So who should come out? We have two easy choices, take your pick. Blake or Tlusty. No more nice guy from me for these two. Blake is terrible in so many aspects of his game. He does not play Toronto Maple Leafs hockey, he plays NY Islanders hockey or Tampa Bay Lightning hockey, but that's not Leaf hockey.
After floating the puck uselessly at the net over 20 times in 5 games, Wilson limited Blake's ice time Tuesday to just 14:15. Blake finished the night minus 1 with no shots. No shots!? When was the last game Jason Blake registered no shots on goal? Was that his way of sulking? We need quality shots, not no shots. We need players who can take the puck to the net, and players to be going to the net before the shot has been taken.
As for Tlusty, it's Tlittle Tlate. Or not soon enough. After 6 games, it's no goals, no assists, for no points, and a minus 3. I'm not waiting for Tlusty anymore, I don't think he has it. Like Stajan, he plays too soft and doesn't seem to want to stand out one way or another. Worse, he doesn't have Stajan's maturity, or any flexability to his game, and there seems to be zero progression. Time to let someone else - like White - have a turn or two.
There is one other option, and though I don't think I like it, I do love this qoute from Ian White:
"I can't wait to play, forward, defence, whatever. If Vesa (Toskala) or Cujo (Curtis Joseph) get hurt, I'll play between the pipes too. I just want to play."
Beautiful. Reminds me of Todd Gill. Maybe next time Wilson wants to experiment in the shoot-out, instead of Cujo, he can put in Ian White. That sounds fun. Otherwise, he should just leave Toskala alone. Tuesday's game was Vesa's to win or lose, and despite his poor perfomances in shoot-outs past, we shouldn't forget the shut-out performance that got us that far. Toskala didn't let the team down Friday in New York, the team let him down. Specifically, Blake let him down with his weak attempt on the last shot.
Ian White has the right spirit, and since Blake and Tlusty aren't contributing to wins, that spirit should be recognized with playing time. After appearing in 9 pre-season games, more then any other Leaf, White deserves a turn in the regular season as well, if only to showcase his skills for a possible trade. Let White have a chance beside Stajan and Steen again and let's see if the Leafs can lose 5 more in a row. In a year where spirit is everything, having the White attitude should count for something.
**Update - As if to add to my point, Nik Antropov had this to say in this morning's Toronto Star:
"It doesn't matter who you are, you have to earn your ice time," he said. "If you're not playing 100 per cent and there's a guy waiting to play and giving it his all, why not send a message?"
Eat it, Blake.