Ron Wilson isn’t happy about Cody Franson’s comments this week and has made it known that the defenceman is now under the gun to perform. As I said yesterday morning, it’s a lose-lose situation complaining to the coach and to the media like that. Now, he has to play his way out of his gaff. Another thing working against Franson is that he will be playing on his wrong sideâ€”something he said he is not used to and doesn’t typically fare well at. Pair this with his being teamed up with Mike Komisarek for the first time and they will need to keep their game super simple to see any success.Â This will be small potatoes in a few weeks time, but right nowâ€”with no games in 7 daysâ€”there is little else to talk about. Player/coach friction happens and happens a lot with Ron Wilson.
The one positive to take away from this is that there is a lot of competition from good players trying to make a spot on this team. Having NHL ready defencemen, rather than AHL’ers thrust into a role they are not capable of, bodes well when (not if) one of the defencemen go down with an injury. Franson is teteering on the edge of the depth chart and he’s a established two-year NHLer, not to mention current Marlie Keith Aulie, who didn’t have the best of preseasons but is where he is due to this depth.
Once Tim Connolly comes back (I hope I’m safe in assuming this will indeed happen at some point), there are many players vying for the same position up front. If the Kessel-Connolly-Lupul line stays together, as expected, and the Grabovski line also remains in tact, the 3rd line has 5 players angling for 3 positions. Either way, these are not problems we have had in some time. Strong depth only bodes well, especially when injuries happen during the season. If history is to repeat itself (it generally does), Tim Connolly should be expected to be out for a number of games this season. Having strong depth down the middle could be a saving grace in the stretches of his absence.
There are obvious questions here as to who will be sat, or sent to the Marlies. Bozak’s position is not terribly secure given Lombardi’s faster, better two-way play, and historically greater offensive production, making his role somewhat redundant. Matt Frattin has played reliable two-way hockey, but in two games has not lit the lamp. Nazem Kadri is certainly eyeing this spot as his own and will probably see a conditioning stint on the Marlies with the hope that Frattin’s play slips enough that he and Kadri switch spots.Â BTW: No, Amstrong is not playing on the 4th line.
Hopefully, Ron Wilson will display a bit more sympathy with regards to how players are treated, as there is a lot of juggling that will be taking place in the next while. Good NHL players will have to be sat, if for no other reason than other players need a chance to play and stay fresh. Franson will not be much (if any) of an upgrade over Gardiner.
Toronto takes on Calgary tonight and it feels like it’s been a month, not a week, since the team last played. Toronto will try and keep their game simple while getting back into ‘game mode’ after their long layoff from play. Calgary could be a good opponent for them to get back into the swing of things against, if they play their game. Toronto is going to be rusty, so it’s important to get into the game with short crisp passes and to establish a good forecheck early. So far, it seems that Toronto has a quick transition game that will bury turnovers in a hurry.
Team videos, plus one from the owner of the worst-kentucky-waterfall-ever, Mr. Barry Melrose. High praise for Phil Kessel, he has.
…and a little treat from Barry Melrose
- Leafs hope they don’t Flame-out
- Former Leafs Stajan, Hagman struggling with Flames
- MacArthur hits play button
- Wilson not impressed with frustrated Franson
- Rogers tapping sports to ramp up online TV push
- Marlies embracing win-now mentality
- Rosehill understands Asham’s antics
- Siegel: MacArthur avoids serious complication to elbow injury
- Leafs need to make hay against West
- Demoted Aulie stays positive, plots return to Leafs
- Put up, shut up time for Franson
- Feschuk: Floorball gives hockey players creative edge
- Hockey Prospectus 11/12: The New Normal