To what extent have the Leafs missed Tyler Bozak?

To what extent have the Leafs missed Tyler Bozak?

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Tyler Bozak didn’t make his return to game action at the behest of team doctors on Saturday night. The worry with Bozak is that his hamstring issue may be a nagging one for him this season, given he wanted to play despite the doctor’s orders and was limping around the practice rink the day before.

In any event, we’ll find out as the day progresses if Bozak will play his first game since exactly a month ago today against the same opponent he sustained the injury, the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Update:

 

Since that October 25 injury, his usual running mates James van Riemsdyk and Phil Kessel have been playing less minutes and producing less consistently:

 
JvR TOI/g
Kessel TOI/g
JvR Points Per Game
Kessel Points Per Game
Before Bozak Injury21:07:4620:17:161.0 (9 in 9)1.09 (12 in 11)
After Bozak Injury19:15:2117:50:100.58 (7 in 12)0.75 (9 in 12)

The reality is that the problem is far more complicated than to arrive at a simple “Bozak’s gone” causation.

The intimation here is not that Tyler Bozak is the team’s vastly underappreciated number one center who is doing thankless work away from the puck that allows Kessel and JvR to produce at optimal levels. The fact of the matter is that Kessel’s production history is better without than with Tyler Bozak.

His absence has, however, contributed to throwing the lineup out of whack and a reduction in JvR and Kessel’s minutes.

Indeed, this is perhaps more accurately labeled a “Leafs obliterated down the middle” issue, of which Bozak is a part, as opposed to exclusively a “Bozak’s out” issue.

When Bozak first went down, Kadri jumped onto the top line and Kessel, JvR and Nazem combined for a whopping 15 points over three games against the Penguins, Oilers and Flames. Once Dave Bolland went down to injury in the Vancouver game, the struggles for the duo began. In order to try to balance the lineup, Carlyle shifted JvR to center and bumped Naz down a spot. The JvR at center experiment saw JvR-Kessel duo amass a total of one point, a Kessel goal on the powerplay, over the four games. Also in the mix was a three-game suspension to Kadri.

Are those time on ice numbers different if Bolland was available? Without a doubt. Kadri could have kept on centering Kessel and JvR without the need for change. And when Kadri was suspended, Bolland would have been centering the top line without much issue, as Carlyle trusts Bolland a great deal.

But we’re also aware that Carlyle trusts Bozak to center the team’s dynamic offensive duo, and Kessel and JvR’s minutes and production are down at least in part due to his absence. Even if it’s just for the penalty kill and getting the top line back to its familiar set up and ice time, the Leafs could use #42 back in the lineup.

Alec Brownscombe is the founder of MapleLeafsHotStove.com, where he has written daily about the Leafs since September of 2008. He was also the editor of the 2009-12 Maple Leafs Annuals. You can contact him at [email protected]
242 comments
Reversethecurse13
Reversethecurse13

I thought Peter Holland has looked very good between Kess and JVR so far, very impressed with the kid.

Uncle Otis
Uncle Otis

@Mind Bomb 

Accidentally chicken winged him in the chops?

How do you actually do that? Trying to fly?

League's a joke

GreekGod
GreekGod

@TheCanucksnaphook 

Yup... plus we see what it does to the other team when Clarkson gets under there skin. They start focusing more on him and not the game. 

LeafsForLife
LeafsForLife

@TheCanucksnaphook Its their sworn duty to find something, anything, to be negative about on the Leafs. They have TSN montreal and TSN winnipeg jets to keep happy. I expect it from them now. I just go there for the scores. lol.

MaxwellHowe
MaxwellHowe

@Burtonboy Positive reinforcement. Say it enough and maybe Bozak will play like a top NHL C

LeafsForLife
LeafsForLife

@wiski Never EATEN cream pie but i sure have made a few CREAM pies. I guess ill go with cheesecake.

MaxwellHowe
MaxwellHowe

@Burtonboy Documenting the Pens game may be misleading. Basically, Phaneuf and McClement and Kulimen will, in turn  be draped over Crosby and Malkin.   That will be the system

Alec Brownscombe
Alec Brownscombe moderator

Well, thanks anyways, guys... this one's wrapped up.

Marlies Man
Marlies Man

@Mind Bomb Shanahan must have had a couple dozen concussions. His memory is apparently terrible.

Uncle Otis
Uncle Otis

@TheCanucksnaphook 

Dunno..Ray kinda sticking up for him,saying he was identical

Shots at Randy earlier for using the press to get message out

LeafsForLife
LeafsForLife

@TheCanucksnaphook @LeafsForLife I dont mind Ashton but he gets involved too much. Komarov would get chirped at pushed around and he would skate away with his poker face as if he didnt, and probably didnt, understand what ppl were saying. The offence would have come for him.

LeafsForLife
LeafsForLife

@TheCanucksnaphook @LeafsForLife Thats right. He gets those crazy intense eyes like Darcy Tucker. I want Clarkson playing like that every game. Its an awesome signing! Who cares if its too much money. He gives the Leafs an extra jump when he plays like that! Wish Komarov was on the team. We would rock the opposition!!!

Mesmer
Mesmer

@Corsons Flowing Hair Was the post-game presser after Washington , I believe

Corsons Flowing Hair
Corsons Flowing Hair

@dlb eh @Uncle Otis 

I was watching an interview with Carlyle where he specifically called out Clarkson to tone down the chirping. I don't have a link handy, but it definitely wasn't a misquote. 

Uncle Otis
Uncle Otis

@dlb eh 

Nope,they are talking about it on Leafs Lunch..Carlyle sending messages thru the media.

I'm not big on head games...smarten up Randy.

Missed the game vs Caps(first in years) as our team was on tour...what the hell happened Sat night?