Friday, October 29, 2010

Red Wings play 2 periods, lose 4-2

The Detroit Red Wings decided not to play during the first period of Thursday night's game against the Phoenix Coyotes. The Coyotes led 3-0 at the end of 20 minutes. Detroit managed to outscore Phoenix 2-1 for the remainder of the game - Phoenix's last goal was an open netter.

These are 60-minute games. Gary Bettman has not changed that yet. Bettman was at Thursday's game. I am sure he would have mentioned it during his chat with Mickey Redmond.

For the forty minutes the Red Wings did play, they peppered Ilya Bryzgalov. He made 43 saves - 34 of which were made in the second and third periods.

On the other end, Chris Osgood faced 15 shots in the first period, but made only 12 saves. Osgood looked pathetic on a couple of the goals. He was either down early or out of position. However, without Jimmy Howard - who was supposed to start this game but suffered back spasms the day of - on the bench, coach Mike Babcock decided not to pull Osgood after the atrocious first period. It paid off. He came around in the second and third periods, making 21 saves and keeping the Wings within striking distance.

The Red Wings made a push in the last minutes of the game. Osgood was pulled with about a minute left. It seemed as though the Wings had a decent chance to put some final pressure on Bryzgalov until Niklas Kronwall coughed the puck up at his own blue line. Phoenix was able to slide one into the open net and hold on to the lead, 4-2.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Phoenix, again

Thursday's meeting between the Detroit Red Wings and Phoenix Coyotes is the second in four this season. The Wings were victorious in the first round, skimping past the "Desert Dogs" 2-1. The OT goal by Niklas Kronwall capped an otherwise sketchy performance from both sides.

Here's the deal: Phoenix does not have an offense. If Detroit scores three or more goals then the Coyotes are ... roadkill? Yes, I said roadkill.

The Coyotes scored just 19 goals in eight games. This is relatively bad, considering they have 24 goals against. Detroit scored 23 goals and 18 goals against in seven games. The Red Wings need to put pucks in the net on this team. They need to do it early. The Coyotes will want to keep this game close like the last meeting. A 1-0 game would be fine with them.

The point is, Phoenix can't score. Detroit does not want to be the team that helps turn their offense around for the better. But if so, then the Wings better bring their own offense Thursday night.

The almighty prediction: Detroit 5, Phoenix 2.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Red Wings Schedule

This is definitely not a "normal" schedule. This is the third time this month the Detroit Red Wings go four days without playing a game. Whether or not players enjoy this is irrelevant. I think it's obvious there is a huge downside to sitting around so much in the beginning of the season. Slow starts to games become much more prevalent - especially for the Wings this month.

Regardless, the next game is against the Phoenix Coyotes Thursday. The Coyotes are coming off a 3-2 overtime loss in Montreal. They are in Ottawa Tuesday before making Detroit the last stop on a mini eastern-Canada-Michigan road trip. Hopefully they will be tired by the time they roll into Joe Louis Arena. The Red Wings will be rested, no doubt.

The Wings have to start establishing presence early in the first period. They can't let the Coyotes take the crowd out of it. If Detroit gets up by a couple goals early, this game is in the books. Phoenix probably won't have the energy to come back at the end of a road trip.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Joe's Corner: Shooting Lanes

Editor's Note: Joe Lupinacci is the author of Joe's Corner. This is his first contribution to DearRedWings.com.

You don’t need to be a big guy to play like one.

I’ve always been a believer that solid positioning and a clear head can make up for lack of size on the ice. Take Dino Ciccarelli for example, 5’ 10” and 180lbs, former right winger for the North Stars, briefly for the Wings, and 2010 inductee to the NHL Hall of Fame. Fans describe Ciccarelli as a scrapper: the guy that never quits poking the goalie until the puck’s in the back of the net or a fist meets his face, and sometimes not even the latter. Ciccarelli was efficient with the space he occupied, because it wasn’t much. It’s the “right place, right time” mentality that made him such a great player, and likely the reason he’s now celebrated at 30 Yonge Street in Toronto.

Today, the NHL has changed immensely since the days of Dino (retired in 1999); and that was not too long ago. Players shoot harder, skate faster, move quicker, and hit with intent to cause great bodily injury. As a result, proper positioning is an essential attribute for a hockey player.

There are two basic types of positioning: on-the-puck and off-the-puck. As you can imagine, on-the-puck positioning comes into play when you actually possess the puck. It’s the breakaways, the dekes or dangles, and moving to make a good pass or get a clear shot.

If it is not clear to you at this point what off-the-puck positioning is, it’s what everyone else is doing when you are fiddling around with the puck. So, instead of watching Pavel Datsyuk take the jock strap off of 6’3 professional defensemen on a one-on-one, try watching what Pavel does to actually get in that situation. Watch where he positions himself when he’s on defense; because remember, every time the other team has the puck you are on defense.

It’s not “right place, right time”. If a player uses these words to credit his goal, he plays slop-hockey and just happened to benefit from his opponents error. Good players move off the puck instinctively. On offense, they rotate, they slide, and they set up one-timers or back-door goals. On defense, they force passes, block shots, cut off shooting lanes and screen goalies.

In last Thursday's game against the Calgary Flames, Todd Bertuzzi got caught playing perfect off-the-puck positioning. I say caught, because let’s face it Bertuzzi, you are more of a plow-through-people, bull in a china shop, kind of player.

Bertuzzi exemplified flawless off-the-puck positioning at 16:43 in the third period when he pressured the Calgary point man with textbook forechecking (like a good winger always does), simultaneously closing the shooting lane and forcing a shot.

Pause for a warning to the youngsters. Three things could have happened at this point: (1) Bertuzzi could have gotten his paints pulled down by over committing to the puck-possessing point man, thereby leaving his zone vulnerable to a clear blazing shot straight to the net. (2) Bertuzzi could have forced a pass or an inaccurate shot, either way accomplishing his goal in a man-to-man situation. Or, (3) The point man could try to take the clear shot he thought he had, only to have it hit the Mission shin guards of Bertuzzi’s perfectly positioned legs.

The result: Bertuzzi on a breakaway, a goal, and a subsequent headline in the Detroit Free Press.

This begs the question: What is the perfect off-the-puck positioning for forechecking a point man?

First, focus on the puck, not the player. This seems obvious in text, but it is counter-intuitive when you are actually on the ice. This is especially true for the young guys who just want lay a hit into everyone they see with a different color jersey. The puck comes from the blade of the stick, not from your opposing team’s logo. The misalignment with the point man’s actual body gives him the false impression that he has a clear shot. Remember a shooter’s eyes are six feet up and three feet over from the blade of his stick.

Second, put your legs together and square them off to the puck. If you are accurate and have your legs apart, the puck is going to go straight through. Also, since you will be coming in at an angle, having your legs apart opens up a very vulnerable portion of your legs: your inner calf muscle, or soleus.

Third, keep your eye on the puck. I’m serious. The last thing you want is to have Bertuzzi’s possible outcome number (1) happen. This means staying in position and not over-committing. Don’t compromise your ultimate purpose on the ice at that moment: to keep the other team from scoring. The older you get the faster the game gets, so don’t let it pass you by.

Fourth, if the puck hits your hands or wrists, it’s going to hurt. So, keep you palms towards the goalie and arms out running 45 degrees from your shoulders. THIS IS NOT BASKETBALL, so don’t leave your palms open to the shooter. I’m laboring this point for a reason. If a shot hits your palms you are going to have some broken bones.

Fifth, lead with the blade of your stick. The point man’s worst nightmare is a simple poke check because after him it’s nothing but open ice straight to tomorrow’s headlines. Aim the blade of your stick at the puck; we call this “stick on stick”. This will help deflect the shot into your body or, at the very least, somewhere other than the net.

Sixth, watch out for your throat. Bury your chin into your chest and raise your shoulders for added protection. A puck to the collar bone or chin is going to hurt, but a clear shot to your throat can knock out your airway. FYI: neck guards are to protect players from skate and stick blades, not from six ounce rubber disks flying at high speeds.

Lastly, something to keep in mind while you are practicing the point man forecheck: the difference between great and terrible off-the-puck positioning is a delicate balance. Simply shifting your momentum too much to one side can give your opponent a severe advantage. Don’t over-commit, but don’t play shy.

Like Dino and Todd, don’t play too much like a meat head (by just plowing through people and constantly over-committing) or a professor (by over thinking every situation and playing too shy). Find the perfect balance and don’t be afraid to get a little bruised. The sting from a slap shot to an unprotected area hurts for a couple of days. The embarrassment from letting a point man get a clear shot to the net will last the season. You, the player, might not think that’s true, but coaches in particular pick up on off-the-puck positioning. It creates situations, leads to goals, and makes for good hockey. So, when your suddenly on the line with the two guys who used to play roller hockey, who never pass you puck, and spend their time on the bench talking about the girls in the stand, you’ll know why.

Joe Lupinacci | Joe's Corner | DearRedWings.com

Friday, October 22, 2010

Todd Bertuzzi: 8 points in 6 games

Detroit Red Wings veteran right winger Todd Bertuzzi is off to a great start this season with eight points in his first six games. Bertuzzi earned two points - a goal and an assists - against Calgary Thursday.

Bert talked to reporters last night after the game:


He is now leading the Wings with his eight points.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Howard shines, Detroit tops Flames 4-2

Jimmy Howard made 34 saves to help Detroit get passed the Calgary Flames 4-2 at Joe Louis Arena Thursday. Howard made at least a handful of big-time saves. The rest of the Wings gave Calgary goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff a tough night - four goals on 30 shots.

Johan Franzen returned to the lineup tonight after sitting out due to a head injury suffered in the Dallas game last week. Franzen wasted no time in making a huge impact. He scored the game-winning goal - a crafty shot banked off of Kiprusoff's head.

Todd Bertuzzi ripped one top shelf to give the Wings a late two-goal cushion in the third period.

Henrik Zetterberg finally got his first goal of the season thanks to a beautiful pass from line mate Pavel Datsyuk. Nicklas Lidstrom opened the scoring in the second period.

The offense was rolling and Howard was on his game. The defense was shaky per usual, but Howard kept the D from being completely exposed.

Ruslan Salei had another questionable performance. Salei notched four penalty minutes. One of Calgary's goals was due to a defensive breakdown in Detroit's zone. Salei followed a man behind the net, leaving the front wide open. This is a giant no-no, especially since the Detroit center was already caught behind the net with Salei's defense partner. I hate to see goals like this. No need for two guys to follow someone behind the net - usually leads to a goal in the NHL.

Mickey-ism of the night (in reference to Patrick Eaves falling backwards over Kiprusoff): "He went back over teakettle, boy." I think he wanted to say "ass over teakettle." I had to refer to an elder viewer to explain this phrase to me. Apparently it's an ancient one meaning any time someone falls over backwards, like a backward flip/roll.

Here are a couple Wings game necessities courtesy of Joe's Corner:


Be sure to check back for more from Joe's Corner.

Starbucks before games?

I was sitting in Starbucks in Northville when Nicklas Lidstrom and Tomas Holmstrom walked in at around 4:30 Thursday. I am not certain what they ordered, but they both walked out with something.

Is this standard? Starbucks before games?

Anyway, as much as the little kid in me wanted to run up and wish the guys good luck against the Calgary Flames, I let them keep a low profile and business appeal. I kept the iPhone camera on the table too. I respect these guys too much.

I hope they both ordered red eyes - my drink of choice. It would help support my theory that caffeine is good before hockey games.

Shoot, I've been back in Metro Detroit for less than two weeks and already I had a Wings sighting. This was much cooler than any of my celebrity sightings in LA.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

NHL Central Division breakdown part 1

The NHL's Central Division: Where the Detroit Red Wings reigned superior until 2010. The Chicago Blackhawks spoiled the nine-year string of division titles and went on to hoist the 2010 Stanley Cup. Nine years, but just eight Red Wings titles due to the 2004-2005 lockout. Darn.

The Blackhawks clinched the division with 52 wins and 112 points last season. Detroit, remarkably, finished second in the division after having its worst post-lockout season - earning only 44 wins and 102 points. Not bad considering this team was out of playoff position in February. Just three years earlier, 102 points would have been more than enough to sit at the top of the Central. Hello competition, we've been waiting for you.

2010-2011 Central Division outlook

Chicago Blackhawks

After earning the franchise's first title since 1961, the Blackhawks disbanded quickly. Numerous key players left for free-agency, more money or even a second chance to play in the minors - Dustin Byfuglien, Atlanta Thrashers. One can't put a price on obscurity.

The high chance for back-to-back titles dwindled suddenly and harshly. To make things more interesting, the Hawks dropped their Cup-winning goalie Antti Niemi for an older, wiser, no-Cups-to-his-name Marty Turco. It was a questionable move.

This all sounds really bad but the truth is this team still has some of the best young talent in the league. The Hawks might struggle to be as dominant this season, but they will be around a strong team for a long time. I would never count them out of the NHL's top contenders.

Nashville Predators

I once read the Predators referred to as the NHL's Minnesota Twins: Consistent, hard-nosed, competitive and tragically mediocre. The Twins are probably better at all four of those. However, Nashville is making a case. Four out of the last five years have included the Preds in the playoffs, but not past the first round. Starting to sound more like the Twinkies every minute.

Head Coach Barry Trotz has limited talent on his roster. However, the longer this franchise exists the more boring this "no talent" excuse gets. Trotz developed his stubborn conservative system from the get-go. It helped this expansion franchise avoid years of doormat status. However, things have to change sometime. No team determined to execute this system will ever be a serious Cup contender in this league. What kind of talent wants to be a part of a mediocre agenda? Rhetorical.

More to come.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Back to Detroit

The past few months have been hectic for me. As many readers may know, I moved to LA a little more than a year ago. Well, I am back in Detroit now, probably for a long time, if not permanently. It's good to be home.

This should up DRW productivity once I get settled in and back to the grind. No, I did not come back to be on Detroit 187.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Defensive Woes, Somehow 3-1-1

The Detroit Red Wings are 3-1-1. The first five games showcased Detroit's strengths and weaknesses equally. On one side they have an explosive, deep and talented offense which has the ability to over-power teams with relentless production from several two-way forwards. On the other side is a struggling defense which definitely has not figured out their identity. To make matters worse on D, the Wings are missing veteran Brian Rafalski for a few weeks and up-and-coming big man Jonathan Ericsson. Say what you want about Ericsson, but the team has put a lot of valuable time and effort into making him part of the system. Instead, he's out and someone less-experience is in. The identity crisis has ensued.

Focusing on the defense after five games:

I focused on issues I saw with Niklas Kronwall and Ruslan Salei in my last post. Things have not changed much in the past couple of games. These two still are not showing the consistency needed. Sure, Kronwall has strength on the power play and is jumping into offensive situations more, but until he starts taking responsibility through the neutral zone and back, I am afraid the jury is out on him yet. But instead of breaking the defense down by player, let's take a more macro look at the situation.

The Red Wings are quite average in their own zone right now. They have 12 goals against and are +2 in overall goal differential. If not for Jimmy Howard's brilliance for making the big saves, the Wings could easily be below .500.

Last season the Wings started to develop two terrifying habits: Turnovers in the neutral and defensive zones, and poor breakouts which resulted in turnovers - odd-man rushes or opponents behind the defense. Apparently this still exists. Thursday's defensive meltdown in Dallas proved the bad habits are intensifying. Three of the Stars' goals were due to turnovers. Moreover, Phoenix's goal Saturday was the result of failure to exit the zone after a Howard save. I blame the all five guys on the ice for goals of this nature. Everyone needs to start swarming the rebounds and keeping the puck to the perimeter.

Power plays are for scoring goals:

Poor power play production is definitely something this team isn't used to. In 2008-2009 the Wings were atop the league with a 25.5% conversion rate on the PP. They dropped last season to ninth overall with a 19.2% conversion rate. So far this season, the trend continues: The Wings currently sit at fifteenth with a 16.7% conversation rate after five games. They have four goals in 24 opportunities. Kronwall's OT winner on Saturday was on the PP, but it sure took a while and numerous opportunities.

The Wings PP is currently set up in the umbrella or in a box with a man in front. They attempt to get shots after moving the puck around the perimeter. Often, the unit tries for a couple patented plays: Fake shot off the end boards or a fake shot into a pass to the winger who deflects it in the slot. However, most Detroit PPs showcase the unit's indecision. I would like to see a more direct, clear approach. Simplify it. Get it done.

Unfortunately, poor decisions in the neutral zone have hindered many PP opportunities up to this point. The team finally started to show some life against Phoenix. Getting the puck in the zone is mission one.

It is too early to tell just how deep this offense is. So far, I have only seen hints of dominance. But, a couple players are not living up to expectations.

I would like to the defense and offense mesh better in the defensive and neutral zones. They don't seem to be on the same page at times. It's like a wide receiver running the wrong route sometimes.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Kronwall, Salei Not Helping


Niklas Kronwall is supposed to represent a strong future for the Detroit Red Wings defense. He is supposed to be a lot better by now. He is supposed to be learning from his teacher. He is not supposed to get worse every game. But alas, he pinches often, he is consistently out of position in both zones and gets burned trying to make a big hit. I don't even trust this guy on the man advantage.

With Brian Rafalski out with a knee injury for a few weeks, the doubts I had about Detroit's blue line are coming to fruition. No thanks to Kronwall.

While I wonder what the team sees in "Nick Jr.," a newer face is making matters worse - Ruslan Salei. When is he going to start earning his contract value? I am less-than-impressed with Salei's lazy, idiotic play through the neutral zone. I've seen him get burned a few times too many.

If the Wings were without Nicklas Lidstrom, Brad Stewart and Jimmy Howard, I really don't know if anyone would be responsible for keeping the pucks out of the net. Thank Science Detroit has enough Selke-worthy forwards. I do not feel confident in this D when Stewart and Lidstrom are not on the ice. Without Rafalski, the defense is about to be exposed - and it pretty much already happened against Colorado. Both Kronwall and Salei were responsible for a goal each Tuesday night. The only time I saw this pair play well was in overtime. Thanks.

The shootout loss was the Detroit defense's fault. A 3-1 lead blown. Howard did everything he could to keep them in it, and made several saves in the shootout. No help from his defensemen.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Opening Weekend: Success

Mike Modano scored on his first shot as a Detroit Red Wing. Valtteri Filppula had a two-goal game. Pavel Datsyuk earned a Gordie Howe hat trick. The Red Wings ruined Chicago's banner-raising party. The Wings finished 2-0 for the weekend.

Pretty good first two games.

Friday night at Joe Louis Arena showcased Detroit's dominating depth on offense. With three lines rolling, Detroit made Anaheim look like little ducklings. And if the scoring wasn't enough, when Anaheim tried to rough them up, the Wings struck back, not afraid to drop the gloves. Datsyuk was no exception.

Friday night was a team effort. The Wings shined on offense, defense and with Jimmy Howard in net. Howard put in a solid effort for the shutout. He made the big saves when needed. He put on a clinic of conservative, position goaltending. He was never rattled, never beaten.

Saturday they crashed a party. The Chicago Blackhawks were supposed to be running high on emotions after their first banner raising ceremony in 49 years. Yet, it wasn't the same championship Blackhawks team. Literally, a huge chunk of the roster left in the offseason.

Detroit did not look great. They were clearly struggling from the back-to-back games. Luckily, Chicago was less-than-impressive. Consequently, the game was a little slow after a decent first period. Both teams made mistakes. Both teams notched cheap goals. It could have gone either way, but give credit to Detroit for silencing the United Center with the first goal of the game. Chicago was never in control of this one.

I think we're in for a fun season.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Goalie Pads - Something I Agree With

Over the past few years I have disagreed with a lot of rule changes the NHL has made: The trapezoid, the delay of game minor penalty for lifting the puck out of your zone (incidental), and even the no-change icing - which I would have liked to see a compromise of some sorts. Anyway, one thing I do like is the modifications to the ever-growing goalie pads. It just makes sense. Those things were getting pretty ridiculous.

The goalies may be bitching a little about it, but no one else. It's not about the goals as much as a return to normalcy. If we kept growing a little each year, those things would eventually cover the net.

I noticed this a few times during the Chicago/Colorado game Thursday. Marty Turco looked a bit slimmer, and I know it's not him.

Hockey is back. Enjoy.

Friday, October 1, 2010

After Watching Highlights

I watched the highlights from the Toronto game. Detroit was just toying with them.

Toronto seems to have one line - the Kris Versteeg line. They definitely did not not have a strong effort in net from Jussi Rynnas.

Detroit looked fine. Worlds ahead of the Leafs. Of course, all the big guns were firing - and they were firing at a pee-wee caliber goalie, at least tonight.

It's good to see Jiri Hudler still has hands. He will be a huge help in the offensive zone if he continues to generate offense like I saw in some highlights from this game.

Thomas McCollum looked just OK. He had some stunning saves, but a couple of those goals were a little weak. Definitely not his fault though. Yet, I always expect more from goalies when they show they can make the big save. I want them to do it every time.

Here is the game in six minutes from the Leafs' faithful perspective.

Maple Leafs: They Live a Nightmare

The Detroit Red Wings beat up on the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-3 tonight at Joe Louis Arena.

Forget about Detroit for a minute and consider the Leafs. What a joke. Just read the following from the Toronto Star, it pretty much sums it up:

Paul HunterSports Reporter - The Toronto Star, www.thestar.com

DETROIT—In exhibition play, sometimes it’s good not to be noticed, other times it likely solidifies a trip to the minors.

Such was the case for Jeff Finger and Nazem Kadri here Friday as a group of Wings, close to the one that will open the season, eviscerated a roster of Leafs that also isn’t that far off the lineup that will take to the ice in the season opener Thursday against Montreal.

The 7-3 final was ugly and embarrassing and will tighten collars among team management and fans alike with just one more friendly remaining to get it right. But while the Leafs clearly aren’t in the same league as the impressive Wings, they might not have been torched this badly if minor-league netminder Jussi Rynnas hadn’t been channeling Finnish countryman Vesa Toskala.

Hopefully the prospect isn’t rattled for life, but he might need to lather himself in aloe vera to sooth the scorch marks.

Kadri, in what has been characterized as his last shot to impress, was mostly invisible at Joe Louis Arena. Though his linemates, Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin, didn’t dazzle either until the game was well out of hand. In the third, Kulemin delivered a nice pass that Grabovski converted into a pretty goal.

Clarke MacArthur, out with a groin strain, will eventually take that spot on the left side of the No. 2 line, possibly as early as Saturday night when coach Ron Wilson said he will dress a lineup as close to Thursday’s as injuries will allow. Kadri was just a space holder there in this loss and didn’t wow anybody. Barring injuries, he’ll be starting the season on the farm with the Marlies.

John Mitchell, another centre fighting for a job on the big club, didn’t stand out either. He’ll likely start the season in the press box as an extra forward, with the energetic Tim Brent, a scratch Friday, securing the third-line pivot spot between Colby Armstrong and Fred Sjostrom.

On defence, Finger made his exhibition debut after hurting his knee earlier at training camp. He played much as he did last season. An unspectacular fifth or sixth blueliner, Finger impresses with his willingness to block shots but he blended in with the rest of a Toronto blue-line corps, which was mostly overwhelmed by Detroit’s talent.

If Finger wasn’t overpaid at $3.5 million (U.S.) a season — and that’s not his fault — the 30-year-old wouldn’t be the lightning rod that he has become for fan criticism.

Once the lineup is set and the focus turns to who is on the team rather than who isn’t, newcomer Kris Versteeg will start getting some much deserved attention. On a dismal night for the Leafs, he set up two highlight reel goals with lovely cross-ice passes.

A first power-play unit with Kris Versteeg, Tyler Bozak and Phil Kessel up front and Tomas Kaberle along with Dion Phaneuf on the backend has the potential to be devastatingly good.

Versteeg has the hands and vision to create some magic with his linemates. On Toronto’s first goal, which came during a man advantage, he circled out from behind the net into the right faceoff circle, drew the Detroit penalty killers towards him and then fired a perfect pass to Kessel who was open on the other side.

While the power play definitely has the potential to be better, particularly if Phaneuf decides he doesn’t have to blast the puck every time it hits his stick, Toronto’s penalty killing — worst in the league last season — looks like it will continue to struggle, especially against a talent-laden squad like Detroit’s. The ability of veteran pickup Mike Modano to play the point is a nice addition for the Wings.

Kessel showed the flipside of his offensive skills, when he got caught out of position while out killing a penalty. That helped lead to Detroit’s third goal scored by a wide open Jakub Kindl in the high slot. The way the Leafs went up in flames, his surname should have been kindling.

Yikes. So at least they have Versteeg? Long year ahead. Keep in mind this isn't as much of a "make the team or stay down there" type deal for these Leafs guys as it is in Detroit. These young players will end up in a Leafs sweater a lot more as the season goes. The team isn't spoiled with great depth like Detroit is. That's really scary for Leafs nation.