Itâ€™s the middle of November, and schools across the land are giving out report cards.Â Meanwhile, in the nationâ€™s universities, professorsâ€™ TAs are hard at work grading studentsâ€™ essays before the drop date.Â With just over 20% of the Leafs season in the books, letâ€™s take a look at how Brian Burkeâ€™s prized acquisitions have fared so far.
Heâ€™s no superstar, but he tries hard, and effort and attention to detail will always earn part marks.Â For such a big guy, itâ€™s the little things he does so well, whether itâ€™s blocking shots or winning over 60% of his face-offs.Â Heâ€™s the leader amongst the Leafs forward corps in hits (42, tied for team lead with Luke Schenn), blocked shots (20) and penalty kill time on ice per game (2:45).Â Had a three game goal scoring streak early in the season and his ability to win key draws has improved the Leafs possession numbers all season. He’s a big body up front who provides an inside presence, and that’s a lacking element on this roster.
Originally on the waiting list with concussion symptoms, Lombardiâ€™s appearance in every game this season has been in itself shocking. Â However, the former 20-goal/50-point man has a luke warm 6 points in 18 games, leaving fans wanting more.Â At times heâ€™s seemed lost on the ice, and two turnovers of his have led directly to goals that have put away games.
Grade: Incomplete; medical exemption
Hard to really gauge Connollyâ€™s performance since heâ€™s only skated in 6 games this season.Â When not injured, heâ€™s put up a slightly above average 4 points and displaying excellent patience and vision with the puck.Â Heâ€™s set to return from injury as early as Thursday, which will come as a welcome relief to the Leafs, who lost 1/3 of their top six last night against Phoenix.
Boyâ€™s got some attendance problems, having been a healthy scratch 14 of 18 games, with the leafs losing 3 of the 4 he has featured in.Â Fransonâ€™s -5 rating isnâ€™t all that desirable either.Â At this stage, heâ€™s got to be praying for an injury to the d-corps to bring him into the line up.Â A far cry from being the treasure of the Lebda trade a mere 4 months ago.
Although Dupuis wasnâ€™t brought in to score, going 0 for 16 hasnâ€™t instilled much belief that he isnâ€™t an interchangeable 4th line grinder.Â His high sticking penalty which led to Ottawaâ€™s 5 â€“ 3 power play goal left a sour taste in the mouths of many in Leafs Nation.Â Nonetheless, when he does feature on the penalty kill, heâ€™s been solid and heâ€™s 3rd amongst Leaf forwards with 27 hits.
So far Liles has been a decided upgrade over the latter day Tomas Kaberle.Â Heâ€™s been integral to the Leafs power play improvement with half of his 10 points coming on the man advantage while leading the team in PPTOI/G (4:12).Â He may be a poor manâ€™s Andrei Markov, but his insertion into the line up has reawakened Mike Komisarekâ€™s game.Â Defensively, heâ€™s a mixed bag, blocking 38 shots, good for second on the team while recording a dismal 14 giveaways.Â When heâ€™s on his game, Liles makes the right decisions in all three zones and has knack finding a streaking winger on the break out.
Onto the links: