Friday Mashup: The Other Guys

Friday Mashup: The Other Guys

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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:

Van Riemsdyk-Bozak-Kessel

Lupul-Kadri-Raymond

Kulemin-Holland(Bolland)-Clarkson

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.

Friday links:

Dave Nonis with a great interview on TSN

Why are the Leafs so good at shootouts?

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.

675 comments
Bruffins
Bruffins

Do people think Rielly will be better than Phaneuf is now?

Dangle_My_Berries
Dangle_My_Berries

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 

TheCanucksnaphook
TheCanucksnaphook

Alright I am back...enough of this working out time for my comfy chair.

Jon5200
Jon5200

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..............

4evrblue
4evrblue

James Mirtle @mirtle 17m

Carlyle on potentially bringing up T.J. Brennan: "We have eight defencemen so I don't know if that makes any sense. You do the math."

GreekGod
GreekGod

@Jon5200 

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. 

wendelsfist
wendelsfist

@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
4evrblue

@Burtonboy@4evrblue lol yeah my first thought was "who the fuck even asked that?" 

just had to post it here for a laugh lol

TheCanucksnaphook
TheCanucksnaphook

@Bruffins I was similar until about 3 years ago.  Started with a band, then assisted with feet off of a chair and now crushing them.  Would still love to get better but shows even at 40 yrs old (then) my body can stll improve.

Bruffins
Bruffins

@TheCanucksnaphook @Bruffins 

I have a shitty back so no matter how strong I get I can't do one pull-up haha. It's really weird. Can do any exercise except that

TheCanucksnaphook
TheCanucksnaphook

@Bruffins MIne was actually p90x3 again.   Almost into my 4th week and loving it.  today was basically pullups and pushups for half an hour.  

4evrblue
4evrblue

@vinoa@4evrblue@Airfreshener@Burtonboy I never said anything about trading Kadri for him.

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You're right MB. But common sense and rumor mongering seldom go hand in hand. Just surprised I haven't seen this tantalizing lineup posted:

JVR Bozak Kessel

Lupul Kadri Callahan

Kulemin Bolland Clarkson

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Sweet Jesus that would be nice to see.

4evrblue
4evrblue

@Airfreshener@Burtonboy@4evrblueOne name that is mentioned there that I'm surprised we don't hear more about around these parts is Ryan Callahan. there have been lots of players rumored to be available in the past that didn't make sense for the other teams to move or us to get but yet people still talk about trading for them. Why not this guy?