Sunday Discussion: Can these two friends generate enough firepower?
The Leafs lost 3-1 to the Sabres last night. It was their fifth exhibition game in as many nights. Today, a breather. But with four games remaining until the big show begins, coach Ron Wilson says this much is clear: His top two lines will feature Tyler Bozak between Kris Versteeg and Phil Kessel, while Mikhail Grabovski will centre Clarke MacArthur and Nikolai Kulemin.
During the 90s, as the Leafs shed Ballard-era dysfunction the way a snake sheds its skin, fans were suddenly exposed to an unusual sight: The swirling red goal light behind the opposition net.
Three of those teams (92-93, 93-94 and 98-99) went on to the Conference Finals. And during the regular season, the top two scorers on all of those teams combined for at least 150 points.
Doug Gilmour (127 points) and Nikolai Borschevsky (74) put up 201 points in 92-93. Gilmour (111) and Dave Andreychuk (99) ratcheted up the total to 210 points the following season. And in 98-99, Mats Sundin (83) and Steve Thomas (73) led the attack with 156 points.
Granted, neither Kessel nor Bozak played full seasons last year. So the following comparison is flawed. Nevertheless, here’s the deal: They combined for 82 points. In fact, even if you add the 44 points Versteeg scored with the Hawks, the team's presumed top line is still under the 150 threshold with 126 points.
What does this mean? Maybe nothing. As Brian Burke told me recently: "We think we can manufacture offence by committee."
Is he right? Or is the committee still missing a critical member?
PHOTO: RENE JOHNSON/TORONTO STAR