Should Schenn Sit?

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    I often have to deal with a lot of commentary that seems when the Leafs skid, becomes more and more of the ‘I told you so’ variety. I don’t get many ‘hey great job’ comments when things are going well, however. With this six-game funk, there’s a boatload. But a couple made me think about why Schenn should be a candidate to sit on Saturday night.

    Hey Gus,

    What did I tell you. Are you listening to what all the so called experts are now saying about Luke Schenn.

    I told you this guy sucks and is always one step behind the play. The older he gets the slower he will get and become worse. This guy is nothing but a dime a dozen.

    Get rid of him.

    Talk to you later.

    Joey-Jojo

    GUS:

    Sigh … I get this response time to time .. Just keep this Schenn comment in mind, I’ll address this right after this little gem.

    ***************************

    With fall now in our midst I couldn’t resist sending you a note to lament on the Maple Laughs. I know you and (insert Generic Name here) are Leaf fans for life but the blind ambition you guys buy into every f’in year is just mind numbing.

    (Gus: I love generalization .. paint it all with the same brush, dude … but it gets better)

    I hate to be a broken record here but didn’t we disagree on how good the Leafs were going to be this year. Clearly they are much better than last year?????

    (keep that broken record comment in mind for a little further down.)

    Aren’t playoff bound teams expected to win a game or two? What was Burke thinking when he boldly stated that. Don’t get me wrong. I know a team can be slow out of the gate and still turn it around but the Leafs are looking like a Tornado ran through them. The locker room is a shambles as well based on the chatter. No one looks like they want to have the ‘C’ on their sweater and take charge of this sorry crew.

    (dude, you have info coming out of the locker room? Why didn’t you tell me? this bit of rambling actually made me laugh though)

    I could go on (and on) but my time is short. Mercifully I have only watched Leaf game highlights some mornings but that is more than enough for any sane human being.

    (yet he can go on and on like a broken record after only watching highlights … that’s smart, dude … keep this up)

    Later dudes!

    (Generic name from above), for Halloween will you be dressing the kids in Leaf sweaters with a bag over their head. They’ll likely get lots of sympathy candies.

    MEPHISTOPHOLES

    ps – any team with speed does make Schenn look like a pylon out there. Based on what highlights (is highlights even valid to use in this context?) I’ve seen he has two strong traits on the ice. Both are based on his Shakespeare reading

    To Hook or To Hold. That is the question.

    (that was pretty good line, I have to admit, but a dumb comment considering he has 2 PIM’s, and that was a penalty shot against the Sens).

    GUS:

    The Schenn comment, while watching only highlights … thanks for qualifying your input, Meph…

    A theme from these is the struggling Leafs sophomore. Schenn didn’t burst out of the gate last season either and I thought he struggled early, only not as glaring as this season. He was lauded about making the team, and to his credit deserved the spot he won. His skills and smarts kept him in the NHL. He had similar issues with angles and brain cramps that went unnoticed due to making the club as an 18 year old and the baptism by fire improved his overall play as the season progressed, growing in his own role and personal development.

    He won’t win many races, but it was his smarts and positioning that minimized the situations that required big bursts. He’s a good skater, just missing big-time speed.

    This season, however, he’s struggled with simple tasks – along with early partner, Francois Beauchemin – and the mental game. Clearing attempts, and positioning are average at best, with errors glaring enough to have already paved a way to the press box.. In a way, Mephistopholes is right; speed has made him seem flat-footed along with the rest of the blueline, yet more aggressively gambling to make tough, aggressive plays instead of battling to make smart plays as he did last season.

    He was also a victim of some bad situations, particularly where Beauchemin struggled the youngster struggled to cover up some of his mistakes. The glaring errors were partly due to the pairing and not strictly his own.

    Sitting Schenn out Saturday night isn’t a bad decision and shouldn’t be written off, while that applies to many along the Leafs blueline. With only one game in a long time span, he could work on simplifying his game, with a general improvement throughout the entire lineup. Schenn will struggle this season, but this is the way you develop a kid, by throwing him into situation where he gets challenged and be allowed to make mistakes. The problem is the chasm created by the void in draft picks, magnifying the problems overall.

    ***************

    A glaring stat … the Leafs haven’t scored first yet this season and have played with the lead for 6:51 minutes this season, all in the season opener against Montreal. It’s hard to get the momentum once they’re in a hole early, especially with what seems to be a shaky confidence in their goaltending.

    Toronto plays once in the next 10 days before embarking on a five-game road swing starting in the west. This town will go freaking insane should they lose the Saturday night rematch with the Rangers and head on a road 0-6-1.

    Getting away may be the best thing for them, a bonding session away from home. More importantly is the time between now and then. There is no help on the horizon, and the Leafs will have to depend on their own internal roster to get them out of this mess. There isn’t a miracle trade or call up that is going to change the course, and they have to use this time to nail down their game in practice.

    Health is one of the biggest enemies of the club at the moment and that alone made a proclamation of a playoff spot dubious at best. Toskala will be sidelined 10 days to two weeks while Gustavsson should return within the week. With Phil Kessel already out, this time off staying healthy is paramount to any turnaround, and this time off can heal some sores and aches, while providing an opportunity to work extensively on their game through practice.

    And they’ll need it. With 76 games left, leaving 11 points on the table this early is almost signing a death-wish to the playoffs. Without two top picks in the upcoming draft as a chasm they can’t retreat into, it looks like unless they can improve enough to win the equivalent of 46 or so games needed to make the postseason, they may make a run for an insignificant 9th or 10th spot playing as spoiler for the Bruins.

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