Sunday, November 11, 2007

Kubina's Injury More Costly Than Expected

Greetings, long time no see folks, but I'm back, kind of and I'm not wasting time.

Kubina's injury is going to cost the Leafs a lot more than anybody is going to expect. To begin with, our 5 million dollar a year number 2 is down. That's the obvious part. He's not my favorite player, and I'd actually like to see him traded but that's not because he's Aki Berg-like, it's because we already have a guy exactly like him in McCabe which I will get to shortly. Kubina is an offensive defenseman, there is no hiding that, however, this season Kubina has proven he's a little more reliable defensively than most once thought. With the Buffalo disaster aside, which by the McCabe took the brunt if not all of the blame for, wrongfully I might add, Kubina has been a pretty steady guy back there with Kaberle at his side. Kubina leads all Toronto defensemen, physically speaking, with 28 hits. He also leads the team in blocked shots with 39. Kubina's giveaway to takeaway ratio is also 11:9. I expect the PK to take a hit. And I didn't think it was possible. I hate to be repetitious, but, Peca would have been really nice to have right about now, that's for sure.

Now, back to McCabe. With Kubina out of the lineup, we all know what that means. McCabe is going to take all of Kubina's ice time and be reunite with Kaberle in almost every scenario. I know Leaf fans, but hold your collective groans because this also means our good friend Anton Stralman will make his return to the lineup. I expect McCabe to do better than his worst critic expects but significantly worse than his greatest fan. As always, I expect him to land right in the middle which is quite typical on a team that has been the model of mediocrity for the last 40 years. McCabe is surprisingly only 4th on the team in giveaways with Kaberle leading the team in giveaways with 20 and having only 4 take aways to counter it with. My theory on this is that Kaberle has been playing with Kubina, a right handed shot, and has been forced to throw pucks closer to the middle on the break out. It's a pretty weak theory, but we'll see how things go with McCabe. McCabe also has 22 blocked shots, only 17 fewer than Kubina in 7 fewer games.

Personally, if I was the coach of this team, I think I would try and pair Stralman with Kaberle, McCabe with White, while alternating McCabe and Stralman, and Gill with Wozniewski. Stralman may be a rookie, but I've got a feeling about him. He has 3 giveaways in 7 games, not bad for a rookie, but at the same time, has 4 take aways which I believe is very good. I think a mistake Maurice might make with McCabe is overplaying him and going back to 3 years ago when McCabe was playing 30 minutes a game, rivaling Pronger and Lidstrom a top the league. McCabe can't be on the ice for that long. He takes things upon himself and it could see him add to his giveaway totals.

As you all know, I'm a believer of blowing this team up and letting guys like our friend Stralman play meaningful minutes at the NHL level, however, considering that isn't in the cards for certain people who are looking for extensions, or profits, the very least one can hope for is that guys like Stralman get to play a little bit more and guys like McCabe can play a little bit less because not only does it helps them both out tremendously but ultimately the team, now, and moving forward.

Also, one last thing, Colaiacovo has been reported to have skated for 7 straight days without pain. No timetable has been set yet, but hopefully, he can replace Wozniewski as quickly as possible and start dishing out some pain to some of our friends.

Until next time, don't give MLSE your money. It's not worth it.


Ron Guillet said...

Great blog, UG. Kubina has been an asset for us this season, although, like the team, has taken some costly nights off. His departure will be felt and the D will have to pull together...which is a scary thought. Hopefully it isn't too serious. Stralman - Kaberle pairing in the making? How sweet that would be. :D