Opening Night Observations
One prediction right off the bat: The top-two Leaf lines are going to have to change.
Quite simply, having three right-handed shots on the top line (Tyler Bozak, Phil Kessel and Kris Versteeg) and three left-handed shots on the second unit. (Nik Kulemin, Mikhail Grabovski and Clarke MacArthur) just doesn't make a whole lot of sense. It makes even less sense when Ron Wilson keeps those lines together on power plays.
So we'll see. Each line came up with an even strength goal in Thursday night's 3-2 win over Montreal, which is good. But the power play was horrific, which is bad. With the opportunity for a one-timer only on one side or the other, the Habs defended the Leaf power play with ease, although the biggest issue was the absence of any Leaf forward willing to chase down the puck in the offensive zone.
The easy switch on the forward lines would be to flip Versteeg and Kulemin. But that won't happen after a win.
Otherwise, the surprising development from opening night was the elevation of third-year defenceman Luke Schenn up to No. 4 on the depth chart. Schenn played 21 minutes and 36 seconds, more than he was allotted on a regular basis last year, and skated mostly beside veteran puck-mover Tomas Kaberle.
Mike Komisarek, meanwhile, played the least of all Leaf defencemen, just 12:08, and generally worked on the third pair with Carl Gunnarson. It's a sensible way to deploy Komisarek in the early going as he finds his feet after off-season shoulder surgery.
At the same time, Schenn deserves to play more than Komisarek right now, particularly when he goes with his first instinct. He looks bigger and seems more confident, and if Komisarek can get his game going, those two along with Dion Phaneuf (23:45 in the opener) could make the Leafs intimidating on the right side of their defence.
Of some concern, meanwhile, is the shaky play of Gunnarson, who didn't have a strong training camp. His weak puck play created Montreal's first goal, and right now he seems to lack that simple effiiciency that characterized his play last season.
Next up, Ottawa on Saturday night. Have to believe head coach Ron Wilson will go with J.S. Giguere in net again, then turn to Jonas Gustavsson for a start on the road next week in Pittsburgh or New York.