There’s no question Auston Matthews historic 4-goal debut last night in Ottawa excited Leafs fans and exceeded any modest expectations for the 1st round pick. However, his performance provided cover for a lot of his Leafs teammates in the 5-4 OT loss.
While I agreed mostly with Mike Babcock’s post-game assessment of who played well last night, Martin Marincin and Jake Gardiner were softer than soft, JVR and Tyler Bozak were minus 2 and mostly invisible, and it looks like the book on Frederik Andersen is glove side high. Despite outshooting Ottawa and doing well on possession, this team was an utter disaster in its own end…but damn it was fun to watch wasn’t it? Going forward, they might be better served with Kadri centring JVR and Mitch Marner, who had a breakaway, crossbar and six shots in his impressive debut. Kadri can provide more puck support along the boards than Bozak. Also, Polak needs to draw in to put some fear into opposing forwards — no Senator was afraid of losing a one-on-one battle down low last night. Tighten up the goaltending and play in their own end, and the Leafs will be REALLY fun to watch this year…
This promises to be a very tight series. Both teams have good pitching, the Blue Jays with an edge among starters, and Cleveland with more depth in the bullpen. If it turns into a slugfest, Toronto likely prevails. I expect to see a few Melvin Upton pinch-hit appearances if Terry Francona continues to use Trevor Miller in the middle inning shutdown role that was so effective against Boston. With a few days off for both sides, expect to see a low-scoring start to the series. Whoever can rev up their bats again the quickest will certainly have an advantage. Cleveland took the season series 4-3, an indication of how evenly matched these teams are. My prediction: if it’s not Blue Jays in 6, it’ll be Cleveland in 7.
ARGO…oh forget it
If there’s one league that can’t afford competitive imbalance, it’s the CFL. The East division is dreadful this year, while four teams in the West are above .500. The Argos, as dreadful as their 5-10 record indicates, somehow still have a chance to finish top two and make the playoffs. I believe Ottawa and Hamilton are better teams than their records indicate, and will be those two playoff teams in the East. But what a disaster this season is becoming for the Argos. The move to BMo hasn’t improved attendance (mainly because the team is floundering) and they may not even be able to use the playoffs to generate any pre-Grey Cup buzz (the game is at BMo). I can’t see how there aren’t wholesale organizational changes after this season is done, save for a miraculous turn of fortune.