Monday Mashup: Bozak set to return?

Photo: Getty Images via

The Leafs pulled out a win in the shootout Saturday over Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals to move to 14-8-1 on the season, good enough for second place in the Atlantic division. Sitting three points back of the Boston Bruins and in a tie with Tampa (Leafs ahead on goal differential tie-breaker), this week is an important one for the Leafs as they approach a real tough stretch of games in early December. This week sees Columbus in town Monday, Wednesday at Pittsburgh, and closing with a back-to-back in Buffalo and Montreal, Friday and Saturday respectively.

Pulling points out of the games this week will be vital for the Leafs to maintain their position in the division, with Columbus, Buffalo and Montreal all sitting below Toronto in the standings. Despite the fairly ridiculous slew of injuries the Leafs have withstood through the first quarter of the season, the Leafs have managed to get by on a combination of arguably the strongest goaltending tandem in the league and, while maybe not recently, timely scoring. James Reimer was incredible on Saturday, only beaten on a pretty insane shot from Ovechkin in the third period. The ever-popular Tyler Bozak will likely make his return on Monday after being a somewhat surprising late scratch for Saturday’s game. Head Coach Randy Carlyle has been consistently rolling new acquisition Peter Holland out with JVR and Kessel, but that will likely come to an end as soon as Bozak is ready to play.

It will be interesting to see what the deployment will be for Holland with Bozak back in the lineup. If Carlyle wants to maintain his shutdown line going forward with McClement, Kulemin and Raymond, it wouldn’t shock me to see Holland sent to the Marlies while McClement and Smithson run the third and fourth lines and Bozak and Kadri occupy the middle on the first and second lines. While Holland’s game is far from complete, he has shown flashes of the skill that caught the scouts’ attention leading up to the 2009 draft where he was taken 15th overall. Management may decide that refining his game in the AHL in big, all situations minutes is the way to go with Holland, but that is a decision to make once Bozak is back in the lineup.

A note on Anthony’s Notebook: with four games this week and one tonight, Anthony is posting tomorrow.

Some  Leafs links for your Monday:

– The Leafs’ “hang-back plan”…is that what we’re calling the system now?  Mirtle on the Leafs continuing success against the grain.

– Shoalts has the Saturday post-game for the Globe this week

– Traikos at the National Post on Grabovski’s return to the city that bought him out this past summer

– Jonas Siegel of TSN has his always excellent post game story from Saturday’s win.

  • Loric76

    Interesting angle on the Bozak return.  With Bozak back will we start seeing big minutes from the top line again?  In other words, is the reason that line has gotten limited minutes lately more about protecting Holland, or more about whatever the injury/illness is that’s plaguing Kessel right now?

  • Burtonboy

    Loric76 I’d be shocked if Carlyle doesn’t throw Bozak right back into the fire full tilt.

  • MaxwellHowe

    Mirtle’s article is a good dummary of Saturday’s game and the Leafs general tendancies.  Makes me wonder, tho – why do the Leafs “hang back” once they have the lead?  Is that the actual strategy, or are the Leafs just reacting to the push from the opposition?  How many of us were yelling at the TV screen during that dark dark evening last May?  Wondering why our team was letting the Bruins march over our blue line over and over and over again.  The Leafs have forwards that can push any team back on their heels.

  • Burtonboy

    MaxwellHowe I see that a lot with a lot of games ,not only the Leafs . Seems to me its almost a natural tendencie not to want to make mistakes

  • Great Dane

    Burtonboy MaxwellHowe  I also believe that it is very tempting with the type of players we have like Kessel, JVR , Lupul and Kadri. Very fast, very creative.
    If Lupul, Kadri, Clarkson line is starting to work. Nonis will have to figure out if wants to keep Bolland or Bozak, because we someone between Kessel and JVR that can play at their level.

  • Great Dane

    Loric76 Goalie discussion: Moving either Reimer or Bernier would take a top center like Duchene to even consider such a trade.
    Reimer and Bernier just push each other to be better and better – what is not to love about that

  • Mind Bomb

    Good morning Folks, Today, is a good day, to WIN ! 

    Down with whoever Columbus is, Anyone even heard of them ? P

  • Mind Bomb

    Great Dane Loric76  Morning Dane, Good luck in our match up this week ! Your gonna need it :)))
    No trading our goalies :)

  • Burtonboy

    Mind Bomb I like Columbus . BJ’s are great :)

  • Mind Bomb

    Burtonboy Mind Bomb Hhahahhahah
    Morning BB,