbinian Holzer.

Lineups courtesy of DailyFaceoff.com

BluesLineup

Starting Goaltenders

What To Watch For

  • A (short) Roman Polak tribute video
  • A warm embrace between former defensive partners Dion Phaneuf and Carl Gunnarsson.
  • Martin Brodeur. Oh, he left? Nevermind.