Why Are The Leafs Winning Now?

There's some really great reasons the Leafs have seemed to turn around their play of late.

  • Their penalty killing, while not fixed, is looking a lot more aggressive at the points and in the corners. Every member of the PK is blocking shots, regardless of the size of their paycheque. They're also getting the puck over the blueline when they get it. This may sound simple, but recall a few games in November and you will remember many pucks making it to the blueline, but never past it.
  • An team-wide investment in defense. Nikolai Kulemin is finally getting credit for what he has been doing all along. You know why he hasn't been sent down to the Marlies(like many have screamed for)? Koolaid forechecks hard and backchecks harder. He's better than any other Leaf at rubbing out an opposing player before they get to our blueline in the neutral zone
  • The Leafs have turned the forecheck up all the way to eleven. Keith Primeau is opening up space for his linemates after moving up to the third line. The fourth line is doing what they are built for; pounding defensemen into the glass and laying the groundwork for the other three lines. Colton Orr has a game winning goal, 'nuff said
  • Jason Blake knew that if he was going to turn his game around he needed to start from his own net forward. Blake has been playing great on the fourth line and all his defensive efforts has lead to more chances offensively. Scoring two even-strength goals off of brilliant passes from Grabbo surely has his confidence higher. Evidence of this is the five alarm wreck around Mathieu Garon when Blake was looking to complete the hat trick
  • Turnovers are down, but definitely not gone. I think that Stempniak's extra work on the penalty kill has sewn up some of his turnover issues. Also, taking him off the point on the powerplay has brought his turnover rate down as well.
  • Crisp hard passes out of the zone, you just can't beat them. Even Komisarek has got his poop in a scoop with his first passes. And this leads to......
  • Luke Schenn's ice time is down. I'm not sure on this, but if anyone can tell me, is Luke back playing on the proper side? Schenn is composed with the puck again and making hard chips along the boards that had him stymied so far this season. He's also laying opposing players out on the boards. His pinches are more calculated and his shots are getting through and not rushed. Apparently the Leafs coaches still want to see more offense out of him, but at least he's trying responsibly now.
  • Francois Beauchemin and Tomas Kaberle continue to quietly lead the team. Much has to be said about Ian White, too. At the beginning of the season he was the only good player. Now that the rest of the team has caught up, he's quiet. Which is great, because that means he's still a part of the solution and not causing new problems. Thanks for help leading us out of the worst funk in franchise history, Ian.
That's about how I see it. What did I miss?

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