When teams go on losing streaks it's typical of fans and media to start honing in on specifics. It's easy to forget that this is a "team" game. It's easy to put your best players on the hot seat, or, as we saw yesterday from Toronto media, to start questioning the coach.
That's the way it goes. When the losses start piling up the fingers start pointing, and while I too am pointing at the Leafs first line wondering where the scoring is, I happen to think that for a hockey club that needs maximum energy and effort just to compete most nights, what hurts most right now is that we're missing a key guy who does both those things:
LEAFS RECORD WITH COLBY IN LINE-UP: 5-2-1
LEAFS RECORD WITH COLBY OUT: 0-3-2
I had a good heated battle with Leaf fans over at PPP a few weeks back about Armstrong, my high opinion of him opposed with expanded stats and the such. I said it then and I'll say it now: this guy is worth every penny of his $3M contract because he brings intangibles to the table every night that don't show up in the stats. His hustle and heart, his defensive energy, his physicality and his never-say-die attitude rubbed off on this hockey club. He is a soldier, through and through.
You can see a difference since he's been gone.
Then add Phaneuf to the IR, another guy who brings it every night, and to me it's no coincidence that the Leafs are hustling for about 40% of games these days.
Hurry back Colby.