Tyler Bozak is Toronto’s first line center. For now and the foreseeable future, Bozak has a stranglehold on a very enviable position between James Van Riemsdyk and Phil Kessel. While Bozak has occupied a similar spot in the past, Nazem Kadri’s emergence last season and Bozak’s own untimely injuries had set the stage for a tantalizing possibility – the seemingly natural progression of Toronto’s most talented center (Kadri) into a role on the first line.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work out quite like we envisioned. When both Bozak and Bolland were out of the lineup, Randy Carlyle’s hand was forced. He had no choice but to try Kadri with the team’s two star wingers. Carlyle offered quotes suggesting that Kadri’s success in said role could spell an end to Bozak’s undisputed reign. A promising start (two goals for Kadri on a Dec. 5 win against the Stars) quickly faded along with the team’s fortunes over the following weeks. Kadri has only scored twice since that night, and Carlyle and co. all but clapped with glee when Bozak returned shortly before the Winter Classic.
Bozak’s timely (but wildly unsustainable) production in recent games likely has reinforced the coaching staff’s opinions on the matter. Bozak’s leash is extremely long as Carlyle values him highly for a number of reasons of varying merit. The benefits of giving Toronto’s most talented center (still Kadri) an extended look in this position over Bozak could certainly be debated. But at this point, MLSE is set on clawing their way into the playoffs and the wheel is still in Carlyle’s hands. Thus, barring further injuries or suspensions, we are likely seeing the formation of a consistent look for this team’s top nine:
With the lion’s share of offense in recent wins coming from the Bozak line, the coaching staff has begun to call for support from the rest of the cast. Kulemin and Clarkson have exhibited a burgeoning ability to establish a cycle in recent weeks. They have done so with centers such as Jay McClement and more recently, Peter Holland. Both of the gritty wingers have also shown an increased willingness to fire the puck. Bolland’s hardnosed style of game and vastly superior offensive arsenal (sorry Jay) will mesh well with this pair upon his much-awaited return to the lineup.
As such, it is the least predictable line that will be the deciding factor in Toronto’s success. Nazem Kadri flanked by Lupul and Raymond will hopefully garner some of the soft minutes that the Lupul-Kadri pair saw last season. Kadri and Lupul represent two skilled players that are similar in their consistent, passionate desire to win. They also share a willingness to use their bodies when they get involved in the game. While Mason Raymond has had a successful year with the Leafs, his game is an inconsistent mix of blazing speed, solid puck skills, and poor decisions.
Both Lupul and Kadri have fallen off from their spectacular point paces of a year ago. Yet with the eventual return of Bolland, Randy Carlyle will once again have two lines to give the hardest assignments to on a nightly basis. With the character and talent of Lupul and Kadri up against a lower level of opposition, the Leafs could very well see the return of their vaunted scoring of a year ago.
Tim Gleason says: “we have to win games”. Exactly the level of insight expected from a hockey player.
How the Leafs have “turned their fortunes around”.
Randy Carlyle loves Tyler Bozak. But probably not more than Phil Kessel does.
I caught up with Maple Leafs Director of Player Development Jim Hughes to talk World Juniors, Marlies http://mapleleafshotstove.com/2014/01/17/catching-up-with-maple-leafs-director-of-player-development-jim-hughes/ … #TMLtalk
Rielly interview on the Fan
why did Fraser fall off so much this season, I'm rewatching the first game of the season Leafs vs Habs and the guy was playing tough, playing hard, and making smart plays, hes not as bad as hes been the last several months
ALOT of dumping on Clarkson on the TSN boards......they can dump on him all they want.....i beleaf in this guy.....i wont deny he has not played to his potential thus far....hard to when u have different linemates almost every game! Player's with the passion and heart of Clarkson are not deterred.....they will keep working until they get it right.....Clarkson will be there when it counts..............
TORONTO – Since the electric days of his first training camp with the Maple Leafs in the fall of 2009, Nazem Kadri has been a lightning rod in the city of Toronto, a constant source of attention in times both good and bad.
"I learned that the first year I came here, not to pay attention to many people outside the dressing room," the 23-year-old said on a noisy Friday afternoon. "All those blogs, newspapers and people saying what they want to say, they have their own opinion, but at the end of the day I'm not hearing it."
Kadri is trudging through the longest slump of what is, in reality, a brief NHL career. Though he remains on pace for a respectable 19 goals and 47 points, he has just one goal in the past 16 games and a quiet 14 points since the start of November – a stretch of 31 games.
"I think it's been decent," said Kadri of his season so far, which has him sitting fourth in team scoring with 27 points. "[But] I know I can bring a lot better. Obviously, everyone expects a lot more, which is a little flattering to say the least, because people believe in you and understand that you can give more to the team. No one expects more than I expect from myself."
In midst of those struggles is bubbling trade speculation, which Toronto general manager Dave Nonis addressed in an interview with TSN Radio on Thursday.
"There's a lot of interest in Nazem Kadri," said Nonis. "Would we be willing to trade him? Yes, we'd be willing to trade him. But there's a big difference between willing to and trying to."
Kadri, for one, has no interest in a potential move.
"It'd be terrible," Kadri said of a possible trade. "I don't see it happening and I don't want it to happen. This is my home, this is where I want to be and 'til otherwise I'm going to give them everything I have."
Looks like the Scrivens honeymoon in Edmonton is over.
That organization is plumbing new lows. This perennial tank job has got the fan base pissed off and they take it out on the wife of an Alberta born player who has one game with the Oilers. Meanwhile Kevin Fucking Lowe is still running the show.
Stay classy Oiler fans
@Burtonboy cool thanks
@TheCanucksnaphook i just finished working out too.....weird
@4evrblue The Hockey News sucks moose balls lol
Also people need to remember that he's been playing for the most part with McClement... who is a fantastic 4th line center and penalty killer but not who should be centering Clarkson. Since Holland has been on his line, he along with Kulemin have looked more dangerous.
@DeclanK Hahahaha once in what? a thousand times lol
@4evrblue obligatory "funny Randy"
@TheCanucksnaphook Yeah and he doesn't think Colorado will move ROR. Neither do I
@4evrblueThese media guys ask dumb questions sometimes. Hey why not ask Carlyle what he thinks about bringing up McIntyre. He is playing well you know.
@4evrblue Make no wonder they hate answering questions.
@Xxxxxnew Not today . Teams in Chicargo
@4evrblue No word yet
@XxxxxnewFuck the noize, Nazzy.
@Ryan Who else are they going to start. The Habs go nowhere without him being the best player on the ice
@Zep2 mostly the sun with the unresearched article colour me surprised NOT
@Zep2 idiot fans....like some of our idiot fans....the people being let on the radio today must all be from some asylum somewhere
@Uncle Otis Maple Hockey Leafs Stove...rolls off the toungue