The kids continue to play lights-out this season. In fact, they continue to keep the Leafs in the playoff hunt. Who would have believed the Leafs would be still in the hunt this late in the season? Here comes the golden question one more time: Who deserves the credit for the Leafs being positioned as they are? I have a theory on that. Here is my list, besides the obvious kids this season.
James van Riemsdyk
James has been rock solid, on track for another 20-goal season. In fact, he is closer to a 30-goal season. He is a contributor to the powerplay unit as well, adding five powerplay goals so far this season. He has been a stable influence on Marner plays. JVR has used his strength to his advantage. It is hard to take off his skates. He has been a force all season.
I know it seems odd that I have included this name. Matt has been very good this season; he has been a solid support to Morgan Rielly in the defensive zone coverage. He is a rock in the defensive zone, and his +5 backs that up. He is a vet and is a great leader to the young kids. Matt is a valuable asset to the Leafs. Without him, Morgan Reilly would that much more in trouble. You have to love this kid's heart. His courage is second to none. A great leader on the Leafs' blue line.
The real Anderson has shown up and been consistent of late. He continues to hold the Leafs game-in and game-out. He continues to block that next goal. He has rarely has taken the night off. It might have taken take him time, but Anderson has emerged as the top goaltender the Leafs believed him to be.
The Leafs made a management decision no one thought possible. If they continue to battle the odds and stay in the playoffs, do they actually buy at the playoff deadline or continue to hold the fort?
To add to the drama, everyone knows the Leafs could use a steady vet on the defense, a number four no-nonsense guy who can add to the toughness. Will they add at the deadline? Or do they fill the need in the offseason? Only time will tell.