|Maple Leafs Youngsters Get Chance to Shine||Tweet|
|Written by Dobber|
|Friday, 26 January 2007 11:27|
By Darryl Dobbs - also posted by Dobber's affiliates. With the likes of Darcy Tucker, Mike Peca, Kyle Wellwood, Nik Antropov and Alexei Ponikarovsky out of the lineup with various ailments, some unlikely sources are picking up the points for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
When a team loses their top goal scorer (Tucker) and their No.2 assist man (Wellwood, at the time of his injury) and two other players that have been putting up two points for every three games they play (Antropov and Ponikarovsky), you would think that said team would struggle to score goals. You would think that they would fall into a defensive system where they desperately try to eke out 2-1 wins.
At least not for the last three games, anyway. Toronto has tallied 18 goals in that span and it has not been top scorer Mats Sundin who has been getting them. Sure, he has two goals and four points in that span, but 14 Leafs goals were scored without his help. The next two players on the Toronto scoring list – defensemen Bryan McCabe and Tomas Kaberle – have just three points each.
With all that extra ice time that has been freed up, some third- and fourth-line Leafs – and even some Marlies for that matter – have been stepping up.
Matt Stajan, who has averaged under 16 minutes of ice time per game this season, has five points in his last two games. His ice time in those two games totaled 40:01. Sophomore Alex Steen has tallied eight points in his last six games after taking 35 games this year to garner his first eight. His ice time is barely 15 minutes per game on average, but he has been getting first-line ice time thanks to the injuries.
Fourth-line forward John Pohl has five points in his last three games and 11 in his last 12. His ice time has climbed to 9:24 per game after playing over 16 minutes for each of his last three games. Boyd Devereaux, recently called up from the Marlies, has even gotten into the act with six points in five NHL games this season. He had 11 in his last 14 with the Marlies.
Tucker, who is out with a badly bruised and swollen foot, could be back as early as Tuesday. Wellwood, who has missed the last eight games with a groin injury, could also be back on Tuesday. When that happens, it will be Stajan and Devereaux who will stop producing at such a hot rate. Steen and Pohl will continue putting up these numbers and if given enough time, will push Antropov and Ponikarovsky down to the third or fourth line when they return.
With Calgary missing Jarome Iginla (knee) and Chuck Kobasew (head) for at least a week, look for Matt Lombardi and Kristian Huselius to have a real chance to shine. Lombardi already picked up two assists on Saturday. Meanwhile, Daymond Langkow’s stellar production this season will slow…
San Jose third-liner Ryan Clowe has five goals in the two games that he has been back from a groin injury. He has been doing it on the power play, as his ice time (and linemates) is still third-line caliber…
Scott Hartnell of Nashville has 18 points in his last 22 games. The 25-year-old is an unrestricted free agent this summer, and with the recent hip flexor injury to Martin Erat he has been getting time on the first line with David Legwand and Paul Kariya…Ottawa rearguard Wade Redden, who has had a miserable season battling groin and chest injuries, has six points in his last seven games. There are a lot of frustrated poolies out there who are looking to give this guy away – now would be the time to take him off their hands…