An 8-1 rout of the Carolina Hurricanes was exactly what the slumping Maple Leafs needed. William Nylander was at the top of that list, needed a goal to break a long drought after being victimized by crossbars and posts. Nylander finally scored one, writes Sportsnet’s Luke Fox, and it seemed to ease the tension for the young center who had only scored twice in the past 26 games. Fox adds that Nylander appeared ready to set the league ablaze in scoring, but is now only on pace for 12 goals. Leafs bench boss Mike Babcock, however, calls for pause:
“We think he has the skill to be a centre, to transport the puck, to make plays. The part that we haven’t seen is the ability to play without the puck in his own zone. I would bet you on every team, the majority of forwards were centres, probably eight of the 12. They come into the league and the best players on all the minor hockey league teams are often centres.
They come up and they end up on the wing and it takes a few years to figure out the league and learn how to play hard and how to play without the puck so you don’t spend the whole time just standing there watching the merry-go-round.”
Perhaps that much needed goal could get the young center back on track.
- ESPN’s crew of writers debated the chances that the Bruins have in making a strong push for a Stanley Cup run. Greg Wyshynski believes that the Nashville Predators serve as inspiration for a team that played on the fringe for awhile before playing stronger as of late. Wyshynski says the teams match up everywhere except in net, where he wonders if Tuukka Rask is capable of playing big like the Preds’ Pekka Rinne did last season for Nashville. Emily Kaplan agrees, believing that their 7-2 throttling of Columbus is an indication they’re truly a contender, but that depth is a concern. She also lauds Charlie McAuvoy as being as good as advertised. Chris Peters takes the dissent, saying that it will take a lot to get past Tampa, and even if they do, defeating a Metropolitan team would be a heavy task as well.